Time for Mentoring

When Your Mentors and Mentees Don't Have Time for Mentoring

No one can put more hours in the day, but we can give you a few tips and strategies to make the most of the hours you – and your mentors and mentees – do have.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Diversity in the Financial Sector

Charitable time off,
Women's flexibility programs,
Celebrating Black History Month,
LGBTQ communities,
International mobility,

...are just the tip of the iceberg for the innovation that financial services organizations provide to employees to promote internal goodwill and enhance tolerance and diversity. Why?

The financial services sector, in general, understood very early the importance of reflecting themselves to the ever growing diversity of the marketplace.

EY is well known for their global entrepreneur of the year competition and awards. This program has now stratified into segmentation of entrepreneurs geographically and by gender. For example, "Asian Women Entrepreneur of the Year." It's not diversity for the sake of diversity, but rather diversity for the sake of survival and intelligent recognition of a multicultural globalization economy.

The financial service industry is a beacon for changing human rights in the most unlikely of places around the globe by elevating and recognizing the talents of all citizens from every country and walk of life.

Capitalists For Good

Catalyst is a well known international women's development organization. Many leading FS executives have chaired to recognize and promote the development of women in all sectors. 

It's getting to the point of extreme specificity when you have an organization, like EY, indexing the percentage of women - year over year - in board seats in the world's largest power and utility companies. Way to go! 

Financial Services Diversity Leadership Awards are given out every year in February by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in the United States. The NGLCC names Top Financial Services Firms for their practices. Among the list are the world's best and brightest FS executives and organizations. 

We live in a time where diversity is driving business thinking and understanding regulation advisory services and even tax implications, as with the recent ruling for gay marriage in the United States. All major FS organizations signed on to the Amicus Brief for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of gay marriage. While many of them are starting tax preparation services focused on gay couples or advising governments around the globe on changing policies to support an inclusive, diverse world. 

Insala is proud to have supported both Deloitte and EY with technology and consulting services that helped shape more inclusive working environments. In particular, Deloitte's career development initiatives, supported by Insala, led to recognition by Catalyst.org and many other awards in the ten years of partnership. 

Reverse Mentoring for Financial Services

The financial services industry is built on high uses of technology, specialized knowledge and efficiency. Senior managers who have grown up in the financial service sector are abreast of, and proficient on using technology. But here's the thing: financial services (FS) are known for early adoption especially in consulting. That means new technologies are always being tried and integrated, which can be overwhelming for anyone - seasoned in the high pressure FS. Before you pull your hair out, FS professionals, you might want to look into organizations, mentoring programs, and discover the benefits of reverse mentoring.

Supporting Technology Adoption 

The mentor might be sitting right outside your office, multi-tasking on periscope, snap chat, Instagram, Facebook, and their daily work assignments all while using the technology your comfortable using. 

Reverse mentoring is taking advantage of skill sets of people in all levels of the organization who perhaps might be unlikely mentors traditionally. Reverse mentoring, also known as digital mentoring, is clearly beneficial when we are talking about technology. 

Diversity and Managerial Skills 

Reverse mentoring is also used for matters of diversity and social responsibility. What does that mean? Specifically, people who are very different, with different ideas, backgrounds, life experiences, culture, orientation, may be tapped on the shoulder to enhance FS professionals worldview, helping them to become a more well-rounded consultant, manager, or colleague.

One program running in the United Kingdom, by an organization named Radius, actually connects LGBTQ individuals with board members of FS organizations to help them better understand what it means to be "out" in the workplace.

Insala celebrates its twenty year anniversary in April 2016. Most of those years were spent supporting the world's leading financial services organizations. Insala has always been a young technology company, providing reverse mentoring for its clients.

Challenges for Large Alumni Programs

Alumni program challenges for any organization will differ depending on the size of the alumni program that is to be launched. It’s essential to firstly understand these challenges before the alumni program commences. In addition adhering to the below solutions provided will result in positive feedback as well as successful ROI's and increased retention in the organization. 

What are the biggest challenges for large alumni programs?
  • Communication: Communication is number one because it is imperative to the organization as it is to the alumni as well as the current employee - really, this is the key element for all parties. If the organization fails to inform their employees of the goal of the alumni program, or the specifics, or even if the "buzz" sounds more like "crickets," the program will never reach its potential. 
  • Alignment: The big idea for a large alumni program is current employees understand that they are the future alumni from day one and the organization must adopt progressive human resources, policies, and development experiences that extend from on boarding to post-employment consistently. Employees cannot have an inconsistent experience in a large organization and then be expected to be brand ambassadors years after they leave. 
  • Involvement: If the whole organization is allowed to partake in the program, then everyone in it may examine the actual program but fail to ever go further in creating relationships. This is exactly the opposite of what the program is intended for. 
  • Relationships: Larger programs have a higher risk that relationships won't work partly because the human side is lost. Not every employee is going to be  satisfied in a large organization environment and therefore may not be suitable brand ambassadors. 
How has Insala eliminated these challenges?
  1. Before the program is  launched we recommend that organizations  create a strong, exciting philosophy that engages the entire workforce around the benefits of an alumni network. Overcome the challenges and fears that are well known, for example: top talent going to competitors. Marketing campaigning for the program that will enhance involvement but also provide a clear, concise effort to communicate to employees with what the program is all about. This means continuous communication, the benefits of the program and why the organization is doing it. 
  2. Managers and leadership must agree on the ground rules of the journey from employment to alumni. For example: attitudes must be positive when people take the decision to leave. They must not be seen as the enemy, or turn coat. Treat all leaders with respect, dignity, respecting their life decisions and encouraging ongoing communication and involvement via the alumni network. 
  3. In large programs we have created specialized alumni software communication tools that will remind those in the program on specific items that they need to do, gather feedback, log and update goals that way the organization receives the data they need to support alumni and to benefit the organization from the alumni engagement. 
  4. Data and privacy. A large organization's alumni program is truly a service for the internal market; business development, CRM, re-employment, and referrals. For this to work smoothly, the large alumni program must have access to fantastic amounts of data that is up to date and easily manipulated for reporting purposes to very different audiences. Easier said than done. 

Insala's alumni solutions support the world's largest and most sophisticated multinational, multilingual, matrix, decentralized regional geographic programs with tremendous abilities for automation of data, integration with internal systems and reporting. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Become Irresistible for Your Alumni

We’ve all heard about the war for talent, but have you heard about the war for alumni? Possibly not, but it's real. Basically, top talent have usually worked for several organizations and are being courted by multiple alumni programs.

So how do you position yourself and ultimately win the war for alumni? Make yourself irresistible. 

First of all, you must look at what attracts top talent. Why did they choose to join your organization? What differentiates your organization? How much of that can you maintain for your alumni? 

When you look at the various segments within alumni such as;
  • Alumni - 
  • VIP/High Potentials - 
  • Friends of the firm -  
(Some organizations also encourage current employees to partake in their alumni community)
We know all the great reasons, or ways alumni assists your organization, but why would they choose to engage with you? Especially when they are no longer on the payroll!

What does an alumni program offer these groups? 
  • Job Opportunities
  •  Networking Opportunities 
  • Special Events 
  • Alumni Stories 
  • Access to Company News & Info 
  • Exclusive Perks & Discounts 
  • Career Development & Services
This is not an exhaustive list, but if you are thinking about these components, or even better, you are looking at segmented populations of alumni, recognizing different outreach appeals differently helps get you on the right track. 

Is Your Alumni Community a Two Way Street?

When was the last time you went to a networking event, or a gallery opening, and you stood in front of 10, 100, or even 1,000 attendees and told them all about the great things you have done in the past 30 days? 

Sounds ridiculous, right? I am sure this has never been your personal experience. 

Alumni networks can provide a platform for your alumni to share their experiences and their profiles which allows you to engage and communicate with your fellow alumni.

Leading programs are finding it imperative to engage alumni in an involved dialog. No one is perfect and every exchange of communication has to have the thought of quid pro quo. 

We want feedback, and we need feedback to know if we are on target with our alumni requirements. Wouldn't it also be fantastic if our alumni had channels to share information with us? Even before we asked them for their feedback? 

Today more than ever before, there are more resources to engage alumni and foster a symbiotic relationship. 

Below are four ideas and two tools that we find useful:

1.     Survey and polls
2.     Like, share, comment, tweet, refer and reward;
3.     News stories, picture and video submissions;
4.     Mentoring


1.     Deep integration capabilities with social media and social networking sites
2.     Powerful messaging and content management tools 

Remember - no one wants to only hear about the company, or the alumni program. They want to mold into the community and have a way to interact. What is really in it for the alumni will be discussed in other blog submissions; ensuring you have capability and mindfulness to create interactive opportunities and content will go all the way for your program and your alumni interactions.

4 Tips to Levering Technology to Engage Your Alumni

Picture this: It's 1980 and you are organizing a party for your best friend. It's the big 4-0. Where do you begin? Telephone calls, printed invitations - with custom stationary, gathering names, addresses, and telephone numbers, RSVP cards... the list goes on. Flash forward to present day and creating parties is as easy as a few clicks to get the ball going on Facebook. Technology has changed the game on engaging with others. 

The same is true now for corporate alumni and technology solutions. When leveraged correctly, seemingly huge administrative tasks morph into an efficient and manageable process. 

Process: It's the name of the game. Know your brand, manage your alumni data and program, and engage your audience externally as well as internally. Report on the results and demonstrate return on investment. 


So if process is the name of the game, shouldn't the technology be sufficient enough to support our process? The question is no. Challenging that rule of thinking, SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions have evolved to do incredible amounts and various types of tasks. In the past we looked for technology to support our process, but it's safe now to look at how the robust solutions deliver best practices. Essentially, don't reinvent the wheel but modify the process on how the technology functions. If you still have needs that are not supported by the technology, evaluate how important that need is. If it is really important than you can customize the solution to support the specific need. 


The solutions we mentioned are very flexible with look and feel and content management. Keep your brand fresh and update original content regularly. That capability should be a part of your solution. There is no need for your site to be static bi-annually. 

Managing Alumni Data 

Your SaaS solution is flexible to integrate with your internal systems, HRIS, CRM, and other existing platforms. This means access to greater abilities for data, segmentation and ultimately supporting internal customers. 


Content management and message capabilities are commonplace in a powerful SaaS solution used to support corporate alumni. Dynamic event management, RSVP, and event reporting capabilities are also critical functions to minimize administrative costs and increase frequency with alumni engagement. Bringing together content, like career advice or CSR opportunities, even mentoring programs, are all techniques used to engage different groups of your alumni community. They're all online features too. 

Report on Results and ROI 

The only way any program survives in the corporate world today is if the program leaders have access to data that can build continuous business case and demonstrate return on investment (ROI) for senior leadership. The ability to access and segment, generate reports serve internal clients and identify current and future trends across such a vast amount of data is a key component. 

The next time you create an event on Facebook and invite fifty people to it, just remember how nice it is to not lick all those stamps and make all those telephone calls. If you're considering investing in your corporate alumni technology, understand the solutions today are very specialized for this specific niche and most likely will get your program to a world class level if you leverage the technology successfully. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Value of Mentoring to Leading Organizations

How do organizations that aspire to be the best employer actually know they are? Being listed on Fortune 100's Best Places to Work or Stonewall's UK Workplace Equality Index helps identify employers who are meeting and exceeding standards for best practices. In addition it also identifies to other employers what they are, or not doing, to stand out from the pack. 

Mentoring as a factor for greatness 

China Gorman, CEO of Best Places to Work, says, "[the] best companies are figuring how to engage top performers by helping them map their career paths and develop desired knowledge and skills." Junior employees recognize that a mentoring program provides them an opportunity to step away from their current role and desk to experience how more knowledgeable employees excelled in their careers. Junior employees begin to learn from the best. Mentoring can be so strategic that it solidifies talent retention by manifesting loyalty and value in employees who are successfully matched with experienced mentors. 

The UK's charity organization for LGBT visibility and human rights, Stonewall, has a similar list. Known as the Workplace Equality Index, each organizations submission is challenged by the criteria's index and placed depending on supporting evidence. Of the criteria there are several points that are similar with Fortune 100's: all-staff engagement (employee engagement), career development, and employee training. It portrays how mentoring helps in a variety of ways - not just for employees as a whole but also for diversity and inclusion for the minority. 

Mentoring is a common variable in the world's leading organizations. Whether this is for diversity, or for leadership development, or employee engagement and training, mentoring programs are here to stay - and growing in importance. 

Insala's mentoring benchmark survey reports consistently that 98 percent of executives support mentoring initiatives in their organization. The narrative to this support goes like this: executives have been mentored formally or informally in their career; they understand the value personally and the impact that it can have for all employees. 

The key to success amongst leading organizations is sustainability as they broaden their mentoring programs to larger audiences. Matching and pairing for success, training mentors and mentees and management reporting are all critical components to achieve sustainability for mentoring programs. It is increasingly understood that the only way to administer these long-term, successful mentoring programs is by the use of mentoring technology. 

So if your wondering how to be the best employer you can be, consider starting with an engagement strategy that includes all employees: start a mentoring program.