Big Time Mentorship From The Big Apple

Written by: Brady Drake

Mentor-mentee relationships take all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Stephanie Schroeder’s particular mentor relationship with former New York Times executive Denise Warren actually started with an interview.

Stephanie Schroeder,

Chief Customer & Marketing Officer
Forum Communications Co.

Stephanie Schroeder’s Advice For Other Mentees

Take away your pride and do not get defensive when someone is telling you the things that you need to hear. If you’re truly going to get as much as possible out of a mentor-mentee relationship, you’re going to have to listen to some things you fear to be true about yourself. But sometimes you need to hear some of those things so you can improve upon them.

At the time she met Warren, Schroeder was coming off the heels of two years spent as the Vice President of Marketing for Discovery Benefits a WEX company. She was looking to switch careers and was applying for a position as Forum Communications Co.’s Chief Digital Marketing Officer and it just so happened that Warren was working with the Forum as a consultant to provide guidance and technical training in the company’s effort to pursue new initiatives. Because of this, Warren was highly involved in interviewing and selecting Schroeder for the position that would be most heavily involved in spearheading the company’s digital efforts.

“In the interview, there were a lot of things that stuck out to me about Stephanie,” Warren said. She was quite professional, quite buttoned-up and really poised. However, what really stood out to me about Stephanie, and why I really enjoy our mentorship relationship, is the fact that she is insatiably curious. She is really interested in learning and really interested in improving her skills and being the best in class. I saw that in the interview and I still see it to this day.”

“I was super intimidated when I met her,” Schroeder said. “I heard she used to work for the New York Times and that just brought up all sorts of feelings of impostor syndrome. But, I just kind of threw caution to the wind and the conversation went great.”

Denise Warren,

CEO & Founder
Netlyst, LLC

About Denise Warren

Denise Warren is the founder of her own consulting company, Netlyst, which focuses on catalyzing digital business growth and scaling consumer and enterprise recurring revenue streams. In her work with her own company and on the various boards she serves on, Warren utilizes a knowledge base that she has built through her extensive list of professional experiences that include more than 26 years spent at the New York Times, where she held roles such as Executive Vice President of Digital Products & Services, General Manager, Chief Advertising Officer, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and more. Since leaving the New York Times, Warren has helped over 15 newspapers throughout the country develop their online subscription platforms.

Schroeder was offered the position and started working with Warren on learning the technical skills necessary to build out a robust online presence at a media company—something Schroeder had no previous experience with.

“We hit it off really quickly,” Schroeder said.

Because they “hit it off” so well, and because the company saw such substantial professional growth from Schroeder, Forum Communications offered her the opportunity to work with Warren in a structured mentormentee relationship.

“Early on in the position, I would say I needed a lot of guidance,” Schroeder said. “I struggled a lot with confidence in my abilities to perform the role that I was in. I really struggled a lot with imposter syndrome and feeling like I was fooling people. She really helped me understand that every single person goes through that. One piece of advice she gave me that has really stuck with me is that the best leaders she’s ever met are those who are really great at embracing ambiguity. That has, sort of, become my mantra and I’ve become a lot more comfortable with not knowing all of the answers all the time.”

Part of what has made our mentoring sessions so successful is the effort that Stephanie puts in. She always has really good questions. If she doesn’t know something,she really does her homework and she gets up to speed. She really digs in.” – Denise Warren

According to Schroeder, the relationship with Warren has bettered her in just about every way possible— personally and professionally.

“I think I’ve grown more in this position than I have at any other point in my career,” Schroeder said.

Although Schroeder has been with Forum Communications for almost four years now. The pair still meets just about every other week and they still have a very strong relationship.

“I consider her a friend,” Schroeder said. “I sent her a Christmas gift and a little note in the mail. I truly appreciate all that she’s ever done for me personally and professionally.”

“I think we will always have a relationship, even beyond Forum Communications,” Warren said. “I think that’s the nature of good mentoring relationships—there’s that bond there and that bond should continue

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.