February 28, 2023
Kristina Lund, President and CEO of AES Ohio and AES Indiana, leads the company that provides service to more than a million customers. It’s a weighty role but one that Kristina Lund is prepared for partly because she’s had mentors.
Lund participated as a mentor for Dayton Business Journal’s Mentoring Monday event held at Wright State University. Lund took some time to discuss the value of a mentoring relationship.
Have you had a mentor?
I have benefited from many mentors over the course of my career. Some of them have been formal. In fact, my company has been really generous in deliberately connecting me with senior executives who complement my skills and experience.
Others have just been people with whom I’ve developed a close connection who I can ask anything about whether it’s personal or business.
Some of her mentors go all the way back to when she first started working, but her first formal mentor was a senior executive at AES a little more than 10 years ago.
He was able to really help me at a moment in my life where I could really benefit from a job perspective, but I was also able to provide him with some advice as well. So it really does go both ways.
How important is it to have a mentor?
What’s great about having a mentor is that you can hopefully consider (that relationship) a zone where you can ask things that would be too uncomfortable to ask your immediate supervisor or someone who is working very close to you. So you can get someone who's hopefully got some experience and judgment they can provide but who also can provide an independent view on the situation you are dealing with.
Getting an independent perspective can be valuable because sometimes we can get caught up in the details or emotions of a challenge. Being able to step back and get somebody who brings relevant experience but who can be objective is really helpful in reframing a situation.
Do you think it’s more important for a woman to have a mentor?
I think it is important for everyone but what could be potentially be different for women is that we may be more reluctant to seek out help.
I have experienced a lot of conversations with men who are earlier in their career who are unafraid to ask for help and share their ambitions. For some women that really doesn't come naturally or we’ve been taught to let the work speak for itself and not advocate for ourselves. Having events like the DBJ’s mentoring event is so great because it just provides a space where we are here and supporting each other.
Any tips on how to find a mentor?
First, I'd say have a broad perspective because you can really get good input from a variety of people. It doesn’t need to be the CEO of your company. It could just be someone who is a little bit further in their career and in a different part of the company than you, for example.
Secondly, think hard about what you want from the mentoring relationship because sometimes, speaking as a mentor now, I can be more effective if there are specific things that I can help someone with. A general conversation about a career, that can be a bit more challenging to find a way to help.
Finally, to seek out every opportunity to know yourself. Understanding your own strengths and areas of opportunity is how you can really grow very rapidly.
Reprinted with kind permission from the Dayton Business Journal.