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Mentorship: Building Talent and Unlocking Company Growth

Jackson Georges Jr.
05 Apr 2022
Mentorship: Building Talent and Unlocking Company Growth

Congratulations to the graduates of the fourth round of Mentoring@CapitalG, a customized program that provides IC engineers with a confidential place to invest in their career development with the support of Google engineering leaders. This most recent cohort included 149 engineers from 14 portfolio companies, bringing us to 450+ portfolio employees mentored overall, adding to the 1200+ already trained engineers that have completed

Companies shifting from startup to scale-up can speed the process along by working with operators who have been in their shoes before. While the key attraction of a mentorship program like Mentoring@CapitalG is gaining proximity and advice from Googlers that have worked at a company that has already achieved massive scale, there is an added benefit of collaboration and career development that is invaluable, especially today, when work environments are so fluid.

On the heels of the graduation of our most recent Mentoring@CapitalG cohort, we wanted to explore the role that mentorship can play in helping a company scale. We talked with leaders from Webflow and Expel about their mentorship experiences and discussed how leaders from growing companies can leverage mentorship programs to foster the development of their teams.

More about Mentoring@CapitalG - Mentees participating in the Mentoring@CapitalG program meet three times 1:1 with their Google mentor and four times in a small group setting with engineers from other CapitalG

Building team connection

More companies than ever are thinking about hybrid and remote long-term futures, and mentorship is an example of cultural programming built for a hybrid culture. As the VP of Engineering of a remote-first company in hypergrowth, Webflow’s Arquay Harris has taken a proactive approach to mentorship. Arquay’s team of engineers participated in CapitalG’s recent mentoring cohort, and she always makes sure that team members kick off their onboard processes paired with a peer.

Mentoring networks are critical for building the relationships necessary to drive team engagement and product growth at Webflow. “You don’t have that tap-on-the-shoulder thing you might have if you were in an office,” Arquay said, so “when employees join Webflow, they’re assigned a mentor.” The engineers in the CapitalG mentoring program have shown particular excitement and engagement because “everyone wants to be mentored by somebody who knows what excellence looks like.”

Cat Fletcher, Expel’s VP of Engineering, discussed how helpful collaborations like Mentoring@CapitalG can be. “You get exposed to different mindsets, companies, and ideas,” Cat told us. “I’m super proud of the culture we’re continuing to build at Expel and in engineering in particular,” she added. “Where we once had siloed teams, we’re creating a pretty cohesive engineering organization.” Cat also mentioned how “the mentoring program helped foster cross-team collaboration, scaling the team without compromising the culture. We’re starting to see less friction around what our teams are delivering on.”

Empowering mentees to lead

As Dr. Carole Robin noted in her conversation with CapitalG leaders last year, “There’s something magical about really being curious.” The Googler mentors draw on their knowledge and work experiences to offer invaluable technical advice, from scaling architecture and making the transition to the cloud to mobile development, cybersecurity, and much more. However, it’s always up to the mentees to ask the right questions.

Mentees are responsible for taking initiative to drive the relationship and determine the pace, the route, and the destination. Tanya Flint, our Google Engineering Education program manager, focuses on the role of the mentee in her CapitalG orientations: "Mentees are taught how critical their role is in the mentoring relationship. It's a two-way street, and it's important that mentees feel comfortable driving these relationships for their own development."

While the future of work calls for leadership to be flexible, growth-focused companies need to build up their people. While the fastest way to pass on that knowledge is to mentor, no advice should be meant as an instruction manual. Integrate a learning culture into your company and empower your employees to lead with curiosity.

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