Fostering a Culture of Sponsorship @ Uber

eng.uber.com

Ok this is obviously a bit of corporate PR on the Uber engineering blog, but I wanted to use it to plant this seed in all of your brains. The topic of data analyst career paths has come up recently, and one of the things that hasn't been talked about is mentorship / sponsorship.

In many career paths, mentorship and sponsorship are absolutely critical for the development of junior staff. One mentor can make the critical difference to set a career path off on a completely different trajectory—this impact cannot be understated.

The hard part about this on data teams is that a) they are often small-ish, and b) there aren't many folks working in data today that have over a decade of experience, which is often where you draw your mentor/sponsor cohort from. As such, mentorship within data teams isn't often done: I'm not sure I've ever spoken to a data team that has something explicitly in place to support this, whereas it's fairly common on leading engineering teams.

I have a suggestion and a question. The suggestion: skills needed on the data team aren't purely data-related. As such, it's totally relevant for a senior practitioner from another related function provide mentorship to someone on the data team. The question: what have you seen on this topic? Does your data team have a formal mentorship / sponsorship program set up? What has and hasn't worked? I'd love to hear from you.

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