Life @ Schneider Blog

#SEGreatPeople | India Gibson: How Mentors Give Me Wings

Written by India Gibson

I’ve been with Schneider Electric for three years and may have one of the best sounding titles of any job ever. I am a Scrum Master for the Titan Transformation Program. I know, it sounds pretty awesome, and I wasn’t even sure what it meant at first either but scrum is a type of project management that emphasizes teamwork, accountability, and progress towards a well-defined objective. It’s actually named for a rugby formation where players push forward with their arms interlocked and their heads down towards their goal. This concept applies to my role, which entails removing any impediments for my team and communicating issues to our program management office. Long story short, I ensure our team remains on task.

As Scrum Master I get the opportunity to lead a few teams towards fulfilling our objectives. I am proud to be a part of Titan, which is a digital transformation initiative lead by our business owners. I work with many colleagues and leaders within our different divisions, and it was an honor to have been promoted within three months to the position of Scrum Master.

It’s been an exciting journey. It all began when I joined Schneider Electric’s Sales Development Program. I realized the development program offered a unique chance to immerse myself in the company and learn in-depth about the different career options and opportunities they provided, as well as about each division’s focus and activities. Because Schneider Electric is a global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, they wanted us to be exposed to the many aspects and career path possibilities that exist within the company.

Learn more about career opportunities with Schneider Electric.

For three months, I was fortunate to be able to interact and network with others who had been at the company for quite a while. But at first, I was pretty intimidated about joining and working alongside colleagues who had been here for nearly 30 years. Schneider Electric did an excellent job, though, of making me feel like I could be at home working here as we learned more about what the company offered and its culture. I appreciated that I was in the development program with people from all over the country with different backgrounds and levels of experience. To be in a classroom with recent graduates like that made me feel connected and part of the crew.

 

Support when you most need it

We received electrical safety training and toured manufacturing plants, though the program wasn’t limited to engineers. More importantly, the company wanted to instill leadership skills and confidence in all of us, and encouraged us to network both professionally and socially. They understood the power of developing those professional relationships with more experienced employees, many of whom would become mentors to us over time.

Right off the bat I found a confidant in Stanley McGrady, the manager of Sales Development Program at that time. He empowered and encouraged me to try a direction I may not have chosen for myself. Stanley was, and still is, very influential in my journey and has continued to be my mentor to this day.

Having professional mentorships has proven to be invaluable. Entering a new workplace can be daunting, but Schneider Electric offered a unique opportunity for someone diverse like me to understand how we could fit into the company. Seeing diversity represented at a senior level and in a mentor meant so much to me. I discovered that the company’s values actually aligned well with mine, and that this was a culture that I could fit into quite comfortably. Diversity and inclusion played a major role in the development program, allowing me to always feel safe, included and respected.

 

Guidance at critical moments along the way

I think one of the biggest challenges in determining a career path is understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are. That’s where having a mentor makes all the difference in how you move forward and see yourself.  It’s like having a guide or a guru – they can see your strong points and areas requiring improvements that you can’t always see yourself. A great mentor can also see where you might be able to excel. Throughout my journey I’ve met several people who have mentored me, and because of that I was able to make decisions that have propelled me into opportunities where I’ve gotten recognition and promotions. In fact, I now have mentors from different areas of the company that focus on many aspects of my professional learning and development.

Venturing down new paths

Through the development program I was able to integrate and immerse myself in areas I would not have been exposed to otherwise. Stanley, my mentor, challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone, and because of his encouragement I have excelled in areas I would never have dreamed possible. Before, I was terribly fearful of public speaking. Now, I stand in front of, speak, and lead meetings of more than 200 people! I am very proud of the skills I’ve developed over the years.

What I love most about Schneider Electric are the opportunities and platforms I’m given to incite change. I feel like I’m heard and empowered when I accomplish my goals. Recently, my team completed our agile planning event to highlight our objectives spanning over the next three months. We coached the team, identified resource gaps, defined objectives, and determined the work we would commit to. It was hard, as we’re continuing to collaborate virtually, but I was very proud of the team’s ability to unite and join forces.

The company supports us in so many other ways, too. Outside of my actual day job, I’m heavily involved in a lot of employee resource groups (ERGs) that allow me to network and engage with people I wouldn’t normally meet, such as our Black Professionals ERG. The group’s goal is to advocate internally and externally for the recruitment, development and retention of Black employees, and promote cultural diversity, encourage intellectual growth and foster systemic change. It’s refreshing to engage with a more diverse group of SE employees who bring new and fresh perspectives to the conversation.

 

Rising to new heights

Schneider Electric does an amazing job of hiring people who empower others.  Look at me – now, I’m a mentor! I speak to the new development program classes and provide the same kind of assistance I so generously received. I want to help others ascend like I’ve been able to. I think that’s pretty unique to Schneider – you don’t find that in many companies.

Right now, I really feel like the sky’s the limit. I think I could go anywhere from here.

 

 

About the Author

India Gibson is a Scrum Master at Schneider Electric for the Titan Transformation team, which focuses on improving the ways we conduct our business by enhancing our employee engagement. She is also the lead Communications and Activity Chair for the Nashville chapter of the company’s Black Professionals employee resource group. India graduated from the University of North Texas in 2017 with a B.S. in Mechanical and Energy Engineering. She is currently located in Nashville, TN and loves to embrace other cultures by traveling and unwinds by tending to her house plants.


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