J. Kelly Hoey

How Do You Mentor? Insights From Dalia Soliman-Powers, VP of Software Engineering @CapitalOne #InvestedInTech

Dalia Soliman-Powers is a VP of Software Engineering at Capital One in Plano, Texas. Dalia also leads the Women in Tech Chapter in Plano and is an involved in the Male Allies program through Women in Tech with Capital One executive, Mark Cauwels. She was recognized recently in the Dallas Business Journal as a 2016 Top Woman in Tech. Later this week Dalia will be in Houston, attending the annual Grace Hopper Celebration #GHC16 — interacting with the other 15,000 attendees (and engaging in a whole lot of mentoring, I’m sure).

Me: How do you define “mentoring”?

Dalia: Mentorship is a mutually rewarding experience where mentors with Subject Matter Expertise engage with mentees seeking to develop expertise in the SME’s domain. I’ve always benefited from being on either side of the relationship.

Me: What’s your approach to mentoring?

Dalia: My approach is to customize mentoring to the individual’s needs. I like it to be as simple as possible. When mentoring, I always try to guide individuals to find their own path and come up with the solution that works for their situation. It’s about giving them the tools to help themselves and think outside the box.

Me: How did you come to using this approach of providing mentorship?

Dalia: It’s a lesson I learned in life a long time ago when I was a kid. The best way to learn is to dig in and figure out the answers yourself. My mom used to sometimes help me with homework, and I’d want to take the easy way out and just have her guide me through the steps. She did that a few times and I realized, she’s not there with me when test time comes. So I started doing my own homework with no help. I made mistakes that helped me learn. Then when it comes to the defining moments, I’m much more equipped to hold my own.

Me: How has your own experiences with being mentored influence how you approaching mentoring?

Dalia: My mentors usually followed a similar path of sharing experiences and having me think about how to customize to my situation. Never give people the answer on a silver platter. Always have them work through the problems themselves.

Me: What advice do you have for professionals who aren’t sure how to find a mentor or how to engage once they meet someone who could be their mentor?

Dalia: Find someone you aspire to be like. Don’t shy away from asking them to mentor you. Even if they can’t do it, at least they’ll know who you are and have pointers for you. If you are fortunate to find a mentor, watch, listen and learn. Use your own judgement about their advice. By the way, you can often learn more from mistakes and failures than a happy path. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Find Dalia and her Capital One colleagues at #GHC16 — and here’s my checklist of how to connect with this year’s conference, where you’re attending in-person or virtually.

Thanks to Capital One @CapitalOne for their continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion in technology, and for sponsoring #GHC16 (and this post).


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