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Point of View: Developing tomorrow's leaders through mentorship today

Lisa Dillon
Lisa Dillon

If you have ever had a mentor, you know how positive and impactful one can be. After the continuous turmoil we have experienced during the past year, we are all looking forward to 2021 with hope for a positive and impactful year. One way experienced leaders can make a difference in the new year is to offer their expertise and knowledge through mentorship to Oklahoma's emerging leaders.

Providing support and mentorship in the workforce is a positive and impactful way to give back to an industry while shepherding the professional development of rising stars. Fueling someone’s career progress provides a sense of accomplishment and connection, not only for the mentee but also for the mentor.

In Oklahoma, there are numerous programs in place to help fill the state’s expanding need for a more extensive workforce pipeline. At Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma, our Retail Store Manager Apprenticeship program, registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, works to pair mentors with apprentice-level practitioners to produce more efficient, confident employees and reinvest in our local communities. Programs like this are vital to the diversity and development of tomorrow's professional leaders.

An added benefit to initiatives such as Goodwill’s apprenticeship program is the human connection that has been lacking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless if you are a rising leader or have decades under your belt, many long to connect with people in person and return to normalcy. Mentorship is an ideal way to connect with emerging individuals seeking advancement while providing a key ingredient for future success for individuals and industries.

The real success of these programs comes after the mentorship is finished and confident professionals have replaced timid beginners. Eric Dixon, an assistant store manager for Goodwill, is a great example. Eric began working for Goodwill in 2019 and has since completed the apprenticeship program and emerged as a more well-rounded professional, leader and mentor himself. With help from Goodwill’s apprenticeship program, Eric gave himself opportunities that before would have been out of his reach.

As Oklahoma continues to battle the pandemic, now is the time to be proactive. It is the time to give back to our community and prepare workforce members to be leaders and mentors themselves. The professional landscape is shifting quickly. As professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that the workforce of the future has the necessary support, training, skills and confidence to succeed.

Dillon is vice president of workforce development for Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma.