Spotlight on Mentoring with Dragonfli Group LLC & United Healthcare Group
Mentee: Dragonfli Group LLC, Glenn Ballard, Founder, President, and CEO, certified DOBE and LGBTE.
Mentor: UnitedHealth Group (UHG), Titus Martin, Associate Director Supplier Diversity
Website: www.unitedhealthgroup.com, https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/suppliers/supplier-registration/supplier-diversity.html
Kathleen Castore, Disability:IN Supplier Mentoring & Development Consultant, has a visit with Dragonfli Group LLC and UnitedHealth Group on their experience with the DOBE Mentoring Program. When we talk about a match made in heaven, these two have certainly made a great connection. I am so excited to hear what they have to say.
KC: Hello Glenn, tell us your story – how/why did you begin your journey as an entrepreneur?
GB: Prior to founding Dragonfli, I managed a cybersecurity consulting division of a large professional services firm and was an architect of an industry-shaping Cybersecurity Presidential Directive.
In many ways, my journey to become an entrepreneur parallels my journey with living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). In the cybersecurity industry, as in managing T1D, there is no one size fits all approach and organizations need personalized plans and tools for assessing and managing their security risks. I’ve always had that entrepreneurial approach when it comes to T1D management, using my computer engineering background to develop my own artificial pancreas well before they were commercially available. Ten to Fifteen ago, so many of the approaches in both the cybersecurity field and the diabetes field were cookie-cutter and didn’t challenge the way the industry operated. I’ve taken that confidence in challenging the norms in starting my own company which now serves dozens of clients across the public and private sector, including critical infrastructure which is at the forefront of our national security. Colleagues and friends have joked with me that I was a disruptor before it was even a buzzword!
KC: How long have you been a certified DOBE? Why has being a Disability:IN DOBE certified company been an important part of your business journey?
GB: We have been a certified DOBE for 5 years and I honestly had no idea the ways in which Dragonfli would benefit from being a DOBE. It has opened doors, created educational and networking opportunities, and helped to shape our company culture in ways that reward both Dragonfli and our clients and promote a more diverse community of expertise. Since becoming a DOBE, we put a renewed focus on ensuring that we had a diverse range of people and perspectives represented at Dragonfli Group which has proven to be our strongest asset as the cybersecurity industry evolves so quickly.
KC: Why did you join the mentoring program and how has it helped with your business objectives?
GB: Mentor programs are a great way to gain different, fresh perspectives from experts who have “been there” and can share lessons learned from successes and failures. The mentoring program has helped turn some of our ideas into action by helping us navigate the challenging course of talent recruitment in a very competitive market. There is a zero-percent unemployment rate in cybersecurity and the opportunities in this field are endless.
That said, our team also wanted to identify ways to reach underrepresented communities in the cybersecurity world to support vocational training on network fundamentals and the framework of offensive and defensive approaches. Our team members will mentor these individuals and this opportunity will ultimately provide these mentees with a pathway to a rewarding career that otherwise may not have been afforded to them. At Dragonfli Group, we work hard to ensure that we are giving back to our community while advancing the innovations within the cybersecurity industry. I’d say this initiative is more than meeting that objective.
KC: What has been your experience with Titus and UnitedHealth Group’s project team during the mentoring program?
GB: Titus and his team have been incredible to work with! From day one, they truly made it a partnership of ideas and approach and have provided invaluable guidance to us. UnitedHealth Group has a principle-centered culture of integrity, compassion, relationships, innovation, and performance that is clearly reflected in the way that they operate and ultimately the results they deliver. We’ve taken many of those lessons and begun to fold those into our own corporate culture.
I’d also add here that another virtue of having such a talented mentor team, is that we have had a multitude of new ideas come out of our weekly working sessions. The UHG team have been integral in not only shaping the current scope of our project work, but also helping us shape future scope for follow-on projects that we will do.
KC: I know you are working on very specific goal/project, what does this entail and how have you been going about it?
GB: We needed assistance in creating a new outreach and recruitment program including one that can reach underserved populations. We also simultaneously want to engage current employees to assist in their upskilling and professional development. The mentor team at UHG has been incredibly helpful in working with us to identify practical solutions that expand our team’s versatility and expertise while considering the unique components of this industry.
We meet weekly to assess workstreams and determine next steps. Every member has been very hands-on and has truly made us feel as though they we are an extension of their team.
KC: What advice would you give the incoming class of mentees that might help them get the most out of the DOBE Mentoring Program?
GB: It’s helpful to spend time before that first meeting honing in on a few key areas that you either have a specific challenge in or have identified as an opportunity for growth. For us, being a small business, we have no shortage of either, but it is helpful to do a discovery call with your mentor team to exchange input about how your mentor’s skills can best align with the areas you need assistance with.
KC: Is there anything you would like to talk about regarding Disability:IN, as well as, the value of mentoring, etc…final words-this is optional and feel free to change the questions?
GB: Thank you, Kathleen, for such thoughtful questions and for all that you and Disability: IN do to promote your vision of an inclusive global economy where people with disabilities can fully and meaningfully participate. Dragonfli Group is grateful and humbled to be a part of such an impactful organization.
KC: Thank you Glenn for your input, also we are grateful to have had you as one of our webinar presenters this year on “Another Day at the Breach” which was an exclusive insightful session for our DOBE mentoring program participants.
KC: Good afternoon Titus, I know you have been a mentor with other organizations, how does it differ working with DOBEs and the Disability:IN Supplier Diversity Program?
TM: UnitedHealth Group appreciates the opportunity to partner with Disability:IN to support this mentoring relationship. We believe your organization has created a mentoring initiative that greatly aligns with the capacity building efforts that corporations like UnitedHealth Group seek to provide diverse businesses.
KC: What has you mentoring experience been like and why is Glenn and the Dragonfli Group an example of an engaged and committed mentee?
TM: Our experience with Dragonfli Group has been great. Glen and his team have such a passion for their business and a positive attitude that began in our first meeting and has been consistent throughout the program.
KC: Is there a “secret sauce” to your relationship with Glenn and the Dragonfli team? If so, can you share with us so we can all learn from you!
TM: Yes, we believe the “secret sauce” can be attributed to the willingness of Glenn and his team to leave their egos at the door and remain open to embrace the recommendations from our project team of experts. This project team brings a wealth of experience from UHG business segments across the globe.
KC: As a Corporate member of Disability:IN, why do you feel it is so significant to UnitedHealth Group businesses to be involved with the DOBE community?
TM: We always look for opportunities to impact diverse businesses and provide a positive experience that can help effect their bottom lines in a meaningful way. This mentoring program gives UHG the opportunity to equip diverse businesses with the tools and guidance needed to grow and expand their business.
KC: How has being a mentor in the Disability:IN Mentoring Program helped you develop on a personal and/or professional level?
TM: Being a mentor has been very rewarding. It has allowed me to provide guidance to diverse businesses in areas where they would normally have to pay thousands of dollars to an outside consulting firm to obtain similar knowledge.
KC: Would you share with potential first-time mentors why they should consider volunteering to become one?
TM: We would encourage any corporation that has the ability to provide mentoring services to a diverse business, to take the next step and get involved in the Disability:IN mentoring program. I would also recommend corporations be honest with themselves and identify the types of support they can offer and to (only) focus on those areas. It’s not the quantity of things offered by a corporation but the quality of what can be achieved, that will have a lasting impact with diverse businesses.
KC: Any other thoughts to add on Glenn, the mentoring program, personal development, comments in general, your call…
TM: Glenn, has been a constant professional and his team has been fantastic to partner with during this program. We look forward to finishing the program strong and hope the experience has a positive impact on Dragonfli’s business model.
KC: Thank you both for participating in the Disability:IN Spotlight on Mentoring and wish you continued success.