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How Stantec’s mentor program enhanced the careers of two interior designers

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” These famous words from Winston Churchill aptly reflect what it means to mentor a colleague and the impact it can have on your career and life.

At Stantec, we are committed to challenging and empowering our work force to exceed their professional and life goals. Our mentoring program provides professional development, connections with peers, and exposure to projects across the firm, thereby strengthening our teams and helping individuals grow. For two members of our interior design team—Rebecca Keehner, and Jen Taylor—being a part of the mentor program was a career-enhancing experience.

When Jen joined Stantec in January 2018, she actively began looking for ways to get involved and meet new colleagues, so she turned to the Interior Design Mentorship Program. 

“The program was the perfect opportunity to get to know other team members outside of my office and gain different perspectives on the company,” Jen said. “I was lucky enough to be paired with both a mentor and a mentee, which let me learn a great deal about the diversity of our projects and the different communities Stantec serves.”

At the outset of the program, Jen wanted to gain insights on other Stantec offices and the types of work they do. Her mentor, Rebecca, is based in Sacramento, Calif., more than 3,000 miles away from Jen’s office in Boston. Rebecca shared examples of her work and experience with projects that focused on workplace design.

“It’s been very interesting to compare the similarities and differences in design trends between Boston and Sacramento.,” Jen said. “I was inspired by Rebecca’s drive and passion for design. Her technical skillset has allowed her to stay involved in 3D modeling, which is not common at her level. Learning how she was able to customize her role gave me valuable insights as I work to define my own path between architecture and interior design.”

           Jen Taylor

Finding a new perspective

For Rebecca, being a mentor to Jen became more than an opportunity to support a colleague, it helped her think about her profession and experience in a completely different light. 

“I was surprised at how much I learned from my discussions with Jen,” Rebecca said. “In some ways, being asked, ‘How do you do this?’ made me think about my processes in greater detail. As a result, I ended up formalizing some of my day-to-day tasks that I’d previously just thought of as being intuitive.” 

Rebecca said that mentoring Jen allowed her the chance to reflect on her own career and experiences. As a result, she was able to enhance her career while helping Jen develop her own. Their discussion calls would cover a broad range of topics that spanned beyond their work as designers, specifically leadership styles. Rebecca noted she felt it was important the two discuss ways to inspire teams and manage teams to optimize outcomes. 

“Our calls were incredibly rewarding,” Rebecca said. “I found discussing work with someone who is as passionate about your field as you are almost therapeutic. Being able to have a conversation about processes, design and leadership often felt reenergizing and made me feel excited to go back to work.” 

The mentee becomes the mentor

Like Rebecca, Jen found mentoring a colleague to be equally inspiring. Based in our office in Plano, Texas, Christina connected with Jen over an interest in learning about the projects other Stantec offices were involved in. By working with both a mentor and a mentee, Jen was able to receive double the exposure to different design projects. 

“Since Boston’s interiors group is larger than Plano’s, I was able to share some of our design and presentation tools that Christina could directly apply to her own projects,” Jen said. “I remember on one particular call she walked me through a presentation for a vocational school she had been working on. I really enjoyed seeing her unique and thoughtful design approach, which was specific to the site and location, but shared common themes with some of my projects as well.”

She added, “As she shared her professional goals throughout our mentor relationship, I became invested in her success and we shared in the excitement as she accomplished multiple goals over the course of a year.”

Building connections with a mentor helps to break down some of those barriers that exist between offices and has made access to additional resources easier.

             Rebecca Keehner

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