Taking Professional Development to the Next Level

Building on a strong culture of coaching and mentoring for different levels of staff and our strong entry-level and internship hiring programs in the past, Dewberry has launched a pilot to advance a program for mentor-mentee relationship between entry-level employees and senior leaders in the organization.

The goals of the program are to provide entry-level employees and managers with a new connection and different professional perspective as well as accelerate the development of entry-level employees. The pilot program idea grew out of a partnership between water/wastewater engineer and recent George Mason University graduate Sathya Mathavan, and Dewberry COO Dan Pleasant.

Professional Development

What was your inspiration to volunteer for this partnership?

Dan: I've always been passionate about being directly involved with entry-level staff. I think it’s important for all companies to keep enthusiasm and excitement in their staff at a high level if they want to be successful, and I see a lot of these qualities in our young professionals. It’s often quickly noticeable when I walk into an office with fewer entry-levels versus when I enter an office with more of them; the level of excitement and energy is palpable in an office where the younger staff are engaged.

Sathya: In college, the focus is usually on the technical aspects of the engineering profession. But there are so many other skills and strengths that an engineer needs to develop in order to be successful in his or her career. I think when most people graduate, myself included, we think we will be put into an environment that will foster our technical knowledge and skills, but maybe not necessarily the other skills, such as networking, business development, leadership, management, and other big picture concepts. This mentorship opportunity has given me the perfect chance to do both – develop my technical skills while being exposed to big-picture concepts that then contribute to my development of other necessary skills for my career.

What have you learned from your mentee/mentor?

Dan: Sathya's generation in particular is full of young people brimming with the excitement of learning. They are very comfortable being life-long learners because they grew up in an age of continuously advancing technology and therefore are more comfortable with adapting their routines with the evolving tools. This excitement is infectious and is a good reminder that everyone, including myself, could and should be continuously learning. I’ve come to gain knowledge about new tools like social media and posted my first LinkedIn publication last June. It’s also been an invaluable learning exercise to reflect on Dewberry, the engineering profession, and my career through a new, younger set of eyes.

Sathya has helped me better understand the motivation of our young employees. I’ve learned about how important it is for our new employees to focus on their passions – why building work experiences around their interests helps facilitate a more meaningful experience for them and a better learning environment for us. I've learned that young people like to see the big picture. They want more exposure with the client, more time with other team members. They enjoy understanding the whole project cycle, from writing a proposal, to winning the job, to getting it done.

Sathya: Dan has been an invaluable mentor and resource – introducing me to numerous mid-Atlantic business units and senior managers and advocating for my involvement on different aspects of a project like attending bid openings and interviews, writing proposals, and building meaningful relationships with clients. I am so thankful to be a part of this mentoring relationship with Dan.

Would you recommend this program to other companies or colleagues?

Dan: Definitely. I feel strongly, selfishly, that this experience has expanded my perspective on the next generation of Dewberry professionals. I believe more senior managers should take on the responsibility to mentor at least one person, and from it realize the same benefit I have.

Sathya: Definitely, for a few reasons. First, this program helped me build relationships across departments which helped me better understand Dewberry as a company and all of its capabilities. This has proven to be valuable at networking events when interacting with the client or other firms. Second, I gained experience beyond the typical entry level skills, such as leadership skills, communication, and experience speaking with upper management one-on-one. Lastly, this program allowed me to learn about and be a part of unique opportunities that Dan thought would lead to valuable development for my career.

Dan and Sathya: We’re proud of our mentoring and internship programs at Dewberry, and we believe that continuous improvement in our learning processes will benefit our new employees as well improve our company’s professional growth at all levels. Our experience proved to us that professional growth and development can come from all different experience levels and be extremely valuable while gaining a better understanding of business, communications, management, and networking. We look forward to more partnerships like this growing here at Dewberry.


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  • Dan Pleasant
    Dan Pleasant
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