The Plank Center is committed to developing the next generation of leaders and advancing the profession. It is our honor to recognize six leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a powerhouse of influence and accelerates success in our profession.
Our question and answer series introduces the 2017 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.
Meet Megan Newhouse.
Megan Newhouse serves as Director of Culture Communications for GE and leads global efforts to empower and inspire employees around GE’s business strategy.
Why is mentoring important to the public relations profession?
So much of communications you only learn “on the job.” Our work is more of an art than a science and there are many unwritten rules you learn as you go. The best and most effective way to learn is to have someone mentoring and coaching you.
What advice would you tell your early-career self?
You don’t have to go it alone or have all the answers. Early on in your career – either because you are too scared to ask a question or too eager to impress – you can fall into a controlling and lonely track. You can still lead a project and not be the topic expert. You can still be the “communicator” on a project and ask for advice from non-communicators. No one has all the answers and no one succeeds alone.
What inspires/motivates you to be a mentor?
I have been so blessed to have amazing people mentor me. One of my great mentors, GE’s former head of communications Gary Sheffer, once shared with me advice one of his mentors said to him, “who is in your wallet?” Who are you investing in? How are you “paying it forward?” It’s inspiring to help others build the future.
What have you found to be the most important key to having a successful mentor/mentee relationship?
Can I have more than one? It’s a combination of honesty and tough love. Through honesty you build trust. Trust leads to the safety to be open to new ways of thinking. Then, at that point, a mentor can give you that tough love push outside your comfort zone to consider a new view or new path.
How has having a mentor influenced your career path?
Tremendously. All my mentors have encouraged and -when needed- pushed me to explore new things. Sometimes, when you are considering a career move, you just need someone you trust in your corner believing in you and cheering you on. I have been so fortunate to have many mentors do that for me over the years.
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday? Go for a hike or run with my Australian Shepard Lily and my husband Bob.
Favorite Drink? Green juice… who am I kidding? It’s coffee, of course. I work in communications!
My leadership tip is… always strive to find the balance between self-awareness and self-confidence. GE’s chairman and former CEO Jeff Immelt said once, “The best leaders can find the balance. If you are too self-aware you’ll get nothing done and if you’re too self-confident, you’re a jerk!”