Helping others help others

Photo of David Robinson and Deb North

September 24, 2019

When Deb North, a 31-year veteran in the College of Business, decided it was time for a career change, an opening in IPF seemed like a good fit.

“IPF really seems to foster the ‘team’ concept and the pursuit of service excellence; I like that,” said North, office assistant III in Custodial Services.

However, IPF is a massive and complex beast. Being a greenhorn here can be intimidating.

Enter the Buddy Program.

This initiative teams up seasoned IPF employees (mentors) with those just starting out to ease their transition and coach them on IPF’s culture, processes and services. It is a one-year commitment for both participants.

Learning and Development specialist David Robinson has served as a program mentor for the past two years.

“I became involved as a way to use my experience to help others achieve success while still adjusting to life at IPF,” said Robinson. “And since the mentor tends to learn just as much from the mentee, it was a great way to learn the perceptions of IPF from those who are coming in from other areas of campus.”

When North heard about the program, she was intrigued.

“I came from a long career in an academic area, and so coming to a place like IPF was challenging,” said North. “I really wanted to align myself with someone familiar with IPF operations.”

Robinson and North meet once or twice a month for an hour or so. They talk about working at IPF and even shadow other employees to learn more about the challenges they face every day.

“Seeing firsthand the complexities of others’ jobs has made me more understanding of the immense responsibilities they shoulder,” said North. “It helps me know how I can help them, and ultimately the customer.”

Their experience has them both recommend the program to others.

“It’s a win-win for both participants,” said Robinson. “And we really need more folks to serve as mentors.”