The Making of a Mentor | Deborah Beggan

The Making of a Mentor | Deborah Beggan

Deborah Beggan is the Director of US Sales at Helly Hansen

Enthusiasm and passion for the outdoor industry was clearly conveyed in a recent discussion with Deborah Beggan, a mentor for Camber Outdoors Professional Mentoring Program.

As an outdoor industry leader and mentor, Deborah focused on challenges and lessons learned over the course of her career in the outdoor industry and highlighted the importance of being comfortable with being uncomfortable, and the inevitability of vulnerability and loss of control.

“We work hard to have control and always have the right answer and always be prepared and put together,” she said. “When your destiny is taken out of your hand for a moment, that’s pretty frightening. But, it’s amazing how quickly you get it back. You regroup and come up with a plan.”

Deborah is a mentor for the 2018 Camber Outdoors Professional Mentoring Program. The Camber Outdoors Professional Mentoring Program is the only cross-company, cross-industry mentoring initiative in the active-outdoor industries that facilitates one-on-one learning and leadership development opportunities between director/manager-level and executive-level women. Research shows that mentors are six times more likely to advance in their own career by participating in a mentoring program. Mentoring also benefits an organization by reducing turnover, increasing organizational commitment, promoting knowledge sharing and retention, and enabling early identification of top talent.

Deborah explained that mentoring has been a part of her professional journey, and she has used the advice and guidance from her mentors in her career. One piece of advice she received was that “some of the hardest things you do will be the best things you do; from the obstacles you need to overcome will emerge the lessons that drive you and make you better.”

Deborah also noted that it’s the perfect time for women in the outdoor industry regarding equity and recognition.

“The industry is among the leaders in the national move for gender equality,” she said. “That, coupled with the trend toward outdoor brands focusing their growth of the women’s category, makes for the perfect storm!”

This industry shift and focus fed into the depth of the conversation, which contained lessons on self-awareness, hard work, community, passion, and envisioning a desired career path.

We followed up with Deborah regarding her career and advice to those earlier in their careers.

Did you ever have an “aha” moment in your career? What was it and how did it inform your career path?

It was when I was with Levi Strauss. I had relocated seven times in seven years and the call came for another move. In that moment I knew the right move was to take ownership of my personal roadmap and put family and friends first. I asked to be moved back home to Chicago and they made it happen!

What one piece of advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

Have more fun and “work to live,” not “live to work.”

You have the soapbox: What’s one thing would you say to young people starting their career?

Work hard, be nice. Roll up your sleeves, get dirty, do the stuff no one else wants to do and appreciate the opportunities that come your way. That will set you apart from the masses.

What do you see as the most prominent/important active-outdoor industries trend of 2018?

The focus on getting more people, from all walks of life, outdoors. The love of nature will enlist more people to protect our public lands.

What do you love most about being a mentor for Camber Outdoors’ Professional Mentoring Program?

My amazing mentee teaches me way more than I teach her!  She’s embedded in the tech culture and uses digital resources for her own development. She has amassed a really robust tool kit. She’s taught me to be a better listener and to be vulnerable!

What’s your favorite outdoor memory?

Favorite memory was thru-hiking the W Trek in Chilean Patagonia. So remote and the most stunning terrain I’ve ever seen: waterfalls, glaciers, wild flower fields and the Andes Mountains. That trip got me hooked on thru hiking!

Flash Round (one word/short statement answers):

What’s your superpower? Power of the dare!
Outdoor adventure of choice for daily release? Hiking
What book would you recommend? The Girl in Cabin 10
Your number one outdoor hack? Instant Oatmeal
One word that you think of when we say outdoors? Unplugged

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)


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