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Associate Mentoring Program: 5 Years and GROWing

By Cindy Nevarez, Organizational Learning Manager

clock July 13, 2015 at 10:00 AM

In 2010, Barney & Barney launched GROW, a women’s initiative which stands for Growth in Relationships & Opportunities for Women. Designed to address the historically male-dominated culture of the insurance industry, GROW aims to provide tools and resources to support women in the workplace and increase the number of women in leadership roles. In its inaugural year, GROW developed the mentoring program, pairing individuals in leadership with female associates aspiring to advance their careers through professional development.

At its core, the GROW Associate Mentoring Program was created to:

  • Provide career enhancement through increased self-awareness, improved communication skills and a broadened understanding of the organization as a whole
  • Provide a forum to exchange ideas and increase understanding of the different organizational divisions and specializations
  • Develop leadership and decision-making skills
  • Motivate and engage participants in order to increase job performance and satisfaction

Mentor_Photo3Lasting Results

In its fifth year, the program has produced significant results, providing mentoring opportunities for associates at various stages of their career. Both mentors and mentees report learning from one another and developing skills from the supportive relationships, with 84% of pairs having met their individual goals during the span of the program in 2014.  The confidential nature of the relationship gives associates an opportunity to voice their concerns, overcome hurdles, and find solutions, resulting in refined interpersonal and professional skills and increased confidence.  Pairing has been extremely successful, with 98% of last year’s participants continuing their mentoring relationship after the program ended.

One of the 2014 mentees, Daniela Posada, describes the benefits of the relationship she has built with her mentor, Principal Shawn Pynes:


I unfortunately didn’t know Shawn Pynes very well before the program, but he quickly made our meetings a comfortable environment by being open, honest, and keeping my best interests in mind. Shawn has helped me tremendously in a professional and personal capacity by connecting me with people inside and outside of our organization. The program has been mutually beneficial for the both of us as I believe he has learned a lot from me as well, which was a pleasant surprise!

Our program cycle ended over eight months ago, but we still meet monthly and plan to continue our routine. Even though he is extremely busy, he puts in the time to focus solely on the development of our mentorship, which speaks volumes.

How Our Program Works

  • Interested mentors are identified based on experience, tenure and organizational level
  • Interested mentees complete and submit an application to the mentoring committee
  • Mentors and mentees are paired through an interview and ranking process
  • Mentors and mentees meet on a regular schedule, usually 1-2 times per month over the 6-month program period
  • Each mentoring relationship is mutually designed to meet the unique goals and personalities of the mentor and mentee
  • Mentors and mentees attend a graduation event at the end of the program to share successes

Since its launch, the GROW Mentoring Program has proven to be a powerful tool in not only increasing associate engagement and career growth, but it has also been effective in keeping leadership engaged and active in the professional development of the firm as a whole. The GROW Mentoring Program helps Barney & Barney develop and retain our talented professionals and is a key differentiator for us as we recruit new talent. Participation in the program has nearly doubled each year, with a record number of 54 mentor/mentee pairs in 2015 and 133 total pairings to date. While the energy and enthusiasm of the mentees drives the program, it is the willingness of the mentors to share expertise and encourage individual development that makes the program so unique.  

Companies interested in engaging their associates across all levels of the organization through a mentoring program are encouraged to visit the following links or contact Cindy Nevarez, Organizational Learning Director at Barney & Barney and GROW Mentoring Program Chair.

How to Start a High-Impact Mentoring Program

How to Start a Mentoring Program

Implementing an Internal Employee Mentoring Program

Topics: Inside B&B, G.R.O.W.

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