BRR is invested in the growth and development of our team members and we are consistently looking for innovative ways to bring new opportunities to the firm. Research has shown that mentorship plays a key role in the development of well-rounded individuals and our founders learned from personal experience the many benefits of a good mentor throughout their careers. For those reasons, BRR launched the Bridge Mentorship Program to provide a level of connection and understanding amongst team members regardless of their area of expertise or years of experience. Plus, this gave the firm an opportunity to connect team members across all 11 national offices and foster relationships across the country.
As we wrap up our fifth year of the Bridge Mentorship Program, we conducted a series of interviews with both mentors and mentees to gather feedback on their experience. Several common themes emerged from those interviews. Look at some of the top benefits our participants received from the program.
Several individuals commented on the fact this was a unique opportunity which had not been available at previous companies they’d been part of. “I really like that BRR organizes [the Bridge Mentorship Program] for their employees – I’ve bounced between a few firms and it’s more unique than you might think to have such a support system for mentorship.” — Brandon Lewis, Kansas City Office.
Participants were excited for the opportunity to build connections with coworkers whom they may not work with daily. “Having someone outside of our team to talk to on a different level is one more source to get information or tools from. A different set of eyes and ears to get suggestions.” — Caron Rowlen, Kansas City Office. Some participants were paired with a mentor or mentee located in a different national office which really opened them up to new ideas and insights from across the country. “I’ve liked learning new things and getting different perspectives on items, like testing questions or architectural details on projects. It’s nice to get someone outside of [my office] because people have different perspectives or a way of going about things.” — Elizabeth Bass, Los Angeles Office.
Many shared that it was easier to build these connections since mentors and mentees were paired up by the Bridge Mentorship committee. Mentees noted it was beneficial to have an “assigned” person to talk to about ARE testing questions or to help them through challenges on a project. Participants shared how nice it was to have a person to bounce ideas off and get advice from, as well as guide them through career and professional development questions.
Many mentors noted the satisfaction they felt from helping their mentees through a challenge. Hearing that some advice helped them solve a challenge in a project or a study tip really paid off on an exam was a positive experience for the mentor. They also mentioned how rewarding it was to hear their mentees’ progress on a goal they had and seeing them grow over the nine-month program. “The program has allowed me to get to know my mentee on a more personal as well as a business level and offer advice and help in areas that I may have more experience in as well as get a fresh perspective, so [the Bridge Mentorship program] has been a good experience.” — Joyce Landwehr, Dallas Office.
Although some folks needed encouragement to sign up for the Bridge Mentorship Program, nearly everyone who did participate found it to be a very positive experience. There were many repeat mentors and mentees who mentioned how nice it is to participate each year and get a different experience. One of the top takeaways from the interviews was how much the group enjoyed getting to know others on not just a professional level, but a personal level as well. Mentors and mentees were catching up with each other’s personal lives and dealing with questions or challenges that were not necessarily work-related. “I like the surprises and spontaneous comments that come out of it and learning about things that you wouldn’t have thought about asking in the first place.” – Chris Curtis, Austin Office.
This connection on a deeper level cemented many friendships throughout the program. Many individuals expressed how they plan to continue the relationship with their mentor/mentee into the future even after the formal program has wrapped.
Overall, the committee responsible for this program here at BRR was extremely pleased with the results of these interviews. They strive to improve this program year over year and it’s crucial to get relevant feedback from real-life participants. This program continues to be successful and BRR is proud to offer it amongst many other professional development opportunities at the firm.
About the authors:
Mary Beth Gregory, AIA, Associate, graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. Mary Beth helps lead the Philadelphia team and is a Project Manager for one of the firm’s retail clients, which includes multi project site adaptations. She has been with BRR since 2012 and has worked on multiple retail and grocery clients in several regional offices, managing different regions across the country with experience in all phases of the design process. Email her.
Scott Brown, AIA, LEED AP, Associate graduated from Lawrence Technological University with a Master of Architecture degree. Scott helps lead a studio of more than 25 team members working on retail remodel projects throughout the country. In addition to being a leader on his team, Scott has been a key voice in enhancing the programs and support BRR offers to professional staff pursuing licensure. He has also been a mentor to multiple team members going through the ARE process. Email him.