Paying It Forward

NETSCOUT employees support each other’s career development with grassroots mentoring program.

paying it forward

By Steve Sviontek

Years ago, when I was a brand-new employee of NETSCOUT working as an entry-level customer support engineer, I ran into a customer situation involving a piece of our technology with which I was unfamiliar.

As I struggled to resolve the issue, a senior member of the engineering team whom I’d never met came to my cubicle with the device. He then proceeded to take the device apart and spent about an hour explaining in detail how it worked, giving me the necessary information and knowledge to resolve the issue for the customer.

I thanked him profusely, and his response has stuck with me over the years: “That is how we do it here. Make sure you pay it forward and always take the time to help someone who needs help or teach them if they don’t know something.” I have spent my career here at NETSCOUT trying to live up to that example.

When you meet people who have achieved success in their careers, a brief conversation will almost always reveal that their success can be attributed at least partially to intervention or advice from a respected coworker with more experience, knowledge, or wisdom. How many others could be successful if only they had the same support?

That’s what I love about NETSCOUT’s mentoring program. The goal of the program is to provide career and leadership skills improvement for our employees via interpersonal interactions and mutual learning of paired staff.

Once the mentor pairings are settled, the formal part of the program lasts about six months. It’s completely inclusive—open to all employees, at all levels, in all locations, in any job function. The goal is to create long-lasting relationships while providing support and enabling employees to take ownership of their career paths. Many of the program’s previous pairings have resulted in ongoing relationships that continue to benefit both the mentors and the mentees. The great part about this program is that you don’t need a network of connections to find a mentor—anyone can take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the program.

The program itself continues to mature, with the original team of two people now consisting of five employees who volunteer their time. We also have seen positive continued growth in the program over the last three years. There are regular check-ins and forums for the participants, and an online resource library has been established and is constantly updated with useful articles and references. At the end of the six months, the participants are surveyed, and those results are used to continue to improve the program. In fact, many features of the program are a direct result of feedback from previous participants. Survey results showed that 94 percent were able to achieve the goals they set at the beginning of the program. Most mentors and mentees agree that this program empowers individuals to take more control over their career development and state that they would recommend it to others.

As for me, I served as a mentor in the first year of the program and have been involved ever since. It’s just one more way for me to continue paying forward something that was given to me a long time ago, and it’s impacted many people I have worked with since. And that person who helped me? Well, we still work together, and he’s still providing that mentorship to others.

Sviontek is a mentor program lead and AVP, NETSCOUT Service Delivery.    


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