At the end of August 2009, Sun Labs published a technical report about Sun Microsystems’ mentoring programs: “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009”, by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot, and Helen Gracon, that is available free.
This week, I was very pleased to learn that there have already been 314 downloads, a best seller by technical report standards. OK, the report is free and 314 is hardly the tens of millions of books Dan Brown can sell writing about cryptography, symbols, and conspiracy theories; however, it is a solid and satisfying start. 314 downloads is in addition to the 90 paper reports we handed out from Sun’s table at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC09) earlier this month. After so much effort, I am glad to know that someone is actually reading it (or downloading it, anyway). Hooray!
Sun Microsystems has benefited from a long-term successful culture of mentoring, especially in its worldwide engineering divisions. About 7,300 mentoring pairs have participated in one of Sun’s formal mentoring programs since 1996. Sun has developed several internal formal world-wide mentoring programs in which mentoring pairs focus on a business problem or goal of the mentee. To create this report, the authors analyzed Sun’s 1996-2009 mentoring program data, Sun-wide data, plus information from a Gartner report on Sun mentoring which focused on the ROI of Sun’s mentoring programs.
Mentoring is near the top of most lists of tools that are effective at promoting professional development and advancement in industry. As a business method, mentoring works well generally and also is particularly valuable to women and minorities.
Mentoring has paid off for Sun in increased productivity, efficiency, and greater satisfaction among participants. This report presents what Sun did and how Sun did it to allow others to take advantage of the company’s extensive and successful experience with this remarkably effective and versatile business method. So far as is known, this report is unique: no other company has published a long-term detailed analysis about its corporate mentoring program.
Helen generously took Tanya and me out to the new and impressive Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel for lunch to celebrate our publication and so that we could all sign report copies to give with thanks to our program sponsors. The pink drink in the picture is the Madera restaurant’s “House Made Prickly Pear Lemonade” – very pretty and refreshing!
Images Copyright 2009 by Katy Dickinson
Originally published: 16 October 2009
Key Links Updated: 8 April 2016