Mentoring Millennials is regarded in corporate America as a "nice" thing to do, but often is overlooked in the controlled chaos. However for millennials, mentorship is a way to help them translate what they learned in college into real world experience. But the benefits of mentoring millennials does not end there. Studies have proven that mentors who are 86% more engaged in their own role within the company.
Jordan Strait Donovan is a Business Support Analyst at Valvoline Inc. Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume.
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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
The Transcript - The Value of Millennial Mentorship
00:00 Amanda Hammett: Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, and this is the Millennial Rockstars podcast. Alright, in today's episode, I have Jordan Donovan, from Valvoline, and she's gonna break some major millennial moulds right up front, because she has been at Valvoline since the day she graduated from college, 13 years ago. So I want you to listen in and find out how Jordan learned to step up and make herself known instead of just waiting and hoping that her hard work was gonna get her the recognition that she deserves. Join us in the episode.
00:31 Amanda Hammett: Hey there, this is Amanda Hammett, The Millennial Translator®. Thank you so much for joining us today. We actually have someone also from Valvoline. This is Jordan Donovan. Jordan, how are you today?
00:43 Jordan Donovan: I'm good, thanks for letting me call in.
00:45 Amanda Hammett: Oh you're so welcome, thanks for coming in. So tell us a little bit about you, Jordan.
00:52 Jordan Donovan: I have been working for Valvoline for about 13 years in a variety of roles. I'm a Lexington, Kentucky native, so I've pretty much been here since high school, and college, just a short 20 minutes away.
01:05 Amanda Hammett: Oh, nice.
01:06 Jordan Donovan: Yes, I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl and three-year old little boy.
01:10 Amanda Hammett: Oh, fun, fun, fun, fun. So, alright, I know that you've done a variety of things since you've been at Valvoline. Tell us about that very first role transitioning out of college in the classroom into the real world, so to speak. What was that like? What was that first role, and what was that like for you?
01:36 Jordan Donovan: Well, when I left college, I came over to Valvoline and started working in customer service. And my father had also worked for the company so I kind of got my foot in the door to get some jobs, and just some good experience working in customer service learning how to deal with conflict management and problem solving. So it was a very good experience. I worked for there about a year and then was able to be promoted into some additional roles.
02:04 Amanda Hammett: That's really, really cool. I love that you did the customer service route because I think that a lot of times people come in and they're like, "Oh I don't wanna do customer service, that's not cool," or not whatever, but I really think that customer service gives you a good broad view of the company in general, but also dealing with the general public. Because end of the day, you gotta do it. You know, you've gotta...
02:27 Jordan Donovan: Right. [laughter]
02:27 Amanda Hammett: Deal with the general public. So that's really, really, really cool. So now you've been again with Valvoline for quite a while. The national average or millennials are often made fun of for job hopping. 13 years is not exactly what I would consider job hopping though.
02:47 Jordan Donovan: That's true.
02:47 Amanda Hammett: So you've [laughter] been there a little while. Have you had any stumbling blocks so far in your career, in those 13 years?
02:58 Jordan Donovan: If you look at my resume, most of the jobs I was in for about three years before I moved on. Some of those, I definitely think, gave me the skill sets that I was able to use for future roles, but I think some of my mentality for the first few years was my work will be my track record and they'll see that and promote me. But the last probably, couple of years, as I've built some mentor relationships, they've been teaching me, you gotta own your career, you gotta get out there, put your foot in the door and try to get a head above everyone. So having mentors, I think has definitely helped me with some of the stumbling blocks that I faced in prior years just because I have champions now who are bringing my name to the table in some discussions and giving me project work or working with my current supervisors to just showcase some of my skills. So that's probably helped me in the last few years where in past, I probably was like, "I'll just work really hard, and they'll promote me eventually." That didn't always work, I think.
04:00 Amanda Hammett: Oh, that's wonderful. I'm sorry you had to go through that experience of not figuring that out, but I'm so glad that you did figure out this getting a mentor. I think mentorship is one of the things that I advocate most for. I think, that is incredibly important on both sides of the table, whether you're the mentor or the mentee. But tell me, Jordon, how did you get this first mentor? Tell me how that came about.
04:25 Jordan Donovan: So my boss in a former role, she kinda moved into a different role, and we started a mentor program here. So we kinda kicked off a pilot program, and they matched people up with skill sets. So one of the things I wanted to work on was command skills. Just being able to present in front of an audience and have confidence. And there was only one person that also checked that as a strength. So we got paired up and just through conversations, they helped provide a little bit of feedback on opportunities I could work on for my command skills. It's always a work in progress for me, but I definitely think they've helped strengthen that skill set.
05:03 Amanda Hammett: That is amazing. I love that you knew this about yourself, and that you did something about... To further that skill, regardless of the fear because I know that the thought of presenting in front of people is scary to most people. I do it a lot, so it's different for me but most people, it's a major fear. And I'm glad that you attacked it head on. That's really cool. And I think that that's really good for your career as well. Have you noticed a difference now in your growing comfort level with giving presentations in front of people, have you noticed a difference? And I don't really know the right word I'm trying to use here, but have you noticed a difference in how you feel like you're perceived by other people, especially the people above you?
05:52 Jordan Donovan: Yes, and I think just kind of owning my work and presenting it too. Where, probably in past years, I'm like, "I'll do this presentation. I'll do this analysis, and I'll hand it off." I've been trying to take those opportunities to say, "Can I go present that? Can I have that experience?" And I probably stumbled through several of them, but I think as I said, I'm getting better and more confident with each one. So continuing to volunteer for those opportunities when they arise.
06:18 Amanda Hammett: And there is no substitute for that face time because a lot of times when people above you, when they're thinking about a presentation, even if it was a group effort, they tend to remember the person that actually presented it; whether they did none of the work or all of the work, that's the person that they most associate. It's that's facial recognition, and they have put that face with that group. So good for you for stepping up and for going forward with that. Now, have you had any other relationships with mentors, or is it just this one?
06:50 Jordan Donovan: So like I said, this year, I sat with my mentor and I was like, "I kinda wanna branch across. I thought maybe I'd like some marketing or some digital experience in my next five to 10-year career plan." So about a year ago, I added an additional mentor in the marketing department. So she's director of one of our brands. So we meet quarterly. We've been busy. There's been a lot of changes going on this year, so we probably haven't met as regular. And then, I added in a VP as well. So we were gonna meet quarterly, twice a year. We were gonna try to meet occasionally. He ended up leaving the company, so I'm kind of searching for that again. But just getting their feedback, how they kinda navigated their career paths, some stumbling blocks they may have had to watch out, and just getting their feedback on things they may have learned from that I can use to my advantage.
07:37 Amanda Hammett: Absolutely. I think that that is... I think that you're doing it; that's fantastic. The feedback that you're willing to take, and just putting yourself out there in new and different roles; that's serious growth, and that's where a lot of things start. So I feel like women in particular tend to be a little more, "Oh, I'm gonna let my work speak for itself." And although you might be the best person at this particular job, sometimes it's the person that puts themself out there that is the one that gets the promotion or the one that gets the recognition. So good for you. Good for you for doing that. I love it. So now... Is there anything that... We've talked about the mentors. Is there anything that a particular boss in the past, and in your various roles, or maybe even a co-worker has done that really keeps you engaged, or keeps you really wanting to get out there and do good work for Valvoline?
08:38 Jordan Donovan: I've been fortunate that I've had great leaders in most of my roles, and as I've kind of made efficiencies and processes and had additional bandwidth, I can reach out to them to say, "You know, I'd really like to cross-train on a different product line, or pick up some project work." So they've always been open to that. Our company is great; they do tuition reimbursement. So I had worked here about a year, and I decided I'd like to go back to school and they paid for my MBA. So they're amazing about those opportunities. And then, most jobs, there's been certifications or skillsets that we can do. So I did my... When I worked in pricing, I became a certified pricing manager. When I was in supply chain, I worked on my APICS certification. And then right now, we've been having some negotiations, looking for opportunities to certify some product line management. So they're always willing, I feel like to go the extra mile to train us to be more proficient in our job.
09:31 Amanda Hammett: That's really cool. Now, besides the additional training, and continuing education, and the tuition reimbursement, that's fantastic.
09:40 Amanda Hammett: Is there anything else that you can think of that Valvoline offers, as far as benefits or perks that has just been... That makes you feel like, "Hey, they see me as a human. They want me to do my best." Is there anything...
09:56 Jordan Donovan: Well, like I said, if you look at my resume, I've been here 13 years. They typically promote within, when possible, so I feel like that's kind of a leg up over external candidates. The tuition reimbursement. We're heavily involved in the community; we do the Habitat builds every year, the Big Brothers Big Sisters. They offered a SOAR programs. So I did a shortened version of the SOAR women's leadership training. And then, through our women's networking program here, I've been able to attend several conferences for Women Leading Kentucky, and so forth. So just to network with women outside the organization. So just trading stories and successes, so that's been good too.
10:36 Amanda Hammett: Oh, actually, that's how I came into Valvoline, was through your women's group. So it's a great little group. Not little, actually, it's not little at all. [chuckle] But it's wonderful. You guys do a lot of really fantastic things at Valvoline as far as just building company loyalty to the company with the employees, and things like that. I noticed that when I was walking around that you could just see a sense of people were happy to be there. That's not always the case.
11:08 Jordan Donovan: Our new building is fabulous. So it's very modern and high-tech, so I think everyone's loving that too. [chuckle]
11:15 Amanda Hammett: It is. It is quite beautiful. It's quite beautiful actually. So now, is there anything that... Obviously, you've been there a little while, but is there anything as an older millennial that we...
11:31 Amanda Hammett: Is there anything that you wish that the younger millennials or even up-and-coming Gen Z, is there anything that you wish that they knew as they were matriculating into the workforce?
11:40 Jordan Donovan: I think, just take opportunities, volunteer for things. When you come in, just have an open mind and a good positive attitude. I think that's gotten me pretty far. I think I'm easy to work with, I think people can approach me for questions, and if I don't know the answer, I can try to help them, or navigate them to someone who might. And like I said, probably three of my five roles here have been brand new to Valvoline, so no script was written, but I was willing to walk in and develop that so it was a learning together with my manager. But just being open to that.
12:15 Amanda Hammett: And this is totally kinda plays into that. But did failure and just trying to figure things out as you went along because if it was completely new and there was no script, there probably were some things that didn't work out so well, right?
12:31 Jordan Donovan: Right. So I guess I kind of developed that playbook by trial and elimination. So there's definitely things I learned from to avoid and you make mistakes as you're learning. They were new jobs so I think people were a little bit more open-minded, but it has, like I said, developed me and strengthened me for future roles just having that learning curve, I guess.
12:53 Amanda Hammett: I love it. I love it. I love when you're in and you have an opportunity to actually fail and sometimes that's the most freeing thing because you're like, "Alright. Well, that didn't work, so let's just get up and brush ourselves off and keep going." So gotta do it.
13:06 Jordan Donovan: Yes.
13:08 Amanda Hammett: That's fantastic. Well, is there anything that you wish that companies did that made the hiring process a little bit better? But let me actually change that up a little bit. The hiring process as you guys are bringing in new people, how it affects you. Is there anything that you wish that Valvoline, for instance, knew about that, how that affects you as a clerk?
13:38 Jordan Donovan: I think for us, just in some of the interview process, some of ours can be formal, they're more panel interviews. So I think sometimes we've been steering those away and point even more towards looking at their skill set, looking at their work experience or their past experiences if they're an internal candidate and just trying to leverage that more than just how they might interview or how they may look on a resume, how they work in real life situations.
14:05 Amanda Hammett: Right. And you guys do so much internal promotion, which is just phenomenal. I love it. So very cool.
14:14 Jordan Donovan: And for millennials, I think we have so many coming in. I laugh, I used to be the young one here and I'm like, "Now, I've been replaced by this whole new generation coming in." But I feel like they have so much insight and new ideas and they're just like a fresh breath to some... A lot of us have been here several years, so I think they can offer some unique perspective. I also laugh because I feel like so many of them that have these awesome internships they've had and this higher education. They come with so much to the table from the beginning.
14:43 Amanda Hammett: Yes, I know exactly what you're talking about. [chuckle] Later today I have a meeting, there's a university here in Atlanta that is doing a study on women entrepreneurs, and they reached out to me wanting me to be one of their study subjects and I was like, "Oh." And I was expecting this was like a graduate study. No, this is a first semester freshmen students. [laughter] I was like, "Okay." Well we'll just...
15:14 Jordan Donovan: Like I'll look at some resumes of who we've interviewed. And I'm like, "They have amazing experiences already."
15:20 Amanda Hammett: Yeah. Absolutely. It is amazing some of the things that they're doing before they even get into the workforce, so it's just what can they do once they get there?
15:31 Jordan Donovan: Right. Yes.
15:33 Amanda Hammett: Wonderful. Well, Jordan, I really appreciate all of your insights. I love that you have had all this wonderful longevity at Valvoline. Very much breaking a stereotypical millennial mold there. So thank you, thank you, thank you for that and thank you for sharing with our audience about all of your experience and the ups and downs, and the not so fun parts of growing in your career. I love it. Is it okay if our audience reaches out to you on LinkedIn?
16:05 Jordan Donovan: Yes, I would love that.
16:06 Amanda Hammett: Well, perfect. I will put a link to your LinkedIn account in the show notes, but otherwise Jordan, it has been my pleasure. Thank you.
16:14 Jordan Donovan: Thank you so much. [chuckle]
16:16 Amanda Hammett: Bye. Thank you.
16:17 Jordan Donovan: Bye.
16:19 Amanda Hammett: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials and some free resources, visit my website at amandahammett.com. The link is below; it's amandahammett.com. There you can download a free Millennial Employee Engagement Guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day-to-day basis because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.