The Women in Streaming Media mentorship program was launched in 2019. It aims to help participants identify and achieve career development and personal growth goals that support business objectives, as well as contribute to the advancement of female leadership across the industry. I spoke with Iris Nedio and Beilan Wang about their experience participating in the mentoring scheme.
- Iris Nedio: Iris has worked in the video industry for more than 20 years, including roles within post-production, content delivery and managing both accounts and teams. She is currently the Director of Strategic Accounts at Accedo.
- Beilan Wang: Beilan is a Senior Engineer Lead at HBO. She coaches her team and mentors a few engineers internally. She sees the mentorship program as a great opportunity to develop her network and grow within her role.
Q: What is the overall structure of the program and what appealed to you most about a mentoring partnership?
Iris: The program offers a series of sessions over the course of six months, each of which explores a range of topics such as strategic networking, executive presence, communication, and work/life integration. The focus is on addressing both the challenges and opportunities facing female professionals and developing skills to support mentees. We set our own meeting schedule and followed some simple rules based on confidentiality and honest two-way feedback. The scheme has created a culture, where mentoring is seen as a tool to help participants perform at their highest level, and this really appealed to me.
Beilan: I received a LinkedIn invitation to join the program. I thought it seemed like a great opportunity to learn from a woman in a senior role and to help support my career development. I find it very inspiring to see how other women have succeeded in pursuing their goals and which career choices led them there. Mentees are encouraged to bring any issues to the table that they’re interested in pursuing, which means that the program is tailored towards my own goals rather than offering general guidance.
Q: How did you develop the relationship initially and what did you want to achieve?
Iris: The program encourages mentors to really commit time and energy to developing their mentees and provide actionable steps. It was important for me to understand how my advice related to Beilan’s specific situation and get regular updates outside of the scheduled 1:1 sessions. My goal when getting involved in the scheme was to pay back and help other women in the industry. I’ve been a mentee in the past and the VP I was paired with really gave me a push. Getting guidance on how to position myself in certain situations was very empowering and I wanted to offer the same opportunity.
Beilan: I’d listed areas that I wanted to focus on, and the program matched me with Iris. I made sure that I was well prepared for our sessions and my requests were mostly related to transitioning into my new lead role. I had a lot of questions on how to develop strong leadership and how I could continue to progress beyond this role in the future. Iris helped me understand the transferrable skills I already had and look at what I needed to focus on next. She gave me some great advice, that has given me a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and how they impact my decision making.
Q: What have been the most important take-aways from this experience?
Iris: Initially, I thought it would be a challenge to mentor someone in a completely different time zone but as we’ve all realized recently, remote networking can be just as effective as face to face meetings. As I mentioned previously, my focus when signing up for the scheme had been to give back and support another woman in the industry. However, I feel that I’ve also grown personally from this experience. It’s a huge responsibility to mentor someone, knowing that you can have such a big impact on their career. It means that you take a very thoughtful approach when offering advice.
Beilan: A key skill has been the ability to develop effective relationships with stakeholders, peers, and cross-functional teams within my company. Mentoring has made me very focused on coaching my own team to be a better version of themselves and they’ve told me how much they appreciate it. Understanding each individual’s strength and weaknesses has been vital, I try to assign the right type of work to the right people wherever possible.
Q: How do you see the industry changing in the long-term and how can schemes like this help facilitate change?
Iris: The percentage of women in the industry is still very low with even smaller representation in management and C-level roles. Breaking gender stereotypes is perhaps one of the biggest challenges. Technology has traditionally been associated with men but that’s no longer the case. We are seeing a lot more initiatives to bring women together and discuss tangible paths to success. I think we can make great strides by continuing to share our experiences through all levels of seniority.
Beilan: This is a male-dominated industry. HBO used to be one of the top companies in terms of the number of women in senior leadership roles. It’s prompted me to broaden my perspective to the industry as a whole and to a wider community of professional women. Better visibility of accomplished female role models would definitely inspire and encourage more young women to believe in themselves. I hope that I can be one of them.
Read more about the Women in Streaming Media program here.