Mentor/Mentee Spotlight: The NORDP Mentoring Program in Five

Name: David Widmer

Institution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Are you a Mentor? Mentee? Both? Both

1)      What influenced you to become a mentor or mentee?
When I joined NORDP, I found a community dedicated to sharing best practices with a newbie, so I signed up for the first class of mentors and mentees.  My mentor helped me acclimate to this brave new world of Research Development and guided me through the projects my new role held for me.  We actually continued beyond the official 12-month span of the program.  Then, I became a mentor hoping to provide similar grounding to new NORDP members.  Now, years later, I signed up as a mentee again.  My current mentor challenges me in very different ways to reach the next level in my career as an RD professional.

2)      What surprised you about being a mentor and/or mentee?
As a former teacher, it actually didn’t surprise me to find that I learned from my mentees.  However, when I returned as a mentee years later, I was surprised at how my learning style had morphed since the first time.  That means I can approach the relationship with my current mentor in ways that were not part of my thinking as a new RD professional.  I am experiencing this match in a new light where my current mentor can be a combined guide, coach, and peer.

3)      How has participating in the NORDP mentoring program impacted your day-to-day work?
My NORDP mentors – past and present – have given me opportunities to talk through conundrums, strategies, or projects.  Their fresh insights, from the outside looking in, have provided me with new avenues of thought and/or confirmed that I was on the right avenue already.

4)      What is one way being in the mentoring program has helped increase or broaden your understanding of research development?
The Mentoring Program matching application pinpoints just the right information so that the mentor/mentee pairs share skills and interests that are complimentary but not identical.  These very differences between me and my mentors and mentees gave me an expanded view of the RD community that wouldn’t have been visible from my desk.

5)      Are there any additional thoughts would you like to share about the NORDP mentoring program?
I encourage new members to apply for a mentor, but more importantly, I challenge all past mentees to pay it forward and sign up to mentor another NORDP-ite.  You will find it very rewarding.  The NORDP resources available to mentors and mentees are extensive, and you’ll have a whole community behind you to provide you with support.

The NORDP Mentoring Program
The NORDP Mentoring Program offers a formalized pairing process to match a mentor and a mentee with similar professional interests and different levels of experience in order to frame a relationship that offers mutual guidance and support. Once pairs are matched, the mentoring process is an informal one based on the needs of each individual pair.

We encourage Research Development Professionals who have been in the Research Development field for a few years to consider volunteering to be a mentor; and we encourage members who are new (or relatively new) to the field to sign up as a mentee. But feel free to sign up for whatever you feel you need. You can even sign up to be a mentee AND a mentor!

Open Enrollment to the Mentoring Program can be accessed through the following link. The survey will be available through March 16, 2018.

Interested in learning more? Check out the website.

If you have any questions, please send an email to

Interested in learning how you can leverage principles of mentoring at your institution?
You are invited to attend a NORDP Pre-Conference Workshop to learn strategies for advancing the research enterprise through building and supporting effective mentoring relationships as well as developing on-campus mentoring programs: Taking the Research Development Professsional to the Next Level Through Effective Mentoring.

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