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Newsletter Week 8

Reverse Mentoring Builds Skills and Connections

What makes a reverse mentoring program a success? We talk with CEOs, leaders and experts to find out.

After Matt Neale, CEO of the public relations firm Golin, moved to the U.S. from London in 2015, he realized there was a lot he needed to learn.

The public relations executive had nearly two decades of experience in the communications industry, but he wanted to bone up on American culture, digital technology and more. Rather than turn to a seasoned consultant or a well-established business coach, he connected with Annelise Campbell, a junior employee less than two years out of college. She was digitally savvy, had fresh perspectives on the business and came from a background vastly different than his own. 

In short: Neale’s ideal tutor. 

“I was looking for someone whose life experience was the opposite of mine,” he says. 

The two met monthly, discussing topics such as diversity, changes in their industry and the music scene. Campbell, now 25 coached Neale, now 45, on how to use Snapchat and helped him make Golin’s internship application process more inclusive. 

“Those meetings were like a shining star on my calendar,” says Neale. “There were moments when there were really big issues often going on in the country and I’d be able to say, ‘I’d really like to get your perspective on this.’”

Five Generations in One Workplace 

Neale reaped the benefits of “reverse mentoring,” which is when a younger staffer coaches a more senior colleague. Jack Welch gave the concept momentum when he implemented it in 1999 while CEO at General Electric. Firms such as PwC, Estee Lauder, Aflac and U.S. Bank have deployed it in an array  of ways since. 

While the practice took root decades ago, it’s “more c...

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