August 13, 2010

Hanrahan gives women space to find their strengths

2010 Women of Distinction - Outstanding Mentor

Connie Hanrahan’s motto is: “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

That’s not what makes her such a popular mentor, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Hanrahan started mentoring young women through a formal internship program she offered as director of marketing for Rocky Mountain Business Ventures. In 1995, she founded marketing firm The Mantooth Co. where she continues to offer an official mentoring program to female college students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher only.

Hanrahan believes she has formally mentored anywhere from three to five interns per year. Informally, it’s a little more difficult to figure how many women – of various ages – seek her guidance or merely wish to “pick her brain” whether it be via telephone, email, over lunch or bumping into her on the street.

Her success as a business woman makes her an ideal mentor, but mentoring was not something Hanrahan specifically set out to do.

“Not at all,” she admits, but she does recall the day when she decided to start.

A young woman approached Hanrahan after a meeting to run a few ideas by her. When asked why she didn’t speak up during the meeting to present her good ideas then, the young woman said she did not want to look stupid in front of the men in the room. Combating women’s lack confidence in the workplace is one of Hanrahan’s biggest objectives as a mentor.

To help build confidence, Hanrahan essentially leaves her interns when they might least expect it. This is a mentoring style some of her interns jokingly, but lovingly, call “baptism by fire.” She will lead by example and then purposefully leave, whether it be for a business trip or for an afternoon at the golf course. This absence, both mentor and mentees agree, forces the women to find their own inner strengths, instincts and abilities.

During her internship at Mantooth, Carmen Ruyle Hardy was assigned several event and marketing projects and told to convince clients that she could handle their campaigns. Hanrahan said she’d check in on her after she returned from a trip to Cozumel.

Hardy eventually accepted an offer to become Mantooth’s first employee. Under Hanrahan’s arm’s-length mentoring, she said she learned the value of supporting those who support you, and grew to become the owner of two graphics companies with interns of her own.

“Even more importantly, I am only one of several smart, confident women who attribute many of her successes directly to Connie’s influences,” she wrote in her nomination letter. “She has shown us the value of the importance of passing the torch and empowering the next generation.”

Considering how many women Hanrahan has mentored or advised over the years, she is rather humble about what she does and merely describes it as “something I can contribute.”

And despite the number of women whose lives have been touched by Hanrahan – those who no doubt consider it much more than a contribution – she feels young women still need guidance.

So, what does the mentor who never really set out to be a mentor think about mentoring now? “It’s not something I think about not doing.”

Click here for a list of the
2010 Women of Distinction and links to their profiles.

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