“Out of all the wonderful aspects of the Developing Leaders program, I am most appreciative for the confidence it gave me to not limit myself and to be brave in chasing new opportunities.”
I participated in the Lightbox Developing Leaders mentorship program, Mentee Class of 2020-2021. At the time I was a young environmental consultant, with five years in the industry and my supervisor encouraged me to apply for the program, as she was always looking for ways to help me grow and learn, especially in the world of commercial real estate. I jumped at the opportunity to apply because I am always open to new connections, and, at the time, I was looking to find a mentor outside of my organization mainly to get guidance on how best to grow my career and have someone I could go to with questions and advice. I was not really sure what to expect going into the program, but I thought it would be very formal and “serious.” I was so wrong! I was pleasantly surprised when we had our first meetings and I quickly learned that everyone was so welcoming and warm, making it feel like a space where I could let my guard down and learn. I immediately felt encouraged and inspired by the passion of the mentors and program leaders.
My mentor, Holly Neber, works in the environmental consulting industry like me, and is the female CEO of AEI Consultants, a large national firm. It was so exciting for me to be connected with a female leader in our industry and have the opportunity to learn from her directly. During our 1:1 sessions, she was open to discussing many different things and always willing to answer my many questions, no matter the topic. Looking back, this allowed me to get her advice on how to have difficult conversations, build my resume, advocate for myself, and so much more. Even after the program ended, I continued to rely on her for advice and career guidance.
In addition to our monthly mentor-mentee calls, I also had various opportunities to network and meet other young professionals like me, as well as leaders in the commercial real estate industry. Through activities like book discussions, webinars with outside speakers, and zoom Q&As with industry veterans, I was able to foster relationships with other experienced leaders beyond just my assigned mentor. The connections I made during my time in the program have been invaluable. The program also provided us with learning opportunities and speakers, which helped me to develop professionally and personally. We were able to hear from experts on topics such as developing our personal brand and putting our best foot forward. My final project was delivering an Elevator Pitch to the Board of Governors where I got to explain the parts of my job that I enjoy the most and the ways I use creative thinking to help my clients. The process of developing my elevator pitch helped me develop good techniques for introducing myself to new people and gave me more confidence in networking.
Finding a mentor through the Developing Leaders program was so helpful for me at this early stage of my career, as well as opening up new avenues for learning and growing.
Out of all the wonderful aspects of the Developing Leaders program, I am most appreciative for the confidence it gave me to not limit myself and to be brave in chasing new opportunities. I am very lucky to have been a part of the program and to have connected with so many great people in the industry who are dedicated to my growth and career development.
I look forward to being a mentor in the program one day, so that I can make an impact on a rising professional’s life and career like my mentor and this program made on mine!
Megan Watson is an Associate Consultant with SLR Consulting and is based in Chicago, IL. Megan has a B.S. in Environmental Science and has been working in environmental consulting for 7 years. She has experience conducting Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments, as well as other site investigations, for commercial and industrial clients. Outside of work, Megan spends her time reading and biking, and going to the Chicago beaches in the summer.