The importance of mentorship

Young woman looking at a laptop with her mentor watching


In this time of economic uncertainty, particularly in the tech sector, mentorship plays an increasingly crucial role.

With macro-economic challenges, market disruptions, intense competition, and rapid technological advancements, markets are evolving at an unprecedented pace. So, how can we enhance business value while ensuring that nobody gets left behind?

Ann Schlemmer, CEO of Percona

To answer this and more, we sat down with Ann Schlemmer, CEO of Percona. Percona is a leader in open source database software, support and services. In this role, Schlemmer builds upon Percona’s legacy of open source excellence, leading the company on its mission to help businesses make databases and applications run better through a unique combination of expertise and open source software.

Having joined Percona in 2013, Schlemmer has held various leadership positions in the organization, including President, General Manager, Vice President of Customer Success, and Senior Director of Consulting. Prior to Percona, Schlemmer was part of the MySQL Professional Services team at Sun Microsystems and later Oracle. Schlemmer has a BS in Finance from Miami University and an MBA from Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management. She and her family live in Hood River, OR


Mentorship emerges as a pivotal factor in transforming uncertainty into opportunity, revolutionising our work practices in numerous ways. It’s inspiring to hear stories about diversity reshaping company culture and even positively impacting the bottom line.

Personally, I make it a point to set aside time for introspection, considering how I can contribute to fostering transformative learning and development experiences. As a CEO, mentorship holds immense significance in my role. I truly appreciate the position I hold and recognize it as a significant personal achievement. However, I was taken aback by the perception and impact it has/had on others. A former colleague once emailed me, saying, “I use Percona as an example and highlight that you are the CEO. You are a role model, not sure you knew that!” This generous reminder urges me to be even more mindful of my conduct because people are watching, and rightfully so.

It is not lost on me the need for more women leaders in all fields, but especially in technology.

Those of us who have attained leadership positions and the advantages they offer must be mindful to put those advantages to work for the benefit of others.

I try to ensure that individuals are seen and understood to make a positive impact. It requires me to be curious and take the time to understand their situations because they are likely different from mine. My responsibility is to ensure everyone who works at Percona has the necessary tools to not only do their job effectively and comfortably but within an inspiring, supportive and engaging environment. 

Implementing mentorship opportunities starts with leaders looking within their organisation for potential mentors. This is not to offset all mentor responsibilities on individual employees, but having female supervisors and executive women available to provide direction and help navigate the corporate world can go a long way. 

It is essential to remember that even small actions can profoundly impact those around us.

We don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of being a role model but rather work towards lifting women up in the workplace and creating a more inclusive and inspiring environment for all by taking one step at a time.

I would encourage businesses to think more holistically about their people, unlocking opportunities as they look to develop new skills or create personalised intelligent experiences so people can reach their full potential. Creating a collaborative culture and proactively setting up mentoring programmes can help women in the workplace thrive in their careers and inspire a stronger, more confident future generation of women to join the technology sector — which will benefit both the market and individuals in the long run.




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