“Women Go Tech” is a mentoring program dedicated to helping women start and accelerate their careers in IT and engineering. In-person meetings with a dedicated mentor have already helped many women learn about the exciting world of technologies and what it’s like to work in IT. What’s even more exciting is that mentorship benefits both mentors and mentees.
This time, we decided to share an inspiring story of our mentor Arūnas Bytautas from “Genius Sports” and his mentee Viktorija Kizik-Abolichina. Both of them agree that the mentorship experience brought valuable insights and discussions. And the best part is that you can apply whatever you learned to solve real problems.
“Genius Sports” is the official data, technology and broadcast partner powering the global ecosystem connecting sports, betting and media.Its technology is used in over 150 countries, creating data-driven products that enrich fan experiences for the entire sports industry. Genius Sport is the trusted partner to over 400 sports organisations, including the NFL, EPL, FIBA and NCAA. Genius has been a proud partner of WGT for several years and as a company is passionate about providing equal opportunities for all.
Arūnas, can you tell us more about how you decided to become a mentor? Where did you find the motivation to teach other people?
I’ve been in management for more than 15 years. What defines a successful manager? It’s the output of the teams a manager is working with. The most important thing is to reach results with the hands of others. One way or another, you have to become a mentor. A good manager also grows his own successors, and mentoring is one of the most powerful tools to do that. I find it very fulfilling to do mentoring from a personal perspective.
The main reason is that learning never stops, and this is something that drives me.
Viktorija, a similar question to you – why did you decide to become a mentee?
The main reason is that learning never stops, and this is something that drives me. Another thing is that the tech area is so wide and attractive. I believe most of us can find a place there; you just should keep discovering and trying. “Women Go Tech” is a fantastic opportunity to achieve this.
Can you tell us a bit more about your mentoring sessions? What are you focusing on, and what do both of you get from this experience?
Arūnas: We started mentoring sessions with Viktorija as soon as we exchanged contacts. Our mentorship passed three different stages. First, Viktorija wanted to know more about project management and its subtleties. I did some presentations about Agile, roles, and how it works. I also explained company specifics and what to pay attention to. Second, after the first couple of sessions, Viktorija started a new role in the new company, which resulted in pivoting her questions toward real company situations, which was even more fun! I would raise her questions/areas to focus on for the next session, and she would bring back the situations for analysis, as well as her observations. The third stage is about Viktorija coming forward with what she wants to achieve. She comes up with her own questions and topics; we discuss them and exchange opinions, knowledge, and experience.
My onboarding in the new organization went smoother and with a deeper understanding.
Viktorija: As I became a mentee in “Women Go Tech,” I started to work in a tech startup. Mentorship sessions became an excellent opportunity to bring up all the questions from my everyday work. My mentor is a very experienced Software Development management practitioner who has been through different projects in IT and HR multiple times. So we’ve been focusing not only on the project management theory but also on practical aspects of what works, what doesn’t, etc. My onboarding in the new organization went smoother and with a deeper understanding. Moreover, I was able to suggest improvements in some of the processes.
Mentoring is a long-term relationship tailored to specific situations and needs of the mentee.
In your opinion, what are the main differences between mentoring programs and regular courses? Why is mentoring becoming popular nowadays?
Arūnas: Mentoring is a long-term relationship tailored to specific situations and needs of the mentee. In contrast, in courses, you learn theory and get some knowledge exchange and interaction on particular topics relevant to the whole group between the participants. Both are great but for different purposes.
Viktorija: Mentoring program isn’t just plain theory; it’s a number of valuable practical advice and real stories from an experienced mentor. It’s about the individual approach and helping to find the answers to the areas that matter most. It feels that tech is around you, not somewhere far away.
I’m also happy about the motivation and preparation Viktorija brings; it’s the most important thing to achieve great results.
Arūnas, can you tell us what mentors expect from their mentees? Should they somehow prepare for the sessions?
Arūnas: There are two things that are needed. First, agree on the goals, and second, take little steps toward these goals. These steps sometimes involve reading a book or article, googling something, or interviewing the company to understand the situation. I’m also happy about the motivation and preparation Viktorija brings; it’s the most important thing to achieve great results. A mentor is just a tool that is used by a mentee to accomplish goals.
There were plenty of valuable and practical aspects in our mentoring sessions. This was an excellent opportunity to shape my future career and skills.
Viktorija, what do mentees expect from their mentors? What were the key things you expected from this experience?
Viktorija: I expected a strong hands-on mentor, which was the case with Arūnas. He showed me how I could build my future and answered all my questions. I didn’t get some abstract statements that could fit everywhere; I learned real examples and role-modeling situations. I also have a list of books to read and materials that helped me (and still do) make various decisions. There were plenty of valuable and practical aspects in our mentoring sessions. This was an excellent opportunity to shape my future career and skills.
For myself, it’s also essential to get feedback and understand how I may be of help. Given that, building a relationship is also important.
What are the key ingredients to achieving successful results from mentee and mentor perspectives?
Arūnas: Again, motivation is the key, and I think real-life situations drive motivation the most because you can apply whatever you learned to solve real problems. For myself, it’s also essential to get feedback and understand how I may be of help. Given that, building a relationship is also important. Trust makes this happen, and building it requires curiosity, openness, and motivation.
Viktorija: Keep asking whenever you have doubts; even if your question looks stupid, be curious. Do your homework, prepare for each mentoring session, and study the theory; a mentoring session isn’t the best time to do it. Try to understand how theory may apply in your current job. Ask a mentor for practical advice – what works, what doesn’t, and in what situation. Usually, there’s no silver bullet that fits everywhere.