BestMentorsFountainBlue’s mentorship and coaching program works with growth-minded enterprises and start-ups to recruit, retain, advance and promote leadership and innovation. FountainBlue regularly works with start-ups through our advisory services, and with enterprises through our coaching, training and mentorship program development activities.

To become a corporate partner and participate in monthly programs and our annual mentorship awards event, e-mail us at


Friday, November 12, 2021

11:50 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

Third Annual Mentorship Best Practices Panel

Online Program, Hosted by Pure Storage

If you have a dedicated, hard-working, and intelligent staff at any level, Mentorship becomes THE difference-maker. Sure, education and experience matter, but Mentorship can frame that education and experience and make them into learning opportunities.

Sponsorship is important, but without Mentorship, it’s hard for the sponsor to make a business case.

Culture is important, but mentorship helps mentees (and mentors) succeed and even thrive in existing culture. Indeed, mentees and mentors can together even shape the culture so that more people benefit.

For our third annual mentorship best practices program, we will feature both mentors and mentees, and invite the full panel to share their best practices on:

  • Establishing a successful ongoing mentorship program
  • Problems-Solutions-Results delivered through mentorship
  • Raising the bar, delivering the value
  • Networking and Resources for Mentees and Mentors

A draft agenda is below. 

11:50  Panelist Check-in, Networking, IT Check 

12:00  Welcomes and Thank Yous (Linda)

12:02 Executive Introduction

  • Mentors roast Mentees
  • Mentees roast Mentors

12:08  Interactive Panelist Discussion (All)

  • Why are you each passionate about mentorship?
  • Who has helped you do what specifically through the mentorship relationship?

12:50  Questions from Facilitator and the Audience

12:55  Final Remarks and Close

1:00  Adjourn 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • with opening remarks by executive from Pure Storage


    • Ellen Lail, Regional Sales Director, Pure Storage OR Dena Sikes, Director, National Partners, Pure Storage
    • Sheryl Chamberlain,  Director Global Alliances, Board Chair of Empower, Coupa Software
    • Mentor from Lam Research to be confirmed
    • Mentor from Renesas to be confirmed
    • Mentor from Samsung to be confirmed
    • Mentor from Cisco to be confirmed


    • to be confirmed, based on mentor recommendations

Order your tickets online: $50 general admission 


Friday, November 6, 2020, 8:20 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. 
Second Annual Mentorship Best Practices Panel
Online Program, Hosted by Micron
Invitation details at tbd
For more information, visit 
Successful mentorship programs benefit not only the mentors and mentee involved, but also the team, the culture, the organization. For our second annual mentorship best practices program, we will feature both mentors and mentees, and invite the full panel to share their best practices on:
  • Establishing a successful ongoing mentorship program
  • Motivating mentors to participate
  • Problems-Solutions-Results delivered through mentorship
  • Networking and Resources for Mentees and Mentors
We will also invite each Mentor/Mentee to ‘roast’ her partner as we honor their successes together.
  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • with opening remarks by Buffie Main, Global Executive and Leadership Development Senior Program Manager, Micron
  • Mentors:
    • Amber Barber, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Global chairperson, Women in Global Operations ERG, Lam Research
    • Nancy Mason, Supply Chain Manager, NVIDIA
    • Gayathri Radhakrishnan, Director Venture Capital – AI Fund, Micron
    • Sandy Yu, Global Director, Product Strategy and Success, Oracle
  • Mentees:
    • Megan Cibula, Industrial Engineering Supervisor, Lam Research
    • Bambi Delarosa, Healthcare AI Principal Investigator and OHSU collaborator, Micron
    • Priyanka Kukade, Senior Design Verification Engineer, NVIDIA
    • Madeline Walsh, Senior Program Associate, Oracle Corporate Citizenship 
Order your tickets online: $50 general admission 


Order your tickets online: $50 general admission



First Annual Mentorship Awards Program

Thank you to those of you who were able to join our November 1 First Annual Mentorship Awards program, hosted by Lam Research.

This annual program is part of our When She Speaks monthly program, and includes our corporate partners and the larger FountainBlue community.

Friday, November 1, 2020, 11:30 1.m. – 1:00 p.m.

First Annual Mentorship Best Practices Panel

Lam Research, 4650 Cushing Pkwy, Fremont (Building 1)

If you have a dedicated, hard-working and intelligent employee, Mentorship becomes THE difference-maker. Sure, education and experience matter, but Mentorship can frame that education and experience and make them into learning opportunities.

Sponsorship is important, but without Mentorship, it’s hard for the sponsor to make a business case.

Culture is important, but mentorship helps mentees (and mentors) succeed and even thrive in existing culture. Indeed, mentees and mentors can together even shape the culture so that more people benefit. For this year’s first annual When She Speaks Mentorship Program, leaders from the FountainBlue community will shared  their best practices and advice in an interactive discussion. Please join me in congratulating FountainBlue’s 2019 Mentorship Honorees, .


  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Amber Barber, Sr. Manager Business Operations Management, Lam Research
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Panelist Christina Lewis, BU Controller/Director, Enterprise Finance, Western Digital
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks
  • Panelist Kavita Shah, Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, Nova Measuring Instruments

Thank you to Lam Research for hosting this launch event and to Erin Yeaman, Managing Director of HR, Lam Research for her introductory remarks and to Mike Snell, Vice President of Operations, Global Operations, Lam Research for his sponsorship, leadership and remarks. 

Below are notes from the conversation.

Our mentorship awardees this year had a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but each had much in common:

  • they each valued the input of the mentors from an early age and on an ongoing basis;
  • they worked with their companies to create a program which support dozens and even hundreds of men and women;
  • they each continued to mentor others as they themselves advanced in their careers;
  • they are each committed to continuing to mentor others, on top of their immense work responsibilities, community commitments, and the day-to-day joys and challenges of a busy family.

Our panelists agreed on the short term and long-term benefits of mentorship. Mentors can help solve current problems, but they can also help with longer-term gains building confidence, expanding perception, providing support, especially when times are tough.

There are many reasons to become a mentor. Not only is it personally satisfying, but also supports the professional development of mentees, but also the team and organization as a whole. Mentoring is a great way to give back – to your team, to your company, to your community, to the next generation. 

Below is a summary of mentorship best practices.

  • The mentoring relationship is a dynamic one – the needs of both mentors and mentees change over time. Clear communication from both sides help ensure productive interactions between mentees and mentors.
  • One goal from a mentorship relationship is to develop a ‘thicker skin’, so that the mentee is more resilient and confident even if an environment is less than ideal.
  • Mentors can successfully mirror behavior or attitude of the mentee, so that she/he can better understand how others are responding to them.
  • There are many different kinds of mentors and mentoring relationships. Just because you have a technical mentor doesn’t mean that you don’t also need a mentor to help navigate a new role, for example.
  • Mentors can help filter messages and information, so that you focus on what’s important and use your time most wisely.
  • Mentor people at all levels, not just those designated as ‘high-potential’. Even if the mentee never gets into management levels, that mentee would have more influence and more confidence in whichever level they’re in.
  • With that said, make sure that both mentors and mentees are willing participant. It doesn’t work to mandate a mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Have specific criteria if you’re matching mentors and mentees, and have direct communication to ensure that both parties continue to benefit from the connection.
  • Every speaker remarked on how important it was to develop our people, our relationships, and how mentorship is a critical tool to grow everyone at all levels at scale.

See bios and invitation at and notes at

Mentorship vs Sponsorship


Of course it’s not an either-or. You need BOTH great mentors and great sponsors to advance and succeed. We talked for the last two posts about mentors, and they are GREAT. Most people can’t advance without them. But based on my decades of direct and indirect experience, the TRUE differentiation is around sponsorship. 

Below are some reasons why I think that’s the case.

  1. Sponsors, by definition, have the influence, ability and power to nominate, vote for, and hire into key positions.
  2. Sponsors can be coaches and mentors as well, but they also have the ability to support the advancement into a higher level within an organization. Generally coaches and mentors are not also sponsors.
  3. Coaches and mentors might help someone shift into a new role, industry or level, but a sponsor helps others to offer new opportunities to hard-working, energetic and unproven people.
  4. Coaches are more likely to have received training on how to coach. Mentors are more likely more experienced and intentional in their mentorship goal. 
  5. Sponsors aren’t necessarily trained to be sponsors. And may not even realize they are sponsoring someone. They are focusing on solving a problem – connecting the right people to the right organization/problem set.
  6. Sponsors are more often likely focusing on higher-level problems, including proactively building a leadership pipeline, bringing in ideas and talent which would stretch business and technology edge cases, and facilitating collaboration across people, technologies, and teams.
  7. Sponsors, are generally more results- and business- focused rather than people-focused (although of course, they care about the person they’re sponsoring).
  8. Coaches and mentors touch people at all levels within an organization. Sponsors generally focus on advancing people into higher levels within the organization.
  9. Coaches, mentors and sponsors can each impact those early in their career, but coaches are more likely to help with current and short-term needs whereas sponsors are more likely to look at the longer-term needs of the new-hire as it overlaps with the longer term needs of the company. 
  10. In general, coaches and mentors look from the bottom up – helping the mentee/coached navigate the corporate challenges and opportunities from their own point of view. Sponsors however, help their sponsored employee take a longer-term, strategic, top-down approach about the needs of the company and the value they can bring to the table in the near-term and for the long-term.

Your mileage may vary. Your thoughts are welcome. E-mail us at Join us for our December 13, 2019 Second Annual ‘Men Who Open Doors’ panel discussion, featuring some outstanding male sponsors.

FountainBlue’s September 1, 2019 Blog: An Ode to Mentors, by Linda Holroyd  

Mentors come in many shapes and sizes, from many backgrounds, with different interests. But in my experience, the best mentors have some key qualities.

  1. All great mentors have the type of broad and deep experience, preferably in a range of products/services/industries/markets. This doesn’t mean that every experience that a mentor had was successful, just that there are learnings from every experience. Indeed a mentor can’t effectively share their suggestions and insights with wisdom. 
  2. Successful mentors generally have their own successes in business and in life. ‘Success’ is loosely defined, but suffice to say that the mentee must respect the mentor as ‘successful’ in ways which are important to him or her. Indeed, it would be difficult to respect a mentor unless the mentee respects the successful experience of that mentor.
  3. Mentors are viewed as ‘influential’ in specific ways, as defined by the mentee. The mentor might be influential for specific niches of people, or across broad groups of people, depending on the needs and interests of the mentee. 
  4. Although there have been good mentors who are less than humble, I find that those who are humble are more modest, more unassuming, more clear about their contributions and abilities, while also being more open to helping others also succeed.
  5. Most successful people, including successful mentors, are focused and goal-oriented. A great mentor knows how to make the mentee more focused and goal-oriented, while helping her or him keep an eye on the longer-term objectives, and helping him or her feel supported and balanced. 
  6. Great leaders have displayed perseverance and commitment, often overcoming extraordinary circumstances to achieve outrageous goals.  Great mentors help their mentees to do the same.
  7. Great mentors are principled, honorable and respectful leaders who teach others how to conduct themselves in the same manner.
  8. Great mentors are Self-Aware – they know their weaknesses and strengths and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses in others. They encourage and support others in being increasingly more self-aware.
  9. Great mentors make a point of including others in projects, successes and challenges. They know that added new and different perspectives will better benefit all participants.
  10. Great mentors are Life-time Learners who relish the opportunity to keep learning, and help mentees and others around them to embrace those learning opportunities as well.

Thank you to all great mentors who have touched me directly and indirectly. You helped me to better understand myself, and raised the bar so that I can be a better version of myself.



FountainBlue Oct 1, 2019 blog: ‘What the Best Mentors Teach Us‘, 

Last month’s post was an Ode to Mentors. None of us could be where we are without them. It celebrates who mentors are as people and why they are so inspiring and necessary for those around them.

This month, we will build on the topic, and discuss What the Best Mentors Teach Us. Again, these are my thoughts from decades as a mentor, mentee, and bystander. I’ve learned from the best, and even when they weren’t any good, I learned even more about what works for me and why.

I’ve organized my thoughts in three areas:

  • Personal qualities: versatility, resiliency, emotional intelligence, resourcefulness, ‘hungry’
  • Communication qualities: clarity and directness, empowerment, mediation/moderation
  • Network/Connection qualities: empowerment, grow and establish network/community

Your thoughts will vary, but I hope that this summary is thought-provoking.

Personal Qualities– 

1. Versatility – 

      • The best mentors teach us to be versatile, to adapt to different people, cultures, technologies, industries. 
        • The more you adopt an open and embracive mind set, the better you’ll understand others around you, the more likely you are to succeed on a grander scale.

2. Resiliency – 

      • The best mentors teach us that nothing worth having is easy, and also that the best lessons are often the hardest lessons. They help us pull ourselves up by our bootstraps especially when all seems lost. 
        • With a combination of humor, wisdom, strength, advice and connections, they help us pick ourselves up, shake ourselves off and ask ourselves, ‘What’s next?”

3. Emotional Intelligence – 

      • The best mentors help you understand what you’re feeling, what others are feeling, the reasons for these reactions, the motivations of yourself and others etc.,
        • Understanding your own emotions, and that of others will help you be more compassionate while also being more likely to produce better plans and better results.

4. Resourcefulness 

      • The best mentors help you be more creative, more flexible and more adaptable around problem-solving.
  • Seeing the problem from a larger and different point of view helps mentees better address opportunities and challenges.

5. Hungry (Lifelong Learners) –

      •  The best mentors know that life is a journey, not a destination. They teach us to ever reach higher and wider, never settling, never accepting complacency.
  • Going out of the comfort zone and embracing new learnings make life a more interesting, satisfying and entertaining journey.

Communication Abilities

6. Clarity and Directness (of Communication) – 

      • The best mentors help their mentees better understand their own communication styles, and that of others. They challenge us to be more clear, more precise, more inspiring, more diplomatic, more gracious, and more transparent in our communications.
        • There are so many ways to get communications wrong. Mentors help us head off communication traps while helping us better understand how we are coming across to others, and improving the results of our communication overall.

7. Empowerment 

      • The best mentors empower their mentees to solve their own problems, to reach for more than they think they can reach. This is not just a confidence builder, it also opens up a broader, larger view of possibilities for their mentees.
        • As mentors empower their mentees, they, in turn, often consciously or unconsciously empower others around them.  

8. Mediation and Moderation – 

      • The best mentors help us better understand conflict and the motivations of all parties. 
        • They may teach us how to better mediate between parties, how to moderate responses between extreme points of view, and even how to improve the chances of collaboration and consensus.

Network and Community

9. Network – 

    • The best mentors know how to grow their network, and support mentees in growing theirs. 
      • Having a broad and deep network is key to all the other qualities taught by great mentors.

10. Community –

    • The best mentors help their mentees connect with the people closest to them, and also to the community around them. 
      • The challenge and joy of building close relationships and community helps us all feel fulfilled, challenged, accepted, and understood.