When women in the wireless infrastructure industry reflect upon the things that have helped them become successful, often they mention the value of mentorships in the growth of their career. Whether those mentor relationships grow organically through business connections or through mentorship programs like the one facilitated by the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum, having a trusted mentor provides guidance and advice that can help women navigate both challenges and opportunities.
The WWLF Mentoring Program matches industry veterans with mentees to provide an important foundation for mentees to learn more quickly about the industry, streamline their professional pursuits, provide education for specialized topics, and offer advice toward achieving work-life balance. Women who have been in the industry at least 10 years can apply to become a mentor to a mentee who has been in the industry less than five years. The pair then commit to participate in monthly mentorship meetings and quarterly one-on-one calls or in-person meetings designed to help the mentee learn and grow in her career.
Leticia Latino-van Splunteren, Chief Executive Officer of Neptuno USA Corp., jumped at the chance to formally join the mentor program after years of mentoring young women informally. Working through a program like WWLF’s provides a heightened impact, she said.
Latino-van Splunteren was matched with Vanessa Jean-Baptiste, Small Cell Project Coordinator for Crown Castle. Jean-Baptiste was looking for avenues to learn and grow in the industry and progress by connecting with individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests.
“A mentorship program focusing on developing women who are new to the wireless industry was ideal,” said Jean-Baptiste. “Participating in this program has given me new industry insight and potential career paths.”
The pair have held in-person meetings and phone meetings along with checking in via email and maintaining a mentorship timeline.
“I am a big advocate of face-to-face meetings because they help create bonds that are harder to create via email or phone,” said Latino-van Splunteren. “When we started the mentorship program we were paired in part because we were very close to each other, so we could start the relationship in person.”
Jean-Baptiste, who had been working on a temporary basis for Crown at the time, secured a permanent role with the company and moved to Orlando.
“That meant we would have to continue our mentorship program relying more on phone and email,” said Latino-van Splunteren, who is based in Miami. “I think the key thing is being consistent and checking in with each other periodically.”
Latino-van Splunteren and Jean-Baptiste shared their thoughts on the value of mentorship for women in the wireless infrastructure industry:
Why is it important to mentor women who are new to the industry?
Latino-van Splunteren: I believe that it is important to offer guidance and support to the young professionals joining our industry, regardless of their gender. It is no secret however that telecommunications has always been a very male dominated industry and for a young woman joining in it can be undoubtedly intimidating. By mentoring someone, we can help them fast-track their career and understand some of the dynamics without having to go to the trial-and-error phase that some of us had to go through, meanwhile being supported along the way. Just knowing that you are a call or an email away from someone that can give you valuable perspective on any situation or decision can really make a difference.
What is the value to you as someone who is newer to this industry in having a woman to mentor you?
Jean-Baptiste: It’s important for me to learn how to navigate my professional and personal life in an industry with very few women. My mentor has a solid background in the industry and a strong interest in mentoring. Our time together has been extremely valuable. I got to express my concerns and goals to someone who knows the challenges firsthand.
What advice would you give to a woman just getting started in the wireless infrastructure space?
Latino-van Splunteren: You are joining at a very exciting time! We are living the Digital Revolution as we speak, new technologies are changing the rules of engagement and are disrupting the way many things were done in the past, so the opportunities for anyone willing to learn and have a forward-thinking attitude are endless. I would also say that we are entering an era where women are being taken more seriously, and the industry is opening some space for us to voice our thoughts, vision and to really let us take on more leadership roles.
What have you learned through your mentorship relationship that has helped you in your day-to-day working life?
Jean-Baptiste: My mentorship relationship improved my day-to-day working life in a few ways. I’m more focused on developing solid relationships with my coworkers and others in my industry. Through my mentorship relationship, I learned to communicate effectively and take on any daily challenges with a go-getter mindset.
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