Five Minutes on Mentorship with Dr. Samantha Nutt, Founder of War Child

Dr. Samantha Nutt is an award-winning humanitarian, bestselling author, and founder of War Child Canada and War Child USA. A respected authority on the civilian impact of war, international aid and foreign policy, she has worked with children and their families on the frontlines of many of the world’s major crises — from Iraq to Afghanistan, Somalia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone to Darfur, Sudan. She has not only been a mentor to many women within her organization and out, she has also benefitted greatly from mentorship in her own career. Dr.Nutt shares her advice for women looking for their own mentor, including what qualities to look for.  

 

 


 

 

How can mentorship impact your career?

Mentorship at different times in my life and my career have made the world of difference. We all need someone who believes in us — people who are willing to invest in you, have confidence in you, support you unconditionally, and make you believe in yourself. There are many examples that I could give you, that started in adolescence and went into medical school, and professionally in the international work that I do.

 

What advice would you give to a woman looking for a mentor?

I firmly believe that you have to seek those people out, and sometimes that can be hard. I’m not talking about randomly sending off emails to solicit mentors — it tends not to work that way! It’s about looking around yourself as you go through your career and identifying those people that you believe in, that have achieved the kinds of things that you would like to achieve, or that have skills and strengths that are very different from yours, in areas where you may want to grow and improve. Really try to make those introductions, start cultivating a relationship, and hope that becomes something deeper and longer term. Whether you are formally calling it a mentorship, and acknowledging it as such — or maybe it’s informal, just the occasional email, coffee conversation, or phone call that helps provide some perspective and support when you really need it.

 

What are some of the qualities of an effective mentor?

Fundamentally, a mentor is someone that you feel that you can trust, that you can can be painfully honest with, that you can reveal your deepest insecurities to, and that will give you honest, non-judgmental advice. For it to work effectively, you are putting yourself out there and being boldly honest about where you want to go in life and what you think your strengths and your weaknesses are, or what’s holding you back — your fears and insecurities. And so you want someone who is going to take that information and understand what to do with it and understand how to help you work through it.

 

In what ways does War Child support mentorship in the organization?

We are very much an organization that believes in the advancement and promotion of women all around the world, and so mentorship and helping and supporting other women is absolutely critical to everything we do. Many of the organizations we partner with are female-headed, local civil society organizations. So making sure we are nurturing their leadership, their potential that we are mentoring them in this work so that their own organizations can grow and thrive, even outside of their relationship with us as a partner, that’s part of our philosophy as an international organization. Our entire development philosophy has an element of mentorship, capacity building, and leadership development for people in all corners of the world affected by war, and the vast majority of those would be women and girls.

 

Paying it Forward: How Personal Experience has Guided Lisa Citton-Battel to Make a Positive Impact on Women’s Careers

Lisa Citton-Battel, executive director of marketing, sales and services at 3M Canada, returned from her first maternity leave struggling with the transition of going back to work. A supportive manager taught her the importance of having an advocatea lesson that’s guided her own leadership style over the last two decades.

 

By Hailey Eisen

 


 

It was early in her career, 19 years ago, after her first maternity leave, that Lisa Citton-Battel realized the power of having a strong advocate within your organization. As a marketing supervisor at the time, she was still establishing footing within 3M Canada, where she’s now executive director of marketing, sales and services. After six months at home with a baby, she, like many, struggled with self-confidence as she transitioned back to work.

“I had this manager who taught me a lot about my own potential,” Lisa recalls. “Sometimes it just takes one person to have 100 per cent faith in you, to recognize in you something you haven’t yet seen in yourself.”

Lisa went back to work and was promoted to marketing manager, a role she hadn’t envisioned herself being ready for at the time. “My manager said to me, ‘you have the ability, you can do this better than anyone else,’ and that was one of the most energizing and rewarding moments of my career,” she recalls.

 

“Sometimes it just takes one person to have 100 per cent faith in you, to recognize in you something you haven’t yet seen in yourself”

 

This invaluable lesson in leadership stayed with Lisa throughout her career, and has guided her own management philosophy. Coming off two-and-a-half-years as director of HR, she says her focus has always been on developing her team and the people around her. “While women tend to want to have all the qualifications ticked off before applying for a job, I’m always encouraging those I work with to apply for roles they may not have considered themselves for,” she says. “It’s important to support one another and remind people of their potential — to help counter self-doubt.”

And when you are given a promotion or offered a new challenge, Lisa advises not to be afraid to ask: why me? Why do you think I can do this?

Once you can see yourself from someone else’s perspective, it’s easier to believe in your own strengths and abilities. “As soon as my former manager told me why she thought I was right for the position, I jumped in with both feet. I didn’t want to let her down.”

Supporting women has always been on Lisa’s radar. These days she’s the host of a 3M “Lean-In Circle” within the company’s Canadian headquarters in London, Ontario. The purpose is to help women build courage and confidence in pursuing career aspirations and to discuss issues related to work life balance. As Lisa explains, it’s important for women to be able to lean on one another, to have somewhere to go for support and advice, and to encourage one another to embrace challenges and take risks.

“A key success factor for women in the workplace is to have a strong inner circle you know you can depend on at any time,” she says. “You want your circle to be made up of people who will give you good, honest advice and feedback you can trust.”

Within 3M, Lisa says she’s been greatly supported by the many managers she’s worked for, and the company’s flexible work program. “After my 29-week preemie was was born in 2000, I wasn’t able to go back to work right away for a variety of reasons,” she says. “I remember my VP at the time, who was male and didn’t have children, said to me, ‘3M will be here when you’re ready to come back, take the time you need.’”

In her most recent leadership roles, Lisa has always extended this same attitude to her team, knowing that when someone is happy and supported at work and at home, they always perform better. “I always try to make sure people are making the right choices for their current situation, if a child has a baseball game and you want to be there, work with your manager to ensure that’s possible — that additional stress doesn’t do anything for anyone.”

Lisa remains a strong advocate for flexibility, which is a priority at 3M, and she helps managers see the value in a work schedule that meets everyone’s needs. Whether an employee wants to spend a day working remotely, or shift their hours to balance other commitments, she’s open to making that work.

In her new sales and marketing role, which she began in early May, Lisa will continue advocating to create a work environment that’s supportive of women. When it comes down to it, Lisa says, you want employees to feel empowered in their development and supported in the work they’re doing.

 

 

Was That Coaching or Criticism?

 

We all rely on healthy constructive criticism in order to learn and grow as professionals. But what happens when coaching becomes straight up criticism? Christine Laperriere of the Women of Influence Advancement Centre is here to remind us all how heavy-handed coaching can backfire ― and how we can prevent our confidence from crumbling under the pressure.

 

by Christine Laperriere

 


 

As Lead Coach with the Women of Influence Advancement Centre, I often am tasked with coaching some of the brightest women in an organization. Recently, one of my clients called and asked if I could support her on a complex issue.

On our call she explained that her manager had decided in his effort to help her advance, he was going to give her “extra coaching.” To many of us, we’d be thrilled to have additional coaching to support our efforts to grow. But this manager had started to repeatedly point out this woman’s flaws in her leadership style ― she accused him of coaching “too much.”

One day he commented she came off as aggressive, the next day he noted that she interrupted someone. After a few months of working for him, she had completely lost her confidence. She said every meeting she went into she was thinking, “don’t be too aggressive” or “don’t be too dominating” or “be sure not to interrupt.” The storyline in her head was so busy telling her what she should not do, she had no focus on what she should be doing in the moment. Ultimately, as a result of coaching, she felt her performance declining and she was worried her career had taken a turn for the worse.

 

“As a result of coaching, she felt her performance declining and she was worried her career had taken a turn for the worse.”

 

This client’s story reminded me of one important component of fantastic coaching: the observation of “current state” behaviours with heavy emphasis and direction around what “future state” looks like. As I listened to a number of observations her manager had given her, I started to ask her what behaviours she should focus on doing more of.  Pretty soon she concluded that she wanted to be a better listener who focused on hearing another person’s full thought. She also noticed that she wanted to stay calm in discussions with other parts of the organization so she could better work with them. By the end of the conversation, she realized that if she could simply bring her attention to staying calm, curious, and listening more, she could perform so much better than focusing on what she might do wrong.

She called a few weeks later to say that she had found a few simple mantras that she’d often play in her head during tough meetings; “stay calm, curious, and listen” was her favourite. She said that making this simple shift in thinking not only helped her create a noticeable shift in her presence in meetings, it was actually making work much more fun and less stressful for her. I know that more fun ultimately means more success, so I simply encouraged her to stay on this path in the future.

 

 

Christine Laperriere is a seasoned expert on helping leaders and teams reduce internal conflict, improve employee engagement, and more effectively engage with customers and prospects. Working with the Women of Influence Advancement Centre and through her own consultancy, Leader in Motion, she has spent the past ten years teaching hundreds of leaders how to be more effective through her “Leadership through Conflict & Change” course, and helped many with specific challenges through private executive coaching. Her background includes an undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, certifications in psychotherapy and executive coaching, along with years in management consulting focused on implementation, change management and culture change initiatives.

Why I’m Finished with Leadership Buzzwords

 

Recognizing when our unconscious personal bias is influencing how we perceive our leaders is crucial. Leah Parkhill Reilly of the Women of Influence Advancement Centre urges us to base judgment on facts rather than feelings, and stay on high alert for meaningless buzzwords.

 

by Leah Parkhill Reilly

 


 

When I was in corporate HR, we would conduct talent roundtables to assess the readiness of the next levels of talent to move forward in the organization.

 

I would occasionally hear the comment that “so-and-so” lacked “gravitas” and was not ready for the promotion or a more challenging assignment. Often, the person lacking “gravitas” was female and the individual who was providing the opinion was a male executive with many years of experience.

 

This is not to say that the opinion was unfounded, but when I would question the individual on tangible evidence of what “gravitas” looked like, and examples of when the person being assessed was found lacking, often they had nothing to share. It was purely a gut opinion with nothing to validate it. Occasionally, it was a comment that the person had heard through the corporate grapevine. Opinion had become fact, and actual evidence was no longer relevant. This admittedly was an extreme example, and thankfully didn’t happen on a regular basis ― but it did happen, and still does.

 

“Opinion had become fact, and actual evidence was no longer relevant.”

 

We are all susceptible to unconscious bias, and part of the work that I did was to be very aware of this bias in these settings. In another example, I encountered a leader who wanted to hold back on an assignment for a female colleague because he thought she was considering having children. His implicit association was that if you’re female, then you’re going to be the primary caregiver and thus would not be interested in the next level of leadership. Thankfully, the discriminatory view of this dinosaur did not stand, and the female colleague did receive the assignment.

 

If you’re curious about the concept of unconscious bias and implicit association, one of the best sites I can recommend for further exploration is Project Implicit and the associated Implicit Association Tests. Project Implicit is an international collaboration between researchers run out of Harvard. The focus is on understanding our own social cognition: the thoughts and feelings outside of our conscious control.

 

You can complete any number of tests ― on age, gender, sexuality, and race, all in connection to career and the workplace ― to better understand the hidden biases that might affect your own decision-making process. If you’re really keen, I’d also suggest reading Blind Spot, which dives deeper into the causes of stereotyping and discrimination.

 

This is the time of year when performance assessments have been completed, but soon enough, mid-year talent roundtables will begin and it’s important to have your own radar on alert for the buzzwords that are flung around. As strong leaders, it behooves us to dig into the comments and understand what lies beneath the surface.

 

If someone “lacks presence,” tell us an example of when this failing was observed, give a comparative example of what it should look like in the firm, or provide options for how that person can develop their “leadership presence.” We can’t just readily accept opinion without actual supporting evidence. Leadership comes in many shapes and forms, and we need to be aware of our own biases of what leadership “looks like” ― instead focusing on the actual work, and impact within the organization and beyond.

 

Leah Parkhill Reilly is a Women of Influence Advancement Centre expert and the owner of Parkhill Reilly Consulting. As a results-oriented human resources consultant, she has a proven track record of driving change across large, complex organizations specifically with regard to learning, development and organizational effectiveness. Leah has worked in a variety of industries including telecommunications, insurance and financial services. Her career experiences run the gamut from project management for systems implementation to human capital strategic planning.

From COO of Scotiabank Puerto Rico to Toronto: Meet Enid Pico

By Shelley White

 

Enid Pico has never been afraid to make a big career move.

In 2010, she made the leap from a top job in her home country as President and Chief Operating Officer of Scotiabank Puerto Rico to a challenging new role 3,000 km away in Toronto.

“It was a big risk and looking back, I totally underestimated the degree of change,” says Enid, Senior Vice President and Head of International Operations and Shared Services at Scotiabank. “Coming to Toronto, it was a different culture, work environment, and climate.  I arrived in October and was so excited to be here. On the first day, I remember looking out my window and seeing snow. I didn’t have a coat or boots. The only things I had were high heels and dresses, but one learns fast!”

Despite the drastic change in climate, Enid thrived in her new environment.

“At that point, my attitude was, ‘I’m going to succeed no matter what’. So every time anything came up, I’d say, ‘I don’t care, I’m going forward,’” she says.

Now, Enid oversees critical operational and compliance risk management for all of Scotiabank’s international retail and commercial operations, which serve 13 million customers in over 30 countries across Latin America, the Caribbean and Central America.

“I come from a pretty remote area of Puerto Rico, the western part of the island, two hours away from the capital, so for me to even move to the capital to work in banking was a big thing,” she says. “I never dreamed that I would be in Toronto and looking after the international operations of Scotiabank.”

Enid’s journey to success started as a sports-crazy kid in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Growing up with an art teacher mother and a university professor father, education was a focus. “In my family, you could go without a lot of things, but not without an education,” she says.

Her grandmother was a major role model.

“Like in a lot of Caribbean or Latin American countries, she was the matriarch of the family so she taught me the meaning of family, how important it is to be connected,” says Enid. “Also that things don’t always go the way you want them to, but you have to be strong enough to accept it and make the best out of it.”

Outside of her family members, Enid says she looked up to powerful figures like U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher and basketball star Michael Jordan. “How [Jordan] alone could make a difference in a game, it was so incredible, and also to see that he took on all that responsibility. He was accountable for it, but also he had a way of making everybody around him be better.”

Though she had an early dream of sportscasting (“There was no ESPN at the time, so I had no career path,” she laughs), her love of numbers led her to pursue an accounting degree. Enid joined Scotiabank Puerto Rico when a job in the finance department opened up.

She recalls her early days as a working mom, when she had to learn how to combine caregiving with a demanding job as Vice President of Finance.

“I remember saying, ‘How am I going to balance everything?’, because a lot of the meetings were at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. and I had to go pick my son up [at school] at 5:15 p.m.,” says Enid. “I remember at that point [my superiors] saying, ‘Enid, don’t worry we will accommodate you.’ They remodelled my office and I had a table for my son. If there was a meeting, I would say, ‘Excuse me, I’ll be right back,’ I’d pick him up, then he would do his homework and I would continue with the meeting.”

“Even then, the Bank looked for ways to accommodate me. And if my boss at that time wouldn’t have done that, I probably would have had to leave the Bank to take care of [my son]. So I try to pay it forward.”

After 20-odd years of rising in the ranks at Scotiabank Puerto Rico, Enid made the move to Canada in 2010 when an opportunity came up to be in charge of shared services for the Bank’s operations in the Caribbean and Central America.

Enid says an important part of her decision to take the job was that she reached a point in her personal life where she was very comfortable making the move. Her son had graduated from high school and decided to pursue acting in New York City, which made moving to Toronto all the more appealing. “Everything lined up,” she says.

In the years since that big move, Enid’s impact on Scotiabank and the larger banking world has continued to grow. In addition to her current role as Senior Vice President, Enid sits on the Inclusion Council at Scotiabank and is the Executive Champion for HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement) Scotiabank, an employee resource group focusing on Latin cultures and Latin markets expertise.

Enid says that she’s honoured to take on a role that promotes diversity in her industry. In her view, championing inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

“We have to reflect our clients. In International Banking, we have over 13 million clients, so we have to make sure our people and our staff know those clients so they can serve them better. If you have a diverse client base, you need a diverse staff base,” she says.

“And it’s been proven time and time again, when you have diversity of thoughts, you are able to be more efficient, more productive and more effective.”
 
Enid says it’s been an “awesome ride” to see how Scotiabank’s international presence has grown over the years. When she first started at Scotiabank, they did not have a significant ownership position in any bank in Latin America. Now, over 50% of Scotiabank’s more than 89,000 employees are working in our international operations. She’s also proud of Scotiabank’s commitment to the advancement of women in the workforce.

“When I started working, I’d go to meetings and my bosses were always men, my peers were always men,” she says. “When I look at the Bank now, we’ve made tremendous strides. Here in Canada, my boss is a woman. When I go to a meeting today, 50 to 60% are women.”

When it comes to advice for young women looking to succeed in their careers, Enid’s message is characteristically bold.

“Take a risk and be fearless,” she says.

“You have an opinion, voice it. Take a risk, be relentless and be confident that you bring to the table a perspective that nobody in that room has.”