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Mentoring as a Business Tool at IBM

Notes from presentation by Nana Balle from Mentoring and Networking: Women Building Trust in Our Cities Conference, Copenhagen, November 2009

IBM’s array of mentoring programs, from cross-generation and cross-cultural matching, to reverse and online mentoring.

Why mentoring?

  • Transfer and harness knowledge through generations
  • Global business growth
  • Build relationships across the company to support business

Business Impacts

  • Competitive advantage
  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced attrition
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Innovation driver


  • All staff
  • Targeted senior level employees
  • Women (70% currently have mentors)
  • ‘Elite’ students/interns
  • Individuals whose job or career identity includes or will include leadership,

Types of Mentoring (examples)

  • Traditional
  • Job shadowing
  • E-mentoring (matches with university students studying technical subjects in African countries)
  • Reverse mentoring (younger staff mentoring more mature individuals on e.g. social media)
  • Group mentoring (e.g. LGBT mentoring on coming out in the workplace)

Tools (examples)

  • Remote mentoring using simulated situations
  • Videos, blogs, role modeling, templates, electronic post cards

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