iGrow is a grassroots initiative created by employees, for employees at Philip Morris International. It started in 2020 in Neuchatel, a small town in Switzerland, with only a handful of local participants. Flashforward two years later, and the mentoring program has expanded around the world, to a truly international, global mentoring program.
iGrow is proud to have employees representing the entire spectrum of the professional cycle, from members of the senior management team, to mid-level management, and new people within the organization. From the genesis of iGrow, the philosophy has been to empower PMI colleagues from across the world, giving them an opportunity to hone their leadership skills, expand their network, and grow as individuals, supported by someone outside of their immediate team.
Driving a global grassroots mentoring program
iGrow is the first mentoring program of this nature to be entirely led by a group of volunteers. The idea was born out of the desire to connect and break down barriers by expanding professional networks across a company of more than 70,000 people. Since its inception, iGrow has been ultra-agile, operating as a start-up, and allowing us to quickly adapt by switching to a fully virtual program during the pandemic. The momentum quadrupled in size with the need for authentic relationships increasing around the world as people were locked inside their homes. iGrow took advantage of the new virtual landscape to connect colleagues from all corners of the world, bringing everyone onboard an exciting mentoring journey.
How mentoring can foster an inclusive workplace
A culture of mentoring drives inclusion. iGrow aims at breaking down silos by promoting cross-functional engagement, with the foundations of the program being built on a holistic vision of diversity and inclusion which plays out across cultures, titles, languages, and locations.
Mentoring across cultures provides a safe space to increase cultural competency, encouraging the practice of cross-culture communication, to learn to be mindful of our differences to better harness them to avoid misunderstandings, and take full advantage of the rich blend of passions, perspectives, and personalities that we all bring to the workplace.
Establishing a global network of mentors
iGrow has created dedicated events and learning opportunities for mentors by setting up a network of mentors from different experiences and job levels around the world, creating a safe place for open exchange, where first time mentors can ask for help. The value of this network is unimaginable, and the possibilities are endless.
Mentoring is more important than ever, as most employees are connecting via a computer screen, human-centric relationships will be put back at the forefront of business. Mentoring drives authenticity, psychological safety, and inclusion. We aim for the future of iGrow to become more agile, paving the way forward with a consumer-centric mindset, and meeting the needs of mentees and mentors from around the world.
With a community of participants from more than 65 countries, diversity is our superpower; the global iGrow program has only begun to unleash the power of mentoring…Watch this space!
Being a part of iGrow has allowed me to grow into the communicator I am today. I have been able to take risks, to step out of my comfort zone, and most of all, connect with people across the world, to discuss passionate topics around employee wellbeing, developing the leaders of tomorrow, and cross-cultural communication and engagement.
I strongly believe that iGrow is paving the way for future virtual global employee engagement programs, and I am honored to be part of this flagship mentoring program!
- Michelle Lagrave
Initiating a mentoring program from scratch was really rewarding. Psychologically supported by the needs of our employees to access a mentoring program, challenged by some stakeholders, sponsored by few key leaders, and working extra hours with a small team of volunteers fully engaged and motivated to push the cultural boundaries of our organization were the different ingredients for our success.
One of my best projects to co-lead and glad to see the unlimited evolution of this mentoring program for our colleagues.