Today we're talking to Katie Smith, Team Lead of Technical Account Management at Oracle.
Previously, she attended Southern New Hampshire University and studied Information Technology.
Katie is a technology enthusiast and spends her spare time involved in organizations that empower women in STEM, like Women of OCI, TechWomen/TechGirls, and Oracle Women Lead.
We spoke with Katie to hear about her experiences being a mentor since college.
Read the full spotlight below to learn more about Katie and her approach to mentoring.
Hey Katie, could you tell us a little about your career path and what brought you to your current work?
I went to school for information technology but behind every career decision has been a combination of a love for tech and a passion for working with customers. I currently lead the Technical Account management group at Oracle. This role bridges the gap by being focused in technology but also providing me with that human connection.
You mentioned your love of tech and passion for customer service—but do you think there were other reasons you were led to become a lead for the technical account management group?
I had a really strong relationship with management who pushed me and challenged me to change my way of thinking. They saw my potential early on which enabled me to have the confidence to take risks. Now I carry that forward with my team.
So how did you get into mentoring? How would you describe your approach, and what you try to achieve when working with mentees?
I actually started mentoring in college. As part of an environmental science elective, I worked with elementary school students to build a community approach. I realized I can have an impact on someone else. I had a lot of really great mentors and now my team is drawn to me for coaching and so now I am organically mentoring team members at Oracle.
My approach is to foster unique thoughts inside the mentee. I try to provide support without removing responsibility – challenging them to think without telling them what to do. My end goal is to help build up my mentees' skills and confidence in themselves to make decisions on their own.
What’s the biggest buzz you’ve got during your time mentoring?
The most exciting thing was when a coworker approached me when she was having a problem with her manager. I shaped their critical thinking and validated my ability to teach them how to operate.
What would you say that you get from mentoring, both personally and professionally?
Personally it helps me develop a deep sense of empathy that a younger version of me would have glossed over. I now take time to understand where people are coming from.
Professionally it helps me build credibility and trust across the organization with people that I wouldn’t typically wouldn’t work with.
One word -- verb, noun, adjective, adverb -- that describes a Mentor's role.
Are there any tips you’d give to new mentors who are unsure what they’re letting themselves in for?
Go for it! It won’t take over your entire life and you will make such a huge difference.
Be authentic and understand what the mentee is looking to gain. Don’t take over the relationship.
Don’t underestimate what you have to offer someone else.
And how about mentees who’ve never experienced 1-on-1 mentoring before—do you have any advice on how they can approach the experience to get the maximum benefit from it?
Make sure you know what you are looking to gain – get advice, build your network.
Something I learned through this mentoring program that you should look outside of your current field for a mentor. I've realized with my current mentee that an environmental science engineer and someone with a tech background can still connect on so many levels.
How do you think mentoring can help create an inclusive culture?
Mentoring brings people from all different paths to the same playing field. It helps people have conversations with seasoned professionals without being intimidated by them.
Finally… funniest story from your career so far?
The best one that I have is at the very beginning at my first visit at Dyn. I was working as a receptionist for a professor and the professor’s husband worked at Dyn. He walked me in to the building for a visit and introduced me to the manager. Not long into the conversation, he asked me, "Katie, do you know what we do here?"" That's when I realized I was actually on an interview.
You can find more information on becoming a mentor and participating in our next program here.