Dawn Reddish, business analyst in HQ’s IT Directorate, recently won the IT Directorate’s annual Innovation Tank award for her proposal to create a peer-based mentoring program.
Much like entrepreneurs on TV’s “Shark Tank,” Reddish and other finalists, Mail Server Administrator Michael Fox and Applications Developer John Potter, pitched their ideas to “sharks” July 24 at Exchange headquarters.
The “sharks” were Chad Lucas, vice president of digital strategy integration and architecture; Danny Starnes, vice president of the infrastructure tech division; and Debra Zarsk, vice president of enterprise business solutions.
Now in its third year, the Innovation Tank celebrates the best ideas from IT associates around the world.
This year, more than 80 IT associates vied for a monetary Thanks award and a chance to have their idea implemented. IT managers narrowed the field to three finalists: Reddish; Fox, whose proposal would fight phishers; and Potter, who sought to make log-in information for new associates available much sooner.
Reddish, Fox and Potter were given six weeks to produce projects and videos. About 200 IT associates in the Innovation Tank audience voted for their favorite projects, and Reddish won.
(Watch her video here.)
The initial idea for an ambassadorship came from Reddish, but IT’s Melissa Clark and the Merchandising Directorate’s John Dunn helped her plan the program and lay the foundation.
Reddish, Clark and Dunn will start the ambassador program soon for HQ associates in pay bands 4 and below who may want to move into IT jobs. A mentoring program is especially needed for IT because 70% of directorate associates will become eligible to retire in at least three years, Reddish said.
“However, we don’t want to stop there,” she said. “We want to ensure that IT associates also understand what all the entire Exchange offers. Doing this will hopefully be a solution preventing other departments from having mass retirements and all that knowledge going out the door.
“Learning from each other and using each other’s strengths regardless of their department will move us to a collaboratively working company.”
Reddish, Clark and Dunn will identify five coaches within IT and five associates at HQ who want mentoring. Participants will spend two hours a week with a coach, rotating each week to ensure that they meet with all of them.
Her idea of peer-to-peer ambassadorship took root after a co-worker felt stuck in her role and wanted to move into business analytics. However, the associate struggled with finding people with the right information and began looking for opportunities at other companies.
Reddish mentored her, providing that roadmap to one day move into her dream Exchange job.
“She now has a new sense of hope at the Exchange,” Reddish said. “She now sees a path for her career.”