Mentorships are helping mold, guide emerging leaders

Mentor (n.) an experienced and trusted adviser, according to an online dictionary.

A mentor is also more specifically defined as someone who helps you with your career, specific work projects, or general life advice.

Because mentoring can have a positive, long-lasting impact on a person’s life or career, it’s a key component of CPS Energy’s Emerging Leaders Cohort (ELC) program.

Earlier this year, 16 employees were selected to participate in the ELC, a professional development opportunity being piloted by the company. They were equally divided into four teams, and during a team-building exercise each came up with their own name.

Today, we continue our series spotlighting the groups as we meet up with team G.R.I.P. But first things first, we had to find out what G.R.I.P. stands for. We learned that each letter represents the group’s expertise or a value important to them: Galvanize, Respect, Integrity, People First!

Read on to find out what else team G.R.I.P. shared and what valuable nuggets they’re grasping from their ELC mentoring experience that will help propel them in their careers and futures.

An eye-opening experience

Ricky De Leon, a Designer in Customer Engineering, has nearly 15 years of experience at CPS Energy. But it wasn’t until participating in the ELC that he experienced a mentorship. Ricky said it was something he wished he had taken advantage of a whole lot earlier in his career.

“It’s really opened my eyes to different perspectives, different areas of the company,” he said, adding, “It’s allowed me to take a deep view of myself, see where I’m at, and to understand that it’s OK to be vulnerable, to open up and show your talents.”

Ricky and the other ELC participants routinely meet with two mentors — both senior leaders from our People & Culture area – in group sessions where they’re receiving an abundance of guidance, support and information. The mentees have learned about career development tools to help them with career goals and gained a deeper understanding of their SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis. They’ve also received guidance on their individual development plans and elevator pitches – those brief, impactful synopses that describe your background and experience.

Along with the support they’re receiving from the People & Culture mentors, the ELC teams have had the opportunity to visit with several other leaders from across the company who spoke of their career experiences and life lessons while offering valuable advice and support.

A platform to succeed

Dena De La Fuente, Jose De La Vega and Matthew Burke understood the value of mentorships, even before applying for the ELC, because each had mentors either at or outside of CPS Energy. Nonetheless, they’re amazed by how much they’ve learned in the five short months since the ELC kickoff in March.

“CPS Energy is a great company and they work with their employees to grow and succeed. I’ve never had this at any other company I’ve worked for,” said Dena, a Fleet Operations Coordinator in Fleet Asset Management.

Dena says she and the other 15 ELC participants have networked with numerous CPS Energy leaders and other individuals, plus they’ve been able to get to see what other business units do on a day-to-day basis, from safely climbing poles to restore power, to testing gloves that can save someone’s life, to being out in the community assisting customers.

Like Dena, Jose De La Vega, a Security Architect in the Enterprise Information Technology department, was intrigued by what all the different areas of the company do on a daily basis and the value they bring to the company. “It’s a large organization, understanding how the business works in all those different areas of the company really pays dividends to becoming a better leader.”

Aside from networking, Jose says the mentoring available through the ELC is helping him identify how to proceed with his goals and equip him for a successful future. “It’s given me that platform to reach out to individuals, ask the right questions and prep me to be a confident leader.”

Matthew Burke shared similar sentiments. “The mentoring is giving us the building blocks we need to go forward in our careers and help us make those tough decisions on our leadership journeys,” said the Engineering Associate in Transmission Engineering.

Before participating on the ELC and even joining CPS Energy, Matthew took advantage of another learning experience at the utility when he was a high school student. He participated in our company’s SAFE (Student Assistance for Education) program and spent his summers working and learning at our utility.

Asked what’s the best advice he’s received that he would like to share with others, Matthew quickly responded, “Be open to learning and accepting opportunities when they come up.”

All 16 ELC participants have been deeply immersed in the program since its kickoff. In addition to meeting with senior leaders, visiting with other areas in the company and meeting with their mentors, the ELC participants have begun working on their capstone projects, which they’ll present at their graduation ceremony in November. For their capstone projects, the teams are developing comprehensive strategies for solving real issues at the company.

Stay tuned to our Newsroom, where we’ll continue our ELC series and feature the two other teams.

Pam Maris

Pam is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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