Boston Scientific: Bridging Cultural and Language Barriers at Work Through Mentoring

Boston Scientific

Ilonkis Lum initially joined the Hispanic Organization for Leadership & Achievement (HOLA) employee resource group (ERG) to meet individuals outside of her Boston Scientific team, where she works as a Senior Product Owner in the Product Information Management group. But Lum has gotten more out of her membership than that: she’s learning how to communicate better with her coworkers, which is helping her perform better at work. 

“English is not my native language,” Lum explains. “When I’m nervous, my accent comes out, and I tend to speak faster in meetings.” It makes it difficult for folks to comprehend what I’m saying”.  

With the help of her ERG, she’s learned how to overcome such language difficulties. “We focus on slowing down during public speaking,” she goes on to remark. “Taking a moment to reset can really help you to facilitate a meeting better and to articulate things in a better way.”

HOLA is trying to ensure that all Boston Scientific workers have the resources they need to feel like they belong and can flourish at the company through two recent projects in particular. 

Boston Scientific

The HOLA Coaching program was started two years ago to assist employees in improving their language abilities through six sessions per year with executive communications coach Laura Mathis. Topics for discussion include how to talk eloquently and how to be more concise. 

The program addresses a critical need within the Boston Scientific community: the firm employs many people who do not speak English as their first language, not only at its various locations throughout the world, but also in the United States. 

“When English is not your first language, there can be a lot to learn about pronunciation,” Lorena Trujillo Castillo, a packaging graphics specialist in Heredia, Costa Rica, explains. “I’ve improved my presentation skills thanks to this program.” I’ve learned that I should speak up more in meetings and not be afraid to display my personality.” 

Mathis’ hour-long “Learning Café” sessions are videotaped and made available to all Boston Scientific workers. Castillo was inspired to get involved with the program beyond simply participating by the possibility to make an impact at the organization on a global scale: She oversaw the Coaching program in 2023. 

“I wanted to help others whose first language is not English – not just the Latin community, but also people in regions across the globe,” 

In 2022, HOLA launched an exclusive mentoring program for the ERG’s group leads, who are all employee volunteers. The goal was to make them feel confident in their responsibilities and take ownership of their pathways to leadership within the organization. 

This year, the program has expanded to include all corporate employees, but the purpose remains the same: to provide people with educational seminars and mentoring to help them advance in their careers. 

Attendees learn about a major development area – from creating your brand to learning to delegate – from a Boston Scientific leader in each of six sessions held each year. They were then divided into groups to meet with mentors who had extensive experience at the organization. Outside of these sessions, mentees are urged to maintain relationships with their mentors.