As part of the FEMBA program, students are able to schedule one-on-one mentoring sessions with Sue Baumgarten, an Executive-in-Residence at UCLA Anderson. As discussed in our previous blog, having a mentor can open the door to many opportunities for students. Since we know this is so important, the Easton Center has partnered with the FEMBA program to offer mentoring with Sue Baumgarten to Easton Students as well. Please read on to get a better idea of these sessions and whether or not it’s right for you.
- Please provide some background information about yourself.
I am a three-time alum of UCLA – I have a Bachelors in Math and Biochemistry, a Masters in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA. I focused on finance and marketing while pursuing my MBA. My Career was all at Hughes Aircraft and Raytheon (they merged in 90s) and I had a variety of different jobs in the company because I was passionate about moving around and expanding my knowledge base and network. I started as an Electrical Engineering in Radar systems leading groups of engineers; I worked on marketing, strategy, and business leadership and ran international parts of the company and was involved in the services business. So I had a breadth of experience in the same company.
I engaged with UCLA about 8 years ago because I felt that my experiences as a technical leader and network builder would be relevant to students and wanted to give back to the UCLA community. I am also on the UCLA Foundations Board and chair its Philanthropy Committee, the Physical Sciences Board of Advisors, and a past chair of Women & Philanthropy. You can say I’m pretty passionate about UCLA.
- How did you begin mentoring students at UCLA Anderson? How long have you been doing it?
I was approached by UCLA, I was friends with Dean Olian before she came to UCLA through Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Conferences. I reconnected with her and when the FEMBA program was looking for Executives in Residence Judy recommended me from the tech perspective. I’ve been mentoring for about 8 years.
- What topics do students usually discuss with you?
There’s a broad range of topics, I am open to anything students want to talk about, relative to providing perspective on the real world of working. I am a counterpoint or enhancement to academic learning to get the real world perspective, from my experience and from the people I’ve spoken to outside of UCLA as well. During mentoring sessions, we talk about how to get ahead in a company, how to become a leader in a company, about the skills associated with being a leader, navigating politics and getting ahead as a leader, and more. People bring questions as specific as having difficulty motivating a team/coworker, or considering a career change and what would be the right job for them going forward considering their interests. Some people don’t have a clue what they’re looking for, so we try to think about motivators and impact, etc. The most effective student discussions relate to the specifics on how to function in the working world and how that student fits in there.
It’s really important for students to realize that this benefit would have an even greater value if they did their homework ahead of time – thinking about what to ask, their concerns, etc. It’s more effective if students come in more prepared and focused. Each mentoring session is 45 minutes to an hour, and sometimes I see people who want to follow up 6 months later. I do my best to accommodate the students that want to meet with me. The repeat students just show that there is a true benefit here to students, this isn’t just a box to check off.
- If you had to share one piece of advice to all Anderson students, what would it be?
Use your Anderson time to grow and learn but also to learn about who you are, what are your skills and interests, your style in dealing with other people. The other thing is to remember that success depends to a great extent in understanding the value system you work in, to understand the values of the other people around you and how to facilitate your own goals in the context of the people around you.
I love doing this because students have told me it’s a great benefit to them but I also learn a tremendous amount from them, and ultimately I enjoy doing it because of that.