Speed mentoring: Advice in 15 minutes

Does mentoring always require a significant time commitment?

The answer appears to be no, if you consider the speed mentoring sessions organized recently by the Federal Acquisition Fellows Coalition, an interagency group led by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Interior Department.

At the General Services Administration Expo in May, the coalition held four mentoring sessions that lasted 15 minutes each. About 85 mentors and mentees participated, said Joanie Newhart, OFPP’s associate administrator for acquisition workforce programs.

“In order to get the most out of the sessions, we encouraged participants to come prepared by providing information guides that explained everyone’s roles and the ground rules and also encouraged people to come prepared with specific questions,” Newhart said. “These targeted communication sessions can focus participants’ attention on key areas of discussion or interest and also provide the mentee a variety of viewpoints to consider.”

Senior officials, including GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, took part in the speed mentoring, giving feds access to leaders they wouldn’t normally interact with on an individual basis.

Steve Kempf, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, also participated in the sessions. He said he met with a federal employee who came to the expo because of the speed mentoring opportunity. This particular fed, who doesn’t work at GSA, shared his aspirations and asked Kempf how he reached the top slot at FAS. They also exchanged business cards.

Kempf said he believes it’s important to provide people with a sounding board for ideas. “Everybody in their career is working in a nonstop learning environment,” he said. “We look at people at FAS as one of our greatest assets.… Spending time and helping them with their careers enrich their experience of working here, [and] they’ll be excited to come to work each day.”

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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