Motivating Mentorship Match

By Tiffany M. Grant

Facilities Services’s (FS) mentorship program was implemented three years ago and it’s paying off. Over the course of a year, employees with deeper experience are connected to mentees to provide support in personal and professional development. Employees can apply to participate in the program as a mentor or mentee. The human resources team matches mentors with mentees based on their interests. An unlikely yet perfect match was made during this cohort when Manager, Client Services, Matthew Curtin was assigned to mentor Assistant Manager, South Zone, Troy Gray.

After being paired and meeting a few times, they came to the realization that though they have different backgrounds, they have much in common when it comes to giving back and sharing work responsibilities. Gray who grew up near UChicago as a kid used to play on campus grounds but had no idea it was the University of Chicago and that one day he would gain employment at the institution. Curtin on the other hand, grew up on the West Coast in Oregon. Prior to coming to UChicago, he spent eight years in Facilities Services at the University of California San Francisco. In a spirit of inclusion and belonging, both were open and willing to learn and grow which makes this a victory. During one of their monthly mentoring meetings, Gray shared what he does for the University, and Curtin thought to himself, “Wow, he does so much.” He saw beyond what Gray shared and realized how their work, like communicating with campus clients about ongoing projects intersected. He wanted to help Gray who works in the Operations unit get to a comfortable place talking about himself and the volume of work he performs. Curtin who works in the Capital Project Delivery unit invited Gray to the unit’s staff meeting to introduce himself and highlight his work.

Troy Gray and Matthew Curtin accompanied by the FS Finance and Business Services team
Troy Gray and Matthew Curtin accompanied by the FS Finance and Business Services Team

Gray came to the meeting and did just that. He let everyone know who he is and what he does. While that was good, Curtin pushed Gray to enhance his presentation skills. He tasked Gray with creating a PowerPoint presentation and presenting it to the remaining two FS units - Finance and Business Services and Campus Planning and Sustainability. Gray did his homework, and said if he’s ever going to do it, he simply must “jump in.” Although nervous, he was not alone. His mentor, Curtin, provided guidance and advice every step of the way letting Gray know the importance of presenting himself well. Again, some of Gray’s work was determined to be cross-functional within the other units, like the utilization of MEP drawings and work orders in Maximo.

Polishing his presentation was not the only assignment, Curtin gave Gray. He also recommended he read one of his favorite books that Curtin has been known to share with staff in the past, “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum. In the book, Fulghum writes, “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.” This is essentially the message of the mentorship program – looking out for each other and sticking together! Curtin sums it up by stating, “The more we are looked to as an example, the better an example we will be.”

Gray has been an FS team member since 2005 and held several positions. In his current role, he helps maintain 83 buildings in the south zone of the Hyde Park campus. Once a kid unaware of his playground, Gray is now very familiar with the lay of the land and starts his early morning workdays walking through the quads making observations for anything out of place that requires attention. Participating in the mentorship program has been extremely beneficial to Gray. He stated, “He doesn’t have to learn things on his own,” because Curtin has a wealth of knowledge concerning the campus. In pouring into his mentee, Curtin advises in this business of providing service, “Be mindful of the service you’re giving to yourself.”

How Do I?

UChicagoSocial: Facilities Services