Female Mentors: Heather Nykolaychuk Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite
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Female Mentors: Heather Nykolaychuk Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Female Mentors: Heather Nykolaychuk Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Name: Heather Nykolaychuk

Title: President 

Company: Budget Blinds

Years in Franchising: 4

Number of units: About 1,500

Can you describe the role mentoring has played in your career? I have used mentors at every step of my career as well as in my personal life. I have built a pool of mentors—or what I call a board of directors—that I can call on individually depending on what it is that I am working through. I am grateful to have a diverse group of mentors who have a wide range of skill sets and advice to provide around the difficult aspects of leadership. For example, if there is a business problem where I’m trying to align two parties who are finding tension with each other, or I am having trouble finding a good work-life balance, I can call on certain peers of mine to get advice from different perspectives.

Why is mentoring important for female franchise leaders? Mentoring is important for any sort of leader but for females especially. In the franchising world, there are still a lot of franchises that are led by men, and it is important to be able to have someone who understands you and can counsel you. 

What are the key elements of a good mentoring relationship? You have a mentee who is willing to do the work and a mentor who is equipped to put in the time to make it work. Those two things are super important.

What are the benefits of mentoring programs for female leaders looking to advance their careers? Sometimes, you don’t necessarily know whom to go to. By having programs in place, it gives you lists of people who are willing to mentor and what their specialties are. It takes away the fear of approaching someone about becoming a mentor. As you move up in title and level, sometimes people forget you are human, and they have this fear of approaching you, so these programs can help connect mentees with leaders who have similar interests and skill sets.

What should the mentoring process include? Key components of the mentoring process include clear goal setting, scheduling regular meetings, providing feedback and evaluation, and developing a trusting relationship. Most importantly, to build a strong relationship, the mentee and mentor need to be compatible and like-minded.

How is a mentor different than a coach? To me, mentoring is a long-term relationship where you have a mentor guiding a mentee through various aspects of their professional and personal life. Alternatively, a coach is a short-term engagement that is more task or skill focused.

What role did mentoring play in your path to the C-suite? Mentors throughout my life have helped me in building confidence and finding a voice. They’ve helped me find my superpowers and be proud of them. Mentors have also worked with me on developing a strategic mindset and have prepared me to be a thoughtful leader.

How has what you learned from a mentor helped you navigate difficult career challenges? After 17 years of working at Mattel, I decided it was time to leave because I wanted to work somewhere closer to where I live and be a bigger part of my family’s life. As I searched for a supportive and stable culture in a workplace, my mentors helped me dig deep to identify my real needs. By meeting with mentors regularly, I was able to find a place where I’m thriving.

How did mentoring help you in other business relationships? Mentoring opens up avenues to network and meet different types of leaders throughout my industry as well as in my community.

In what ways has mentoring helped you build confidence in your decision-making? Mentoring has provided a safe space to learn from my mistakes with constructive feedback in a supportive environment. It has helped me to become more confident and understand the long-term effects of my decisions.

In what ways has mentoring helped you set goals and achieve objectives? It’s helped me achieve goals by providing guidance, accountability, feedback, and ongoing support.

What were the three most important things you learned from mentoring? 1) Finding my superpowers and being proud of them; 2) becoming a thoughtful leader; and 3) having confidence in decision-making.

How can mentoring help the next generation of women on their path to the C-suite? Mentoring helps to address specific challenges, provides guidance, and creates a supportive network for professional growth. It empowers women to gain the confidence to break through barriers and succeed as leaders.

What advice do you have for female executives considering mentoring? Embrace the role of being a mentor and recognize the value that you’re bringing to someone, set clear expectations on the relationship and how it will work, and create a safe and trusting environment for that to take place. Just do it. Nothing shapes the future of our C-suite more than mentoring.

Published: April 29th, 2024

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