Mentoring Matters

February 2017

“Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?” is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked in an interview or performance review.  Sure, I can tap dance with the best of them:

  • I’d like to continue over-achieving my goals and eventually work in a management position.
  • I’d want to leverage my team building and leadership skills to step into a training / coaching role for new hires.
  • I plan to secure my PMP certification and continue to expand my project management skill set.

Sounds good on paper, heck it’s even true.  But not deeply honest.  Truth be told, I’ve always gone where the opportunities at hand have taken me.  I’ve done well;  no regrets.  But there have been many times when I’ve felt stuck:  choosing a major, deciding on an industry or like now figuring out how to architect a “second act” career to enrich my retirement years.

Browsing an airport bookstore the other day, I stumbled on a book title and concept which caught my attention:  “Designing Your Life;  How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life”.   Written by two Stanford professors, this book describes how to approach the “5 years from now” question with a design approach using curiosity and creativity.

A wise friend told me, you can’t steer a car that isn’t moving.  These authors take the same view and offer concrete strategies on how to use

        Curiosity

        Bias to Action

        Reframing

        Awareness

        And Radical Collaboration to design and achieve your best life.

Mentoring plays a special role in Radical Collaboration. Once you’ve clarified the vision for your destination, mentors can make a particularly valuable contribution to your discernment process when it’s time to make choices.  Important decisions are seldom easy.   Your life design effort will be greatly enhanced if you’ve got a few mentors on your team.

For more information the PMI Portland Chapter mentoring program, please contact mentoring@pmi-portland.org

Interested in a Book Club on Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans?   Call Lynnda at 503.998.7482.

Lynnda Sorensen, Assistant Director Mentoring

January 2017

We’ve all engaged in some sort of mentoring process.   It  probably wasn’t called Mentoring. It might have been called parenting or coaching or teaching. Early life is full of teacher / learner relationships.

But what about adult life?  Is there a point when we no longer need a coach?

The process of mentoring predates the definition.   It’s intrinsic.  We are hard-wired to engage in teaching / learning relationships to a point.   It feels reflexive to reach out with a cheery smile to a baby taking its first steps.  Young children naturally look to the people in their life for support and guidance. However, having parented a teenager, I know first hand that openness to coaching isn’t permanent.

“The Conscious Competence Ladder” developed by Noel Burch of  Gordon Training International points to Unconscious Incompetence as the root cause of abandoning a protégée role.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  And in today’s increasingly complex and fast changing world, there is a lot we don’t know.

At a recent dinner part, I posed a question to the table.  Have you ever had a mentor or been a mentor?  The neurosurgeon responded without hesitation; yes, my first partner was an invaluable teacher early in my surgical career.  And around the table, those who had thrived in their professional lives warmly recalled people who had helped them along the way and those they had helped.   

I’ve seen firsthand over the course of my career speedy advancement of a handful of people who actively sought out mentors to help them navigate to the next level in their careers.   Think about people you’ve known who have leapfrogged to success faster than their peers.    Who were their mentors?  If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

Find out more about PMI Portland Chapters mentoring program at http://www.pmi-portland.org/resources/mentoring-program.

Lynnda Sorensen, Assistant Director Mentoring

December 2016

We are now in the third month of the PMI Portland Chapter Mentoring Program’s second session since the program re-launch last year!

It seems like it was only yesterday when we had the kickoff to introduce the mentors and mentees to each other.  We received 20 mentor and 22 mentee applications by that day – September 29, 2016.  There have been a few changes in numbers and other areas since then and we will keep you (members and newsletter readers) informed of those changes throughout the session.

Here are some changes we would like to share right now:

  • First, Tina Murrain has moved from the Director of Mentoring role to that of mentor.  When the program was re-launched last year, she applied to be a mentor, but gracefully accepted the position of Assistant Director of Mentoring when it was offered to her.  She was later promoted to Mentoring Director. This year, after helping to kick off the second session, she applied to be a mentor again.  As you can see, Tina's story in the Mentoring Program has come full circle.
  • Second, Sheldon (Shel) Philips is the new Director of Mentoring.  In a sense, he switched places with Tina.  Shel was one of the first to apply to be a mentor in our initial session last year. The twist is that he plays a dual role in the Program as he continues to be a mentor in the current session as well. Shel has many exciting plans for the Program, some of which he has already announced. Many of you already know Shel or may have met him at a Chapter meeting where he is a familiar face. 
  • Finally, the latest member of the Mentoring Administration team to come on board is Lynnda Sorensen, Assistant Director of Mentoring.  While she is new to the Program, she is not new to the Chapter.  What she has in common with Tina, Shel, me and all the mentors who volunteer for this Program is a passion for people and their success. Lynnda too has many ideas for improving the experience of PMI PDX mentors and mentees.

We welcome Tina, Shel and Lynnda in their new roles.  We also thank them and all our mentors and mentees without whom there would be no Mentoring Program.

Best wishes for a happy and peaceful Holiday season!

November 2016

Each of you has experienced the mentoring process from a parent, grandparent, favorite aunt or uncle, or even in the process of coaching and guiding your own children.  Mentoring is a great mechanism needed for the health and reproduction of thriving organisms and organizations. The leadership of the PMI Portland Chapter recognizes the need for the reinforcement and growth of the project management profession and so has provided a vehicle to foster the mentoring process – The PMI Portland Mentoring Program.

Formal mentoring in the chapter has made several somewhat successful attempts at creating a self-perpetuating mechanism or program.  The deficiency of perpetuity hasn’t been for lack of skilled mentors, leadership, or even supporting resources.  It’s possible that we as a professional community have not placed enough priority or importance on the effect of mentoring.

We had a gathering the other night of the leadership of the PMI Portland Chapter at which Jimmy Godard, our current chapter president, used one of our favorite acronyms RACI and applied a new meaning to each letter.  For R he chose Retain.  One of the goals of PMI Global is to keep members engaged in the organization; retain them.  Jimmy chose the word Acquire for the letter A.  Jimmy plans for us to acquire new members this year to grow the Portland Chapter.  Jimmy’s C?  Connect.  Jimmy hopes for our club to connect, with each other in the Chapter, with the business community, with our families, and with the project management profession.  Finally, but not least important Innovate.  It is Jimmy’s vision that the PMI Portland Chapter will become even more innovative in how we accomplish the chapter’s goals.

Mentoring captures all of these ideas.  Mentoring relationships certainly help us to retain and connect.  A thriving mentoring program will help us acquire new mentors and mentees as well.  The challenge facing the Mentoring Program leadership is to become more innovative in our work to care for, promote, and grow the program.

This session is off to a good start.  We have a returning core of six qualified and caring mentors from the session just ended rounding out our mentor team of nineteen.  We have assigned twenty mentees and have a waiting list of additional mentees who see the value of our mentoring program / process.  The session will last for six months with each pair meeting at least once per month.  We’re excited at the heart and enthusiasm shown by our mentoring corp.  We will keep apprised of our progress; both successes and lessons learned as we go. 

Mentoring is a necessity for a thriving organization.  Thank you for your support of the program.  Just remember, there is always room for you.

Director of Mentoring


May 2016

The Chapter Mentoring Program is one of our most important human resource assets.  The mentors stand up as a community of helping hands to members and non-members alike who are eager to troubleshoot problems in their careers, get feedback about specific areas of growth, and work through transitions. 

As reported in this newsletter last month, “Overall satisfaction of the mentoring program experience received an average rating of 4.24 while the communication between mentoring partners meeting their expectations and needs was slightly higher at 4.28.  We are pleased with the results for this first session of the newly re‐launched mentoring program and are actively working on ideas to continually improve the experience for everyone.”

As we look forward to enriching the mentoring program through sessions on mentoring, coaching, and leadership skills, our goal is to continue to strengthen this community of what many likely identify as servant leaders.  During the upcoming session, we anticipate having dine and learn events for volunteers who qualify as mentors on topics such as double-loop learning, effective conflict engagement, coaching skills, and mentoring skills.

And, speaking of that upcoming session, watch chapter social media outlets and this newsletter through the summer.  The mentoring leadership team is working hard to launch a new session this summer.  Qualified mentors and new mentees will be welcomed.  You can learn more about the program on the chapter web site at http://pmi-portland.org/resources/mentoring-program

Jean Richardson is the Vice President of Professional Development for the Portland, Oregon Chapter of PMI.  She is also an agile coach and project management professional with more than 25 years’ experience with clients in the Portland metro area. You can follow her on Twitter or link with her on LinkedIn.


A minisurvey was sent out in February to participants in the Portland Chapter Mentoring Program.  12 out of 14 mentors and all of the mentees responded to the 2 question survey.  Questions were rated 1 – 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest.  Overall satisfaction of the mentoring program experience received an average rating of 4.24 while the communication between mentoring partners meeting their expectations and needs was slightly higher at 4.28.  We are pleased with the results for this first session of the newly relaunched mentoring program and are actively working on ideas to continually improve the experience for everyone.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions or you would like more information on the PMI Portland Chapter Mentoring program, please visit http://pmi-portland.org/resources/mentoring-program.


The current PMI Portland Mentoring program was re-launched in 2015 with a great deal of enthusiasm, effort and interest.

The program was advertised at the Chapter Annual Conference in September 2015, followed by newsletter articles, newsblasts and a dedicated web-page.  Over thirty applications were received and mentoring pairs were assigned.

The kick-off meeting for the first session was held in December, 2015, at the Amadeus Manor in Milwaukie where the partners met each other for the first time.  Present at that meeting were Jean Richardson, Vice President of Professional Development, Valerie D'Sa-Mayer, then Director of Mentoring, Tina Murrain, then Assistant Director of Mentoring, and most of the program participants.

Since the start of the program, we have had several changes.  Sadly, we lost one of our mentors, John Hensler, who passed away early in the session. John will be missed not only by his mentee, but all of us in the program who had the good fortune to talk with him and get to know him.

In January this year, Valerie moved into her new role, Asst. VP of Prof. Development (Events & Mentoring) and Tina took over as Director of Mentoring.

A few participants left the program or were re-assigned for various reasons. We started the program with seventeen mentors and sixteen mentees.  As of today, that number stands at fourteen mentors and fourteen mentees.

A table dedicated to the program is set up at chapter meetings in the dining area. Participants gather at this table to meet as well as to update the program administrators on their partnerships. Status reports are also sent by participants via e-mail and/or phone calls to the Director.

A mini-survey was sent in February to gauge participants’ satisfaction with the mentoring program and partnerships. A brief summary of the results will be announced in the next newsletter.

If you have questions, suggestions, and/or would like more information on the PMI Portland Mentoring program, please visit http://www.pmi-portland.org/resources/mentoring-program.

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