Making the Connection

Mentors, sponsors, and a network you can count on

my own by giving the chairman a somewhat tongue — in — cheek performance evaluation relative to the evaluation techniques that GE uses for every employee.” The introduction was a resounding success and earned accolades from her colleagues and Immelt himself. It also put her on the chairman’s radar.

At the time she was general counsel for one of the GE equipment services businesses and had been working for the company for 11 years. The symposium served to provide opportunities for Bradley — Coar to gain greater visibility in the organization and broaden her network of contacts.

“It was great exposure for me,” she says, owing the opportunity to her mentor, Paula Madison, president and general manager of KNBC in Los Angeles, a GE subsidiary. As part of the committee to choose the introductory speaker, Madison felt her mentee was the perfect choice. “Alfreda is an extremely intelligent and very capable young woman whose career is definitely on an upward swing, and her delivery of the introduction is proof of that,” offers Madison. “In fact, it was one of the best introductions of him that I’ve ever heard. For her to be able to pull out aspects of his career, highlight and put them together in a way that was informative and witty, that’s an outstanding skill.”

Madison, 54, first began mentoring the rising attorney in 2003, while both were participants in AAF. Madison says every year through the program, senior executives mentor “high — potential managers and employees who are on their way to the next level.” Bradley — Coar was clearly on the fast track. Through the program, Madison was assigned to be the young exec’s mentor.

“Alfreda is an attorney so she has skill sets that I couldn’t begin to have,” says Madison, who is also regional manager of NBC Telemundo, Los Angeles regional stations KVEA and KWHY, and NBC Universal’s executive vice president for diversity. “But part of my thrill in being assigned to mentor her is that, although I’m in a completely different business, I felt as though with my 17 years of experience inside NBC and GE I could give her some insight into different career choices and businesses.”

Bradley — Coar says her mentor has always been just a phone call away. Although GE’s mentoring program suggested that mentors change mentees every two years, the two continue their mentoring relationship outside of the formal program, calling each other whenever advice or an understanding ear is needed.

“Seeing people rise to the level of president and CEO gives me great satisfaction,” Madison says. “Plus knowing that there are African Americans in the business world who are shining examples of what can happen if only we are given a chance — that’s the joy

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