Tracy George, MD, knows the power of a great mentor. George, a professor of pathology at the University of Utah and the president and chief scientific officer of ARUP Laboratories, might have taken a different career path if it weren’t for a mentor. Just as her mentor helped her, she guides other women along their career paths.
George’s mentorship story began during her undergraduate program. That’s when she got to know Susan Atwater, a pathologist. Atwater invited her to do a medical rotation with her when she started medical school. George accepted, and it ultimately led to her recognizing her dream career in pathology.
That experience made her a firm believer in mentorship programs. “It’s important to see people who look like you,” George said. “Having female mentors, and being able to see yourself in a role, is important.” She recognized this when, as one of only two girls in her high school precalculus class, she had difficulty believing math was for her. However, this changed when she went to college and realized other women were interested in math and science.
For anyone wondering how to find a mentor, George says all you have to do is ask. She’s always waiting for someone to approach her about being a mentor. While it adds some to her already busy schedule, she learns a lot from the experience and knows it is worth her time, especially if it boosts women in the workforce.
For George, it is not just about helping women; it’s about bettering the workplace. It requires greater diversity, which includes more female representation. “If you have an idea and have multiple people working on it, the more diverse viewpoints you have, the better the outcome,” she adds. That’s why she’s proud of the work culture ARUP created. The company recognizes and recruits the best people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Judging people based on their skills naturally leads to a more diverse group. A diverse group of people leads to diverse ideas, and diversity of ideas gives you various solutions.
For women starting or looking to advance their careers, she recommends trying to become the person you want to be for the position. Sometimes that requires gaining new skills, returning to school, getting additional training, or finding a mentor. “Most importantly, go and ask,” George said. “You may get a yes, you may get a no, or you may get advice on how to better qualify for the job. No matter the outcome, speak up and don’t hold yourself back.”