Mentor Spotlight: Pam Taylor-Paris
Today we're talking to Pam Taylor-Paris, a very experienced hands-on Technologist and Strategic Development Lead at Oracle, focused primarily on building out services for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
Prior to joining Oracle, she played key roles in a handful of software startup companies that were subsequently acquired by Lycos Systems, Iron Mountain, GE, IBM and Microsoft.
Pam holds a software patent for her work at Groove Networks prior to its acquisition by Microsoft (patent # US7734690 B2).
We spoke with Pam to hear about how she spent years building and mentoring teams in her career and how she approaches being a mentor.
Read the full spotlight below to learn more about Pam, her professional journey and why she was really excited to be part of the UNH Mentoring Program!
Hey Pam, could you tell us a little about your career path and what brought you to your current work?
I graduated with a Computer Science degree from the University of Vermont and started at Raytheon designing air traffic control systems as a software engineer. Throughout my career, I was always writing code even as a director. In 2001, I began working with startup companies because I wanted to have a say in all aspects of the business from working with the customer all the way from idea through delivery. I did about 6 startups before finally burning out and transitioned to software consultancy. This allowed me to treat every project like a startup. Oracle wanted to partner with one of the practices I was running and that ultimately led to my joining Oracle to help build their partner program as the Lead Engineer and Director for Technical M&A for Oracle Cloud.
You mentioned your experience with startups and desire to have influence across the business—but do you think there were other reasons you were led to become a strategic director at Oracle?
I never focused on my gender so didn’t feel limited by it but certainly felt the challenges of the dual lifestyle. All of my experience building teams, companies and culture over the years really prepared me to be successful in my current role today. Everything I did up to this point led me to where I ended up.
So how did you get into mentoring? How would you describe your approach, and what you try to achieve when working with mentees?
This is the first time I am formally doing this beyond having my own children and building teams. I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room; I want to know who to call that is the smartest person. Your best employees are your happiest employees – well-rounded both personally and professionally. I want to build a team that is passionate about what they are doing and where everyone has a voice at the table.
The best products are built by the most diverse teams.
What’s the biggest buzz you’ve got during your time mentoring?
Across the board it is when my mentee has an Aha! moment. When people understand that what they are feeling is normal, it’s okay and they can move past it. Your context is your context and when you open a door so they can see into your world, the benefits are as much to you as it is to them.
What would you say that you get from mentoring, both personally and professionally?
I get to have a relationship with a fantastic young woman who is about to launch her future and witness her up and coming success. I have learned that all my experience through my career, conferences, advice I've received and books I have read has given me a legitimate toolkit to work with a mentee. I never would have seen it before and I'm starting to think I should write that book I've been considering for the last 10 years.
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?
Think about who you were all those years ago and what you could have gained if you had a conversation with the you that you are today after all that you have learned.
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?
You always need to have a 5 year plan. It allows you to stage everything you do to attain that goal. Here's your opportunity to look through the window of your mentor's experience and gain a perspective that you will never learn in school.
How do you think mentoring can help create an inclusive culture?
In the context of our careers we are always trying to be inclusive of those with diverse opinions, lifestyles, cultures and backgrounds. Through mentoring you can give someone a flavor of experience they wouldn't otherwise have and provide them the opportunity to think differently and be inclusive.
Finally… funniest story from your career so far?
I had a partner at one of my past companies that had an appointment with a pharmaceutical company. He wasn't able to make the appointment due to a conflict and asked me to go instead. He gave me the address and told me to wear boots and a raincoat. When I arrived at the address, I was at a goat farm. It turned out they were make a drug through the reproduction of goat milk. So I spent the morning mucking around on the farm and met a goat with one ear named Van Goat. We took the meeting to their headquarters in Boston for the afternoon where I sat in the office still in my muck boots.
Want to join the ranks of Pam as a mentor in our upcoming program? Apply today!