Sometimes being a good mentor means you have to be frank. That’s what Georgia-Pacific Foundation President Curley Dossman did when one of his own mentees needed a strong push to pursue their true passion. It turned out to be a successful move, and the experience taught Dossman the value of making tough decisions in the name of helping people.
Dossman shared this and other mentoring tips last month as a co-host of a #STEMentor Chat, one of the many ways he’s committed to making a difference. The discussion served an important need within the African American community, enabling STEM professionals to explore what makes a great mentor, and why it’s important for African Americans to be encouraged to enter into STEM fields.
It’s a topic that hits home for Dossman, whose experience as a mentor spans over his 20 years at Georgia-Pacific and through his role as chairman of the board of directors of 100 Black Men of America.
“Mentoring has two-way benefits. I have personally found each interaction to be a rewarding opportunity to engage with someone while coaching them to realize their full potential,” said Dossman. “In return, my mentees have given me the spark needed to help me re-energize and evolve my own way of thinking.”
During the Twitter chat, held in partnership with the National Society of Black Engineers, participants explored the important roles played by mentors and mentees, and the value of mentoring for everyone involved. Dossman believes professionals should take advantage of multiple opportunities to provide guidance to youth.
“Simply put, there aren’t enough African Americans in STEM fields – or in mentor/mentee relationships, either,” said Dossman. “To that end, I have personally coordinated several ‘STEMentorships,’ to counteract this disparity.”
Through mentorships and other efforts, Georgia-Pacific supports a diverse workforce which is critical to the future growth of the STEM pipeline and contributes to continued innovation.