HR Tech Interview With Alison Martin, Founder and Managing Director at Engage Mentoring

Journey into Tech

Hi Alison and welcome to HRTech Interview Series. Please share something about your journey and what inspired you to start Engage Mentoring.

Thanks for asking. As I share in my book, “Learning to Lead Through Mentoring.” I had a very challenged background and upbringing and much of the success I have had in my life and career journey can be attributed to mentors – people who saw my leadership potential and poured into me developmentally.  I know first-hand the power of great mentoring and I am also passionate about access to those relationships and teaching people how to cultivate mentoring relationships intentionally.

This led to the creation of a software platform with a built in curriculum that allows companies of all sizes to offer a structured mentoring program to their employees to really transform their cultures and ensure employees at all levels are supported, developed, and see a path. Mentoring is such a powerful and efficient way of developing the skills of your workforce if done correctly and we are on a mission to normalize this offering in companies of all sizes – not just the Fortune 500 companies.

What are the key challenges organizations face when it comes to mentorship in the workplace?

Mentoring sounds so simple and yet many organizations face significant barriers to putting one together.  Some of the key challenges include a lack of available mentors, figuring out how to match and schedule participants, training, and measuring success.

The biggest challenge is actually scalability. On a small scale, companies will try to match using an Excel spreadsheet, but find the outcomes are minimal and the model of someone else doing the matching often doesn’t take into account the true developmental needs of the mentee. We have met clients who had a 20 person mentoring program and it was practically someone’s full time job. Mentoring should be available to ALL employees – not just a select few. This manual approach to mentoring simply isn’t scalable.

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Mentoring and learning industry has changed drastically after Pandemic. How can companies help their employee upskill their talent through mentorship?

Truer words were never spoken. With so many workers now largely working remotely, we no longer have the luxury of many of the forms of learning we have deployed in the past.  In addition, many mentoring programs are not centered around specific learning outcomes for the mentee and are instead focused on the relationship between mentor and mentee and determining success based on whether they got along and a personal relationship developed.

Mentoring can be an incredibly powerful tool for upskilling employees by matching mentors and mentees based on the topics or skills the mentee is working to develop.  This type of mentoring can produce real, measurable outcomes and skills-based mentoring is a highly efficient form of learning and perhaps the best way to meet each employee where they are in terms of skill development.

How is Engage Mentoring different from other mentoring platforms? What are your core offerings?

Great question!  We are really proud of our software platform and that we have an NPS (net promoter score) of 75 in an industry where the average is 36 and we have over 90% engagement with our platform, with many of our clients boasting 100% engagement.

We are also the only software platform that has a mentoring training and certification built into the tool.  We are the only software with the option for external mentoring.  We are the only software that is scalable and has the ability to work with companies of all sizes.  Finally, we are the only software company that fully administers the program for the client, which means we handle all of the “human” aspects of a mentoring program in addition to the technical ones.

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How can combine DEI and mentorship help companies?

So many companies recognize the importance of a diverse workforce but overlook the role that a formalized mentoring program can play in really moving the needle toward real outcomes.  When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, access to mentoring relationships is not just a “nice to have”, but instead is absolutely needed. The real opportunity is to offer a mentoring program as a part of the strategies for making sure all employees feel supported, developed, and included.

Employees today are asking different questions.  They are looking for development opportunities and they are hungry for feedback and perspective.  A mentoring program is such a powerful way to attract new employees and to build a culture where everyone has access to mentors and that employees at all levels know how to pour into others and have a way to spot the nextgen talent by really getting to know them.

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Why should business leaders take imperative steps toward mentoring their employees? 

Mentoring done well can actually solve many of the challenges facing businesses today, including succession planning, efficient skill development, knowledge transfer, diversity, equity, and inclusion, talent attraction, improving communication, removing barriers and silos, helping leaders spot talent, and building leadership capacity at all levels. The question is not why should business leaders take steps towards mentoring employees, but instead what are you waiting for?  A formalized mentoring program should be part of every company’s talent strategy.

Thank you, Alison! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.

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Alison Martin is the Founder and Managing Director of Engage Mentoring, a software-enabled leadership development program that helps companies attract, retain, and develop their talent through strategic mentoring initiatives.

With impressive background work and roughly 20 years in nonprofit, beginning with four years working in higher education and on to Executive Director at two different health-related nonprofit organizations, Alison’s passion for developing talent led her to start a consulting firm in 2011. Her work consulting with large associations, nonprofits, and companies to construct mentoring programs led to the development of Engage Mentoring in 2019. Engage Mentoring provides an enablement for a mentoring and leadership program for companies and individuals to access mentoring on topics of their choosing, while impacting the next generation of talent by providing a mentoring program to college students through partnerships with nonprofits and universities.

She has two children and volunteers for Girls Inc and serves on the board for Purposeful Women Inc, a nonprofit that provides coaching, mentoring, and support for women. She was nominated for Indianapolis Best and Brightest in 2013 and was recognized with the Indiana Commission for Women’s Torchbearer award in 2014. She is the author of the book, “Learning to Lead Through Mentoring”, published first in 2013 and re-released in 2016, which outlines the 8 lessons one must consider before pursuing a mentoring relationship.

Engage Mentoring’s mission is to transform cultures by leveraging software that provides access to meaningful relationships. We work with companies of all sizes and now offer leadership forums for professionals who work in the human resources and diversity space.

Engage MentoringHR Tech Interviewknowledge transfermentoring relationshipsSkill Developmenttalent attractionUpskilling