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Hiring Crunch? Use Mentoring & Advisory to Grow Your Own Tech Talent


The scramble to hire tech talent in the channel has been going on for quite a while. The pandemic didn’t cause it, but it certainly didn’t help it, either.

Despite the nearly 5 million tech job openings, competition for tech talent in the channel is fierce. In addition, prospective employees and clients alike have a stated preference for companies with a diverse workforce. Kathryn Rose, founder of ChannelWise, knows how you can effectively deal with both challenges at the same time.

Rose will moderate a three-person panel at November’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo in a discussion of using mentoring and advisory to attract diverse talent. The session will look at what mentoring and advisory are, how they differ and how each one can be used. Panelists will also discuss their own experiences with mentoring and advisory and offer tips on being a mentor or launching a program.

We got a sneak peek from Rose on the issues that will be informing the session.

Channel Partners: Does the tech/communications channel have unique challenges in developing a more diverse workforce, or are all industries contending with basically the same things?

Kathryn Rose: Tech has a bit more of a challenge because of the specialized nature of some of the expertise needed. Traditionally, underrepresented populations have not had the same level of access to education, nor were they encouraged to go into technology-related occupations. That is changing with so many of the great organizations like Tech Girlz, Black Girls Code and others who are working hard to change it. But companies have to adjust to remote workforces and the fact that employees need more flexibility and encouragement into leadership positions, particularly for these historically marginalized groups.  

ChannelWise's Kathryn Rose

CP: You have two enterprises, WiseHer and ChannelWise, both of which provide access to experts in a number of fields. WiseHer’s goal is to “empower women to rise higher” and ChannelWise’s mission is to “empower the channel to grow.” Where do you see areas of overlap? Where do you see unique needs for women vs. the channel?

KR: When I started wiseHer it was focused on women but not exclusive of men. From the beginning we had those who identify as male as experts and members. Through the COVID-19 pandemic though, the challenges of all small businesses were illuminated. We started to see more and more support needed from the entire demographic.

We are launching ChannelWise to help partners get the support they need as well as to help vendors supply it. Live events have not come back entirely, so the engagement model must change. In addition, the platform has evolved from being one of an expert marketplace to a technology platform that can be adapted for many use cases. Vendors and communities can use our platform to connect partners to internal as well as external resources.

CP: What has your experience with mentoring been? How do you think it has affected your career path?

KR: In my experience, the word "mentor" suggests a 1:1 long term relationship. Many don’t have time or that. I see mentoring more as what we offer on our platforms: advisory — help on what you need, when you need it.

I have had so many "mentors" over the years, but I have found none better than those here in tech. It has affected my career path by opening my eyes to possibilities. I've been so blessed to have a deep bench of advisers — what some would call “mentors” — and could not have gotten where I am without their support.

CP: What do you think is the most important thing about mentoring?

KR: I think making sure that you understand what it is and why you are looking for it. Mentoring versus coaching versus sponsoring versus advisory versus therapy — that’s what you need to look at. How do you define mentorship and what are you looking to get from it?

I think clear expectations are the best in any relationship. But in my mind, mentoring is a combination of all of those things. You have to be willing to listen, empathize and lift the other person up. Give them a boost of confidence or a framework for difficult conversations. Shepherd the rise of someone's career. 

CP: If you could offer only one piece of advice on mentoring, what would it be?

KR: Be clear about your expectations. What is it you want as an outcome?

I really don't like it when I go to conferences, particularly women's conferences, when the advice from the stage is "find a mentor.” I see the faces of the folks in the audience looking around like "Who can I find for a mentor?” It’s not that simple.

Executives and others in technology must be willing to put in the time and effort. But they can only do this when everyone understands the expectations..

Don't go looking for a mentor. Instead, find people who can become part of your "bench" and pull the right levers when you need them to. If you do find a long-term mentor out of those conversations, it will be more natural. Those are the relationships that tend to last.

Channel Partners Conference & Expo