The concept of mentoring is a 20th century term. Thirty years ago mentoring on a business level didn’t even exist. It wasn’t mentioned or promoted as a way to network or learn from people who had the positions that you aspired to. So what did we did we do before mentoring came in vogue in this highly competitive market place? We chose and emulated people who inspired us to help us reach our goals. My first mentor was father. He inspired my business career and in the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to be a mentor and a mentee.
Look for a mentor outside of your organization. Choose someone who inspires you.
I have been fortunate over my professional career to have great mentors. Some I would reach out to on a very informal basis like meeting over a lunch, where I would seek advice and guidance on career choices and specific topics. On a formal basis, I was sponsored to be a Mentee of the Women On Board, a Catalyst Initiative Mentoring Program. My sponsor was Gigi Dawe, Principal, Research, Guidance & Support at CPA Canada. (I would like to extend a big thanks to her for believing in me!)
When asked what I wanted in my Mentor, I answered that I wanted an experienced woman Corporate Director who had a stellar career as an Executive that I could learn from. I knew that I could learn the most from another successful business woman who had been there and done that. And so my mentoring program began in May 2012 with Krystyna Hoeg. We would meet over lunch and had a mutual trust, understanding and respect for one another. I am grateful for those wonderful learning lunches that I had with Krys over the next two years. She helped me refine my board matrix skills and my value proposition to a Board and encouraged me to step up in a leadership role as Chair of the Sears Audit Committee. Thanks Krys!
Become a mentor, you will learn a lot from your mentee.
I have been asked over the years to mentor other women. I am happy to inspire others in achieving their best and find joy in encouraging them to make a difference. I just recently received this email from my mentee that I mentored in the WXNWisdom Top 100 Mentoring Program:
“Also wanted to give you an update that I moved roles within TD about 4 months ago and got a promotion to Associate Vice President Specialized Collections – your guidance and support was a big part of getting me there so wanted to send you a thank you.”
Patricia Trump, AVP Specialized Collection, TD Canada Trust
On Sunday March 1st, I was asked to speak at Brock’s Goodman School of Business’ Brock Badgers A-team Experience as a Distinguished Guest to prospective students and their parents to showcase what Brock’s business graduates have gone on to accomplish. When I’m asked what inspired me to go into business, I always say that I wanted to a businessman just like my father. I can tell that this resonates with the young women business students; they come up to me time and time again and thank me for inspiring them to become a successful woman business leader.
I had Brock Goodman School of Business woman student follow-up with me on LinkedIn after the event:
“It was a pleasure meeting you at the Goodman A-team event today, albeit briefly (over a gift exchange of wine that we hope you enjoy)! I admire your passion for helping women advance their careers and break through the glass ceiling. Hope to keep in touch!”
Olga Coltova, Marketing Support Specialist at Hitachi Solutions Canada
So as you journey in your professional career, take time to find a mentor and equally give back as a mentor. The experience is very rewarding.
I would like to thank all my mentors over the years. You have been instrumental in shaping me into who I am today, especially my father who inspired me at young age to go into business. I would also like to thank those that believed in me to mentor them. The best is yet come!