With all eyes on PyeongChang, South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, we got to thinking about our own next generation Olympic-level talent here at Hord Coplan Macht. We truly believe that our people are what set us apart and that it’s up to us to create a workplace that they not only enjoy but also excel in. One way in which we’re creating a platform for success is through the HCM Mentorship Program, which pairs ambitious HCMers with leaders who want to see others succeed.

The way we see it, our mentorship relationships are like that of Olympic athletes and the high-caliber coaches that guide and push their protégées to new levels. In this way, we’re creating better current leaders, future leaders, and, in the end, a better environment for our team. All that combined translates to better work for our clients.

One relationship that resulted from the Mentorship Program is that of Cindy Shonaiya, AIA, LEED AP, who leads HCM’s Senior Living Studio, and Wendy Oberer, a Project Designer. They both describe the relationship as starting naturally after working on a committee together and then eventually in the same studio, and it became more formal once the HCM Mentorship Program began.

“I reached out to Wendy directly to start the formal mentorship,” Cindy said. “We deal with a lot of the same issues as women of color – in this profession, there aren’t that many of us. We’re also both moms and wives so we talk a lot about work-life issues and how to handle them. Some of that is why it’s such a special relationship.”

“I was very excited when Cindy asked me to start a formal mentorship relationship,” Wendy said. “Between her experience and success, and the fact that she’s always looking to help me get to the next level, I knew she would be a good mentor for me.”

We’re sure not to just talk the talk, but take it to the next level – just like all aspects of what we do here at HCM. “HCM encourages mentors and mentees to meet for lunch on a regular schedule – monthly is what Wendy and I have set up currently,” Cindy said. “The committee that’s in charge of the program checks in every six months or so to see how things are going, if the relationship is a good fit, what they can do to formally support us, etc.”

A big part of the Mentorship Program focuses on the path to licensure, something Wendy is currently in the process of and for which she looks to Cindy for guidance.

“When you have a family, it’s not easy to go home every night and study for your exams,” Wendy said. “Cindy’s a mom too and she gave me great advice about how to make it work, studying in tidbits here and there, at lunch, etc.”

“I serve on the Maryland Board of Architects, the body that licenses architects, so I have a strong belief in the benefits of licensure,” Cindy said. “I also understand the challenges facing women in the profession, who may be balancing life and work on top of trying to get licensed, so I try to provide encouragement and share tips. It’s something I definitely want for Wendy.”

In terms of how their relationship – and any mentor/mentee relationship at HCM – relates to the Olympics? “I actually don’t see it as a coach/player relationship,” Cindy said. “It’s really more of team sport. If I had to pick a sport that illustrates the mentorship relationship, it would probably be bobsledding. I see it as us hurtling through life together. Sure, at certain points, one person is pushing and the other is driving or steering, but the bottom line is that we’re in it together.”

“I feel the same way,” Wendy responded. “She’s not coaching me because in order for her to do that, the relationship would be more like her training me to get to Point A so she can get to Point B. But it’s not like that. It’s more that if I’m successful and happy and so is she, we all win from the relationship. She influences me and I influence her back. We all succeed together, we all fail together, we all stand up together.”

Looking for a firm that wants to see you succeed and will go above and beyond to ensure you do? Check out our open positions. Your mentor (or mentee) could be waiting.