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The Partner Channel Podcast Episode #25

Summer Series Webinar Replay: The Power of Mentorship

Show Synopsis

In this special edition of the Partner Channel Podcast, we are replaying part of The Power of Mentorship webinar from the Women in Channel Summer Series. Katie Martinez, Director of Customer Experience, sits down with Dalyn Wertz, from Comcast Business Dalyn brings along one of her past mentees, Annie, to join the discussion. Dalyn reminisces on how she developed her intern program at Comcast Business and offers key advice for people interested in being mentored. Annie describes how this foundational internship drove her career path and taught her the soft skills need to be successful in the channel.

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The Script

Katie Martinez: Welcome to our webinar, we’re so excited that you’re here and that you’ve joined us. I’m really excited about this one, this webinar. So this is part of our women in the channel’s summer series. Today, we’re talking about the power of mentorship paving your career path. So I think this is one that can apply to kind of all of us in our professional lives. So I’m Katie Martinez. I’m the director of customer experience here at Allbound. I will be guiding the conversation. we’re talking about mentorship today, which I think is just a great tool and a resource that we all can use that I’m really excited to specifically talk to Dalyn and to Annie, who have a long relationship with one another, I they think bring a really unique long time relationship of mentoring one another.

Katie Martinez: So I’m going to let our panelists introduce themselves. First up, Dalyn, who is the executive director for the indirect channel program and marketing at Comcast Business. I’ll let you introduce yourself before I get to too far into that conversation.

Dalyn Wertz: Ok, thanks Katie, this is so fun, and I’ve been a little giddy to do this because this is Annie and obviously one of a topic that I just adore and I’m passionate about. So as Katie mentioned, I’m currently at Comcast Business, have been here for some years. I run our indirect program, which is an international program. We’ve got about 3,000 partners in our program and our program is ten years old. I’ve been in the channel since 94, some a bit of a channel fossil, dinosaur, I’m not sure what to call it. They call my boss, the godfather of channel, so I don’t know what that makes me. But I had been at a series of companies Level Three Communications, StorageTek, GE Access and have always been in channels so excited to be here. I did the math, I had seven interns in the twenty-five-plus-year span of my existence in the channel, and I’m proud to say most of them are just absolutely killing it. I’m so proud of my little babies. I always call them Turbo Interns, so I’m really excited to have her join in. I think there’s been a lot of lessons and takeaways from this conversation. And I think this is you need to talk about the power of mentoring, but also from someone that started being mentored and how she’s paid it forward so Annie, I’ll hand it over to you, I’d love to hear more about what you’re doing now.

Annie Fabik: Yes, thanks, Dalyn and Katie. I’m excited to be here, I’m Annie Fabik. I work for RSA Security in the channel. It’s a cybersecurity company. I’ve been there about nine years after a lengthy career, working primarily in data storage. So similar to Dalyn, I have moved around a bit. I was at Oracle and SIMicrosystems and StorageTek. And that’s where I originally got to meet Dalyn at a career fair so many years ago. And it’s just been a wild and fun path since then. So I’m excited to be here and to talk more about this.

Katie Martinez: Awesome, great. So kind of start the story a little bit because I’m going to ask you for your, like, each of your perspectives because you Dalyn hired Annie when Annie was right out of college. So I won’t give out the number unless you are comfortable with it. So it’s been a long relationship, but they’ve always kind of kept in contact, kind of stayed together, and reached out to one another, even sometimes purposefully. But, you know, when we were chatting last week, sometimes by accident as well. So, Dalyn, I’d like to start with you from your perspective. You know, talk about kind of that day you met and the expectations and, you know, just your kind of definition of what that relationship was going to going to look like.

Dalyn Wertz: I remember the day clearly. I’ll start with the topic of mentorship. And this story between me and Annie starts when Annie was right out of college and I was pretty early in my career. But I think mentorship is really a partnership and it spans your entire career. I think that will kind of come out in the conversation. Because Annie and I still bounce ideas off each other. I have a lot of women peers that I consider mentors. And it’s a relationship between the two of us constantly learning from each other. But the story with Annie is I was StorageTek and I was running channel marketing, I was asked by HR to man a recruitment effort at CU. So we had a little booth. I remember one of my first takeaways there are different ways you find mentors. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have a formal program that you can apply for and you’re matched. But will what I will say most of the time that I have to work with or that I found in my own career, it was more of a just happenstance or just a chance encounter. Or you meet someone that makes a profound impact on you or is memorable and you want to follow up with that person. So with this one and Annie just kind of came into our booth and I mean, she made an impact. She made a just a she definitely I remembered her and she followed up. So I’ll hand it over to Annie.

Annie Fabik: I think like so many of us leaving school, not knowing what my direction was, what I really wanted to do. And then I quite fortuitously came across Dalyn’s path. And I think that really, you know, forever changed the trajectory of my life and certainly my career path, not really knowing what it was exactly I was going to be doing. Then, Dalyn and I just there was instant chemistry and we just clicked. And it was just kind of one of those lightning in the bottle moments where I’m like, I have to go see what this is about. And then to Dalyn’s point followed up. And then from there, it turned into this multi-year mentorship. And also, I would say what has been important about it is that it’s spanned since the time we met. It had an impact from when we first met. But since then, we’ve always checked in. There’s always been times in my career where I need to give Dalyn a call and bounce something off of her. And so I think that’s the really valuable piece of it. When you meet someone that you have that connection with and see that they’re such a fit, you really need to take advantage of that.

Dalyn Wertz: I’ll give Annie credit because, you’re a Spanish major, so in channel was never in your focus. So you walked into that recruitment fair with a completely different expectation. Another takeaway is you just have to be open and to experiences. Because sometimes, especially, when you’re just starting your career and I’m lucky to have right now she’s going into her junior year and she’s going to get everything mapped out. And one of the first things I said is ‘just be aware of these experiences’ and ‘people are going to join your life and you need to be open to a different direction’. I think Annie you pretty much embraced that and just kind of went with it.

Annie Fabik: Yeah, absolutely. I think what’s important about mentoring is that it’s a collaboration. Right? It is absolutely a two way street where each party is bringing something to the table. It’s a dialog, a conversation. That’s what I think was so beneficial about about the experience for me coming in. You don’t learn a lot of the the soft skills that it takes to to navigate and find your way. Especially when you’re starting out, the simplest things can be really intimidating and difficult to figure out. So having that person that you can really trust, that’s kind of like a safe space for you to kind of voice concerns and go through issues that really is extremely helpful throughout your career and particularly at the beginning of your career.

Katie Martinez: Yeah, that’s fantastic I think that’s kind of sort of my first question, I think to both of you is really it seems really simple, but like how to define mentorship, because I think, you know, when I first saw the theme of this, I guess to me mentorship seems like a very formal, I guess, word where it’s you are my mentor. I am a mentee and there are roles. But after talking to the both of you, it’s really changed. I never really thought of it as collaborative. So Annie kind of in that same vein they are just talking about has to be a two way street. Like how did you approach kind of being or having a mentorship? Did having one change your expectations kind of coming into that relationship?

Annie Fabik: I think that’s where Dalyn’s piece was so important because she really set the table with expectations. And I think the first thing that that she did that I think is important for any mentor to do is to build trust. You can’t just start out of the gate guns blazing. It’s important to have that foundation and to create like I said, a space where you feel comfortable kind of expressing what your challenges are. And that was kind of fostered initially in our interaction. She kept saying, you’re just you’re a sponge, just take it all in. And so, you know, I just asked endless questions and Dalyn was great about kind of providing a lot of that nuanced guidance that you certainly don’t get in school. I can remember, you know, we’re going to a business dinner. And she said before we go into this, like, here’s the three things we need to get done during this that we want to take away from this. It’s that type of kind of nuanced advice and getting to watch her and how she worked that that really was beneficial as you’re learning these things for the first time.

Katie Martinez: So Dalyn, speaking of that foundation or like coming to the relationship. Clearly, you had an idea of what you were doing. So talk about how you kind of formed those. Here’s how I set expectations or here’s how I structured the relationship. How as a mentor, what are sort of the experiences or things that maybe we don’t think about that really can benefit from having a mentor? What are those nuances and how do we kind of structure those?

Dalyn Wertz: Yeah, I mean, I love what you said about the safe space. And I always, kind of find that relationship with someone that I’m mentoring, that’s one of the first things I say is, can I have permission to give you constructive feedback? I want you to know this is circle of trust. You can ask me anything because what I realized with people that are just starting the workforce is like Annie said. They don’t know how to conduct themselves at a business meeting. And suddenly they’re got the seafood tower and endless drinks. And it’s just a totally different dynamic or communication and email and the egos that you have to navigate all of that. And so, you know that’s the one thing when you first start your career, that is important. You know, one thing I’ll say is when you’re asking someone to mentor you and for those of you on the phone that mentored before, you know, we have full-time jobs. And I always like to say I have my day job, my night job, and my hobby, which is all my job. So, you know, we don’t have extra time to mentor. So that’s where it’s a two way street. And so, you know, to me what I get out of it and I loved is it’s incredible how much you personally grow when you give and talk about this experience torch. And, you know, it’s I feel like I have a responsibility to be grateful with everything I learned to pass it on. But, you know, as a mentor, if you’re not responding and you’re not accountable and if I don’t see that you’re taking what I’m providing you and if you’re not curious and asking more questions and pushing the limits, then it’s not worth my time. And so it’s you know, you definitely have to reciprocate and make sure it’s a two-way street. So for that, I mean, when I get energized is when I just see I remember Annie being so excited and asking questions. I remember I had one intern that said, why can’t I bring my girlfriend to this business dinner like the big and, you know, anywhere that I can help navigate, you know, there. Because when you’re thrown into it and you don’t have someone to ask, it’s easy, especially, you know, how aggressive and quick our industry is. You really only have one chance. So I think that’s really important.

Katie Martinez: Yeah. And coming from more of that, like mentor space, how such a weird question; how do you ask what do you like, what goes into starting that relationship. Like what are the sorts of things that, you know, even you’re looking for in that person or how they approach you? Like how do I approach someone like hi, can you mentor me? Like what? How to how do I start that?

Dalyn Wertz: Well, you know, I think it comes in a lot of different forms that could come into a form, you know, like the way Annie and I met. But, you know, I did not have a formal internship, Annie followed up with me. Annie was memorable. She probably even stalked me a little bit. And, you know, I was so impressed with her that I actually went to my boss and said, can I apply to get an intern? The current intern I have right now, Catherine, was the same thing. You know, I had to go beg H.R., but I just I saw the opportunity with her, you know? But for those of you and maybe you’re kind of midway in your career and how do I grow, I need to continue to grow. I feel kind of stuck. How can I continue to move? You know, sometimes if you can reach out and have a partner that can help help you navigate, advocate, that’s a great opportunity to reach out to someone. So, you know, there are so many online groups which I’m happy to provide. If you’re seeing someone on LinkedIn that you’re interested in, if you hear someone speak, you have to kind of have the guts to put yourself out there and you have to have the guts to follow up with them because you’re not going to hear from them the first time. And one thing I always mention, I get a lot of invitations on LinkedIn. I’ve gotten to the point, if you don’t include a note in the LinkedIn request, I won’t even consider you take the minute to read my profile. And if someone says, Oh, I see you went to Central Michigan, I’m from Michigan and I see that you used to work at Axis Graphics, you know you know, that kind of thing, I guarantee you I’m going to respond and then you make the ask. If you’re asking someone to spend time with you, you have to know what you’re asking for. So don’t just go into it and think you’re going to have coffee and then they’re going to give you the rest of their month. You need to have some structure and just say the information that you provided me is so valuable, I think that you could make a real impact. Would you be willing to spend an hour a month with me? In return, I want to share with you what I’m learning. Just kind of continue that experience and be clear and check-in. And when you think about it, if an internship or a mentorship isn’t a point in time, it needs to continue. So don’t put an end on it. I keep going back to Catherine, who’s interning with me right now, but I keep saying, OK, you’re going back to Villanova in August. What are we going to do to catch up? Stay in touch, because I want her to come back to me and say, hey, I was in a group project and I remembered what you said to me about know follow up and saying thank you and, you know, whatever it is. So, you know, just have purpose with what you do and be grateful. And I mean, thank you cards don’t hurt. I just got two bottles of wine from people that just were grateful for some advice, which I never expected. But I think all of those are good reminders

Katie Martinez: And that’s fantastic. And so I think, you know, Annie obviously with the footwork set a really good example for how to really follow up with that person. But how is this, like, shaped your career now or do you mentor others, like how is that and we’ve talked, like, paying it forward, like talk a little bit about that?

Annie Fabik: So I think one of the things that’s helpful in this is that you’re not looking for a mentor to solve your problems and giving you solutions to all of your issues. They’re more providing that framework so that you feel comfortable in figuring it out and navigating it yourself and then also building the confidence to do so. Right. So a lot of times you might already kind of know what you should be doing, but you might just lack the confidence to be able to execute on it or to be able to move forward with it. So having that mentor, that sounding board, that person that you can bounce it off of can you can really be extremely helpful. So I think early in my career that was so useful. I’ve always had a mentor and mentors in different capacities and it’s been tremendously helpful. I certainly don’t think I could get to the place that I am without that help. And I have since done quite a bit of mentoring and I find it extremely satisfying and it feels great to take the things that I learned and to pass those on.

Annie Fabik: And that’s why I think it’s it’s helpful, you know, a couple of things that are good to keep in mind. One, it’s nice to have a mentor or mentors that are in different groups than you’re in. Right. So different. It could be different industries or different departments. People work in different ways and you can take different things from different personality types. So by not limiting yourself to just your department or just your skill set, I think that’s that’s really useful. And it’s also useful to take someone who’s like more towards the end of their career when they have a lot of wisdom and maybe someone who’s a few years in, someone who’s even just three years ahead of you can provide a lot of guidance. That’s really tactical about specific to earlier in the career. So so, you know, don’t limit yourself. I think it’s really helpful to have a long a short term and long term view. And so to Dalyn’s point just being open to different types of people who can provide different guidance for you that’s kind of prescriptive.

Katie Martinez: Yeah, I love that. And I think to your point that I think we get really maybe tunnel vision, I’ll call it, where it’s like I need to find someone who is either doing exactly what I want to do or is that future version of me. But it’s OK to kind of. Not focus on that, and I think, you know, you talk about some of those nuanced things. What better way to get those than from those that maybe aren’t in your same industry or in your same role that. Even if you did find someone who totally lined up with what your end goal was, you may miss out on some of those pieces. So I really like that.

Thank you guys again so, so much. This is great love chatting with you, hearing about your relationship, but also how we can kind of go out and and embrace mentorship and, you know, bring it into the channel, help support one another. Really, really appreciate seeing you all here. Have a great rest of your day and hopefully we connect soon.