Sarah Hovinga and Denise Manker

Meaningful Mentorships with Purpose

Mentors help us see not only who we are and what we’re good at, but who we might become.

Growing up, we learn from parents, teachers and coaches who try to guide us and teach us. After joining the workforce, we often seek guidance from other trusted resources to help us grow. Mentors help us see not only who we are and what we’re good at, but who we might become. A mentor’s purpose is not to define the path but to instill confidence and provide support for the mentee as they grow in professional and personal life. Here we share our thoughts on how mentorship has impacted us personally:

Denise Manker: I took on the role of supervisor and mentor when Sarah took a job working in a completely new field. Sarah had great “can-do” spirit and I was enthusiastic about having her join my team.

Sarah Hovinga: Honestly, the encouragement and camaraderie derived from strong mentor relationships like the one I have with Denise has been essential to my success at Bayer. These bonds enabled me to step outside my comfort zones and assume new responsibilities I never envisioned earlier in my career.

Denise: I believe mentors can help hone strengths and build the professional toolbox, providing the confidence to present new ideas and scientific approaches knowing they would be welcomed and respected.

Sarah Hovinga
Sarah Hovinga
Sarah Hovinga,
Senior Scientist, Biologics Project and Product Support, Disease Management, Bayer Division Crop Science

Sarah: With Denise’s support and coaching I was able to embrace my new role and confidently communicate and represent Bayer technologies, fostering acceptance in critical markets across the globe. Ultimately, sharing experiences, offering perspectives, and caring deeply about one another both personally and professionally has made the important scientific work we do even more meaningful.

Throughout my career, I have looked to mentors, both men and women, for guidance and support as I learn and grow as a person. Mentorship, like other strong interpersonal relationships, is a journey where people can find great meaning through shared perspectives and collective experience. For example, I have connected with women that I’ve admired at Bayer inside and outside the R&D function. They’ve been willing to be sounding boards or offer advice especially on things women struggle with. There is such a sense of empathy, commonalty, and understanding of the unique challenges women experience in balancing work and home life.

Denise: In addition to forming these formal or informal relationships with other women, I believe in allowing as much flexibility as possible in working styles, leading to more balanced, incredibly productive and happier colleagues. As you advance in your career by taking on more responsibility or stepping into roles with more travel involved, it can be overwhelming to navigate. But knowing you have someone on your side that wants to help you thrive makes all the difference some days. We never want anyone to feel like they must choose between success at work and success at home – we need that LIFE balance!

Denise Manker
Denise Manker
Denise C. Manker,
Ph.D., Technical Product Support, Biologics Research at Bayer Division Crop Science

For us what started out as a direct report-manager dynamic, evolved into a strong mentor/mentee relationship and a lifelong friendship. We’ve learned so much from each other and have grown not only as team members, scientists, and leaders but as women. Our greatest goal now is to be able to pay it forward so others can enjoy the same benefit.

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