In this interview with Corporate Counsel Business Journal, Stacie LeGrow, VP and Deputy GC for Americas Sales with Cisco, and Tracy Wright, principal corporate counsel with Cisco, discuss the evolution of their working relationship, and insights they have drawn regarding talent development, mentoring and sponsorship.

“Stacie might not remember this,” Wright begins, “but during our first meeting she said to me, ‘Are you interested in technology?’ And while I had more of a healthcare-leaning focus at the time, I was also smart enough to know that if a lawyer at a leading technology company was asking, my first answer had to be yes, and then I would just have to do my diligence after.” And she did her diligence, including diving into contracts, which would be valuable as she laid the groundwork for getting hired by Cisco. “This is not an overnight story because I did not work at Cisco till many years later, but I credit Stacie with preparing me for the opportunity and opening that door,” LeGrow says. Wright also singled out LeGrow’s approach to feedback. “Stacie is not afraid to give transparent feedback,” she says. “I need to know my weaknesses because that’s how I grow, so I do appreciate that she’s created that comfortable space for me to get her true opinion on things.” LeGrow knows, however, that not all lawyers can handle feedback as well Wright. “On the other hand,” she says “I’ve never had to give her much feedback. I knew Cisco was going to stretch her because her background was in compliance, and she hadn’t done a lot of commercial technology work. When I put her on one of our biggest accounts, I knew she would put in the sweat equity to get up to speed.” What about mentorship and sponsorship and the role each plays in professional development? “It’s really the mentee’s job to stay in touch with their mentor,” Wright says. “The mentor must be willing to continue the relationship, but the mentee is the driver of that relationship.” “I wasn’t Tracy’s only mentor, and now that she’s in my reporting line, I’m not really her mentor as much as I am her sponsor,” says LeGrow. “I think that’s also a great message for your readers, and particularly law students. It’s important to have more than one mentor because they can help you with different things that you’re struggling with. I might not be able to help Tracy as a woman of color because I don’t have the same experience. We talk about inclusion and diversity issues all the time, and Tracy’s educated me on her experiences, but sometimes you need more than one mentor and that’s an example why.” Read more at CCBJ.