Female Mentors: Kim Falk Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite
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Female Mentors: Kim Falk Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Female Mentors: Kim Falk Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Name: Kim Falk

Title: Vice President of Franchise Development and Multi-Unit Franchise Owner

Company: Beans & Brews Coffee House and Scenthound

Years in Franchising: 18

Number of Units: The Beans & Brews Coffee House chain has 74 locations. As a multi-unit Scenthound franchisee, I have 3 locations open and 2 more on the horizon.

Can you describe the role mentoring has played in your career? Mentoring helped me move to the next level in my career. From a young age, my passion for assisting others has been a guiding force in my life. As I embarked on my career journey, initially focusing on educating and mentoring children, my innate leadership qualities naturally emerged. Facilitating the growth of others in their professional pursuits has always been a priority for me. During my career in franchising, I connected with top-notch individuals, cultivating meaningful relationships. Now, whenever I encounter challenges, I am fortunate to have a network of trusted individuals whom I can reach out to for invaluable guidance.

Why is mentoring important for female franchise leaders? Mentoring is important for anyone, especially the younger generation entering franchising. While the landscape is changing, and more women are in leadership and C-suite roles, there are still times when women are not considered for certain roles or offered a lower compensation package. The key to winning the highest roles comes down to knowledge. Not only do you need to know and understand content, practices, and processes, you need to know the right people. Developing self-confidence and trust in your creative abilities is pivotal in obtaining your career aspirations. Effective mentors help hone the skills that foster trust and success.

What are the key elements of a good mentoring relationship? Trust and openness serve as the backbone of any mentoring relationship. Too many times, people want to withhold information for fear they could become irrelevant or not needed. Unfortunately, I've also observed instances where a leader harbors a hidden agenda, often stemming from insecurity.

What are the benefits of mentoring programs for female leaders looking to advance their careers? Although mentoring programs can help promote women into leadership roles on a broader scale, individual mentoring relationships offer greater advantages. They have a personal connection and engage in more in-depth discussions. Additionally, one-on-one relationships allow for periodic reassessment of career paths and opportunities along the journey.

What should the mentoring process include? Mentoring should include regular check-in meetings. Communication is key. Keep in mind that your mentor will most likely become your colleague over time, and your mentors will change. As you grow in your knowledge and positions, you may need to seek out someone new to help you reach the next level.

How is a mentor different from a coach? A mentor is more than a coach in so many ways. A mentor will teach, train, and empower like a coach. But they also make introductions and connections to help you achieve success.

What role did mentoring play in your path to the C-suite? Coming from an unrelated industry, I was a bit intimidated during my first year as I attended trade shows and franchise conferences. Once I realized success as a rookie sales manager, I gained the confidence to seek out some of the most accomplished females and learn from their successes and setbacks. I learned best practices and eventually built my “franchise family.” My very first brand leader tried to turn me down for a job because I lacked experience. After proving my worth at the brand, he has become a sounding board throughout my career. Years later, he introduced me to Beans & Brews Coffee House, where I currently hold an executive development position.

How has what you learned from a mentor helped you navigate difficult career challenges? Funny you should ask. It wasn’t long ago that I approached one of the most successful and respected executives in franchising for a suggestion on leadership. He took the time at a franchise conference to discuss the situation and offer some advice, and he followed up with a phone call afterward to ensure I had talking points. True mentors lean in. I had a boost in confidence to take the leap. To hear the words, “You’ve already got this,” made all the difference.

How did mentoring help you in other business relationships? I’ve consulted many brands. People see me as a source of knowledge who is willing to help other people and brands prosper.

In what ways has mentoring helped you build confidence in your decision-making? If other brands and leaders are calling on me for answers, I must be doing something right. There are times in my career when I have been presented with opportunities that involve some level of risk. Having a mentor helped me take on those risks with confidence.

In what ways has mentoring helped you set goals and achieve objectives? I am competitive by nature. Along with my competitiveness comes a willingness to continue to strive for a new goal or target. Seeing others succeed fuels the fire within me to grow, achieve, and do more. My mentors make me better and help me get there. I certainly don’t want to let them down.

What were the three most important things you learned from mentoring? 1) Mentoring introduced me to best practices; 2) it helped me build my confidence; and 3) it opened doors to some very talented and successful people who are now part of my network.

How can mentoring help the next generation of women on their path to the C-suite? It’s so important for women who want to move up the ladder to have mentors who’ve already done it! I make sure that the people I mentor learn from my successes and shortcomings. It better prepares them for their next step and propels their career forward. Finding two to three great mentors can shape a person’s success and build the confidence they need to succeed. When looking for mentors, find influential people with different business disciplines. If you want to be a leader in development, you should seek out a few mentors from marketing and operations. A deep understanding of other roles in the franchise model will help you be a better fit for any organization—and grow. Think of it as creating your own board of directors. They can help guide you in important decisions. They hold different viewpoints and experiences. They can provide perspectives that you may not see. Be sure to thank your mentor for their guidance and time. Gratitude goes a long way. And you never know when you might need them again.

What advice do you have for female executives considering mentoring? Success means more when it’s shared. Guiding and teaching others is rewarding. Broaden your scope and open yourself up to mentoring. You won’t be sorry!

Published: April 8th, 2024

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