Making time for mentorship: An interview with Rasa Milasiuniene on her mentorship experience with Nicole Zimmermann
How did you start your career at Western Union?
I joined Western Union almost 10 years ago when they opened the EUROC shared service center in Vilnius, Lithuania. I was the 40th employee hired there; now there are 2000!
What was it like before you did the mentoring?
I was lacking the ability to get an independent view; simply, to talk to a person who understands your situation, understands the business and customer needs and can provide candid feedback to you.
How did you get connected with Nicole as your mentor?
I met Nicole in Vilnius back in 2017, once the WU Way team visited our site. The second time we met was in Costa Rica where I visited my team. The third time was in London back in 2018 which was historical, as I had simply approached Nicole and kindly asked for her to become my mentor. Nicole was a perfect candidate, as I was seeking a female mentor, someone not from my town, not in my function (Operations, at that time), and was in a higher position. Oh yes, the list of requirements was quite long….
What was the biggest challenge you were facing?
There was not a specific challenge or problem that I was facing; I simply valued a diversity of opinions, different perspectives, and the ability to ask advice to a woman who works in a similar male-dominated work environment and can understand you in a few words. Most probably lack of confidence. You kind of know what or how to do things, but not sure due to some reasons. It’s a very common situation for women, and I was not an exception.
What are the three main things you learned/achieved through this mentorship?
A lot has happened since 2018. I have learned a lot of things: a change in my position (from Western Union Business Solutions Operations I moved to Finance), but to be more specific, I would highlight various problem-solving techniques: building a good relationship in a very dynamic and sometimes competitive work environment and lastly the Women@WU activities. Nicole and I are Advisory Board members of the Women@WU initiative.
Do you think you would have had the same experience with a male leader? If not, why?
Nicole is the only mentor I have ever had, and I cannot compare with what I have never experienced. Success is not driven by gender (male or female), it’s all about having a good mentor-mentee relationship. The same as with our subordinates. Sometimes there is a great understanding from the very beginning, sometimes you cannot achieve this no matter how hard you have tried.
What would you say to someone considering mentoring?
It’s all about you and your Leadership. Go for it, do not wait until tomorrow, next month, or until someone assigns you a mentor. You own your development, no one else.
What do you think other people should know about Nicole or her style?
Nicole is a great listener and advisor. She asks the right questions and while you speak, you usually find an answer yourself. This makes you even more satisfied with the result, process and partnership you have with your mentor.
How has this changed you/ what difference has it made to you?
Knowledge and confidence go together. There isn’t one without the other. Only successful people can train another person to be successful. Thanks, Nicole, for your time and invaluable advice. Simply, you know what success looks like!
How has mentoring fueled your career at WU?
I tend to believe that I’m a better leader and person, not afraid of changes and challenges, dedicating time to Women@WU and having my own mentees. Lead by example ?