Tag Archives: Sun Labs

Expert Mentoring Advice: Best Practices / Worst Practices

7 Best Practices _ Worst Practices

I think this has been the single most popular 1-page mentoring summary I ever published:

“Best Practices / Worst Practices” may have been published in other places as well – please tell me if you see it!
12/27/2014: another reference published by talentmanagement360.com.

To get “Mentoring in a Box” free:

9/16/2015 update: Several of the documents in “Mentoring in a Box” have been updated and are available by Mentoring Standard.


Steven Spielberg

Sara Blakely

“Expert Mentoring Advice: Best Practices / Worst Practices” is adapted from “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009” SMLI TR-2009-18, by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot, and Helen Gracon. Copyright 2009, Sun Microsystems, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unlimited copying without fee is permitted provided that the copies are not made nor distributed for direct commercial advantage, and credit to the source is given.

1 Comment

Filed under Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

3 Mentoring Resources


In preparing to go to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, next week, I have made three mentoring resources available for easy and free download:


Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Building a Community Through Mentoring


In my Katysblog entry yesterday “Sheryl Sandberg, Leaning In on Mentoring“, I included a quote from Ms. Sandberg’s March 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead:

Many companies are starting to move from informal mentoring that relies on individual initiative to more formal programs. When taken seriously, these formal mentorship/sponsorship programs can be remarkably successful.

One of the sometimes-unexpected successes of formal mentoring programs is the development of a strong long-term community of mentors and mentees who have come to know and respect each other through the program.  These communities can continue far beyond the boundaries of the company or program that created them.

Some examples:

  • I have written frequently about the Sun Microsystems mentoring programs participated in by over 7,000 employees from 1996-2009. Over 630 of those who joined my Sun Engineering mentoring program (SEED) chose to join a private LinkedIn group to stay in communication after Sun was purchased by Oracle in 2009. I am sure more continue to work and learn with each other through through professional and private connections.  The initial match between one mentor and one mentee quickly becomes the base for more complex and lasting relationships: the mentor introduces the mentee to associates or recommends him for a position, the mentee becomes a mentor herself and introduces her new mentee to her own mentor, etc.  In 2010-2011, when I was the Process Architect for the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen mentoring program, many of the potential mentors I contacted to join the new program were former Sun mentoring program participants.
  • In July 2011, toward the end of the first TechWomen term, I wrote a Katysblog entry called “37 Sisters – TechWomen“. That feeling of family, of a strong and growing US-MENA-based sisterhood, has only increased since then. The photo above was taken after our Successful Panel at the October, 2012 Grace Hopper Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, when several dozen TechWomen mentors,  mentees, and staff from the 2011 and 2012 terms met to celebrate. Fifty of us gathered again in February 2013 to join the TechWomen delegation to Jordan.  The photo below shows us at Injaz, one of the many schools and programs we visited in Jordan to talk with local girls and young women about STEM, TechWomen, and TechGirls.

The worlds of STEM and the Silicon Valley in particular are small places.  Even though there are over seven million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, after a few years working here, it becomes hard to to go anywhere without meeting folks you know.  Professional trust and connections, such as those built and supported by formal mentoring programs, enhance both reputation and effectiveness.

Last Import-109

Images Copyright 2012-2013 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business

Fostering Triangular Partnership, Professional Mentoring


6 June 2013 update: “Professional Mentoring – Fostering Triangular Partnership” is now available for free download.

“Triangular Partnership” is a term used by People to People to describe the relationship of three global groups:

  • Diaspora
  • Developing Countries Institutions
  • Western Institutions

Some background:

How does professional mentoring interact with this Triangular Partnership, and with the global diaspora in particular?

Here are three successful professional mentoring programs in which the global diaspora takes a key role:

  • Below are two pie charts showing a summary of 2001-2009 data on mentor and mentee work locations (from p.77 of the Sun Microsystems Labs Technical Report: “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009″ by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot and Helen Gracon). As you can see, for this Sun Microsystems world-wide Engineering mentoring program, the largest number of both mentors and mentees were based in the USA (green), compared to those based in APAC (Asia-Pacific Region, blue) and EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Africa Region, red). Even so, there was a disproportionate number mentors based in the USA (more than in APAC and EMEA combined). In 2009, when this data was analyzed, Sun had about 15,000 Engineering staff distributed among thirty locations around the world, including large campuses in China, India and Europe – but most of Sun’s Engineering staff was in the USA. These charts show professional mentors’ willingness to engage in successful mentoring relationships beyond borders in order to build and strengthen a community.
MenteeLocation.Sun2009 . MentorLocation.Sun2009
  • A second example of mentors’ and western institutions’ willingness to reach beyond their national boundaries for a greater good is the TechWomen mentoring program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). For TechWomen 2011, there were thirty-seven mentees from six Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries. For TechWomen 2012, there were forty-two mentees from eight MENA countries. All mentees were hosted at Silicon Valley companies for a month while working with both Professional and Cultural mentor volunteers from over fifty companies and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. TechWomen has been so successful that its size was doubled for 2013 and the geographic area expanded to include Sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to MENA. The purpose of TechWomen is to bring people together for greater understanding and to empower women and girls worldwide. In both TechWomen and the Sun Microsystems mentoring programs, many of the US-based mentors were either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. Sometimes those immigrant mentors or their families were from the same country as their mentee (a direct-diaspora connection), but most times not.
  • A final mentoring program example showing a more-direct diaspora connection was the sold-out December 2012 Inaugural Open Mentoring Session, presented by TiE Silicon Valley as part of their TiE SV MentorConnect program with MentorCloud. About TiE: “TiE, a not-for-profit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals, was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley, California, USA. Although its birth name, The Indus Entrepreneurs, signifies the ethnic South Asian or Indus roots of the founders, TiE stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise. It is an open and inclusive organization that has rapidly grown to more than 57 chapters in 14 countries.” Feedback on the Open Mentoring Session: 82% of mentees completed the post-event survey and rated the event as “Highly Recommended” or “Recommended”. 90% of them said the event “exceeded” their expectations, and a whopping 95% said they would recommend a similar session to their friends.

These examples have shown two legs of the triangle – Diaspora and Western Institutions – using mentoring for community building, mutual-understanding, and professional growth. To see mentoring connections with the triangle’s third leg – Developing Countries Institutions – check out the customer logos on the MentorCloud home page, including:

  • Global Science and Technology Foundation (GSTF) – Sub-Sahara African Universities
  • Indian Institute of Science Alumni Association (IIScAA) – Knowledge Exchange Programme
  • International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA)
  • The SABLE Accelerator – The South African Business Link to Experts
  • TechWadi – Building Bridges for Entrepreneurship – MENA region
  • TiE Silicon Valley
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (Wits)


Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson

1 Comment

Filed under Mentoring & Other Business

8 Essays on Mentoring


MentorCloud has been asked to contribute a chapter to a book being edited by one of our customers. As I did when writing “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009“, I am putting together chapter section drafts piece by piece, published in this blog and on the MentorCloud blog as they are developed. (By the way, Oracle is no longer distributing the Sun Microsystems Labs Technical Report: “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009″  by Katy DickinsonTanya Jankot and Helen Gracon, but it is still available for free download on our family website and is also available for purchase from the ACM Digital Library.)  Here are the eight essays I have published so far:

Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

IEEE Photographer


Huawei is hosting the 3-day IEEE Hot Interconnects conference in Santa Clara, California, this week and I am pleased to be the official event photographer. Yesterday was the first day of this 20th anniversary conference. It has been fun to see so many colleagues and friends from the Sun Labs diaspora, including Radia Perlman (called “The Mother of the Internet”, first woman to be a Sun Microsystems Fellow, many-time mentor in my SEED program, holder of more than 200 granted US patents, now an Intel Fellow). She gave a fascinating talk called “Network Myths and Mysteries.”

I am taking pictures again today – and posting them on the new IEEE Hot Interconnects Pinterest page.





Images Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved

1 Comment

Filed under News & Reviews

TechWomen Mentor Training

TechWomen documents

I was one of the teachers for the first TechWomen Mentor Workshop today. HP Labs in Palo Alto generously hosted the event. We were joined by most of the 38 Technical Mentors and more than a dozen Cultural Mentors from over 40 Silicon Valley companies.  These impressive professional women will coach the 38 Mentees from 6 countries and territories who will be arriving in June from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It was a day full of good questions, excitement, and anticipation.

TechWomen is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE), and implemented in partnership with the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI).  I have been the Mentoring Process Architect for TechWomen since September 2010, working with ABI.  It is a joy to see the program finally starting!

Among many topics, we discussed schedules and expectations, technical and business competencies, vocabulary, learning goals, mentoring and community resources. The TechWomen program team put together a Mentor Guide which included many of these materials. Additional community resources which came out in discussion:

Some elements of the TechWomen program were inspired by the SEED mentoring program I created and managed for Sun Microsystems for 10 years. Details on SEED are available in the free Sun Labs Technical Report “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009” (published in 2009).

HP Labs Palo Alto . Katy Dickinson TechWomen Huawei badge

Images Copyright 2011 Katy Dickinson

1 Comment

Filed under Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews