When I began working for Steve Costello in 2004, I had women come in and ask me for professional advice. I was a little overwhelmed since I was just returning to the industry after an 18-year sabbatical!! Realizing I didn’t have all the answers, I sought to provide a forum for our young women to ask those tough questions of other, more experienced women in the industry.
To provide mentorship to our female engineers, Costello began monthly “book club” meetings, not only for our engineers but for others in the professional world and, yes, for our competitors! The group began five years ago and our first “read” was Lean In. What a great read for career women. Not every part is applicable for all, but there are SO many takeaways, it’s simply a “must read”. In fact, I truly believe every man should read it, too!
The group meets at lunch on the first Monday each month. Costello hosts the lunch and the conversation is always great. Sometimes we have 10-12, sometimes as many as 20! We’ve read several books and discussed numerous articles and Ted Talks. The rule of the group is – you can choose the book/article/Ted Talk if you’re willing to lead the discussion!
It’s been a joy to get to meet so many women in our industry and to hear their concerns and advice to each other. The age group is varied, which is perfect as we have both mentors and mentees. I’m proud to be associated with the group, and proud of my partners for allowing DéKecha and me to host the gathering each month. If you are a leader in your organization, I encourage you to start your own mentorship program focused on empowering your professional women.
Nearly 40 years ago, my boss asked me if I wanted to be a mom or a partner in the firm. I was angry and astounded. It has stuck with me all these years and now, as I look forward to retirement, I’m happy to report that the question is truly absurd! Thanks to all the strong women that have gone before, and to all the Cheryl Sandbergs of today!