A mentor can be many things: a trustworthy confidant, a wise teacher, an unwavering member of your professional cheer squad. And if you’re lucky enough to have such an ally, the benefits can change everything.
Executive director of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies at KPMG and founder of Héros de Chez Nous, a digital-literacy nonprofit
What is the best career advice you’ve received from a mentor? “Be focused and be good at your job, and the rest will come. There’s a Cambodian quote that reminds me of my parents’ work ethic: ‘If you pick up a mango too soon, it’ll be sour.’ – which means if you start juggling too many objectives or want everything simultaneously, you could end up not performing the way you want.”
How can someone find their ideal mentor? “Anyone can be your mentor. You could be surprised by the people surrounding you – your colleagues, teachers, family members, neighbours, barista and many more. They all have one thing in common: They could inspire you to be the best version of yourself, especially those who think differently from you.”
Photo: @davidkidd_portfolio, MUA: @khamza15
Commander Kelly Williamson
Director of public affairs at the Royal Canadian Navy
What is the best career advice you’ve received from a mentor? “Be yourself, but always strive to be courageous and take risks while remembering that leadership is all about empowering those around you.”
Besides career wisdom, what other benefits can a great mentor provide? “Mentors should be confidants and sounding boards. They can put personal and professional questions and worries into perspective or provide you with an alternative take on issues.”
Photo: Monza Ghiz
Senior director of regulatory strategy and delivery at RBC and lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information
What is the best career advice you’ve received from a mentor? “People first; programs/projects second. The people on our team are the greatest assets we have in our organization, and focusing on them first will ensure that we do everything else well.”
Besides career wisdom, what other benefits can a great mentor provide? “One of my mentors helped me understand how to balance work and my personal life early on, which played a crucial role when I had my daughter.”
Photo: Ruksana Hussain
Associate professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba
Besides career wisdom, what other benefits can a great mentor provide? “A network! This is so important. Personal introductions to key groups and colleagues can be priceless.”
How can someone find their ideal mentor? “Don’t feel shy about approaching someone, but also don’t take it personally if they are not able to commit. If you can be introduced through a mutual connection, that always helps. Also, I think the best mentorship is bidirectional, so think about what you can offer them too!”
Photo: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
Executive director of the Weston Frontlines Centre, a youth charity
What is the best career advice you’ve received from a mentor? “My old boss, Erica Taylor at the YMCA, was a mentor but really liked to call herself a ‘sponsor.’ She allowed me to be myself. [She told me:] ‘Now is not the time to doubt yourself when you have always gone after what you want – you belong.’ This was her response when I decided to do my MBA and was doubting my ability to hold my own among corporate individuals since I’m in the nonprofit sector.”
How can someone find their ideal mentor? “Find a mentor who has values you aspire to. Sometimes it is less about what someone knows and more about how they treat others.”
About She’s Mercedes
She’s Mercedes (#ShesMercedesCA) is a platform developed by Mercedes-Benz to celebrate and connect successful women, empowering them to be their best by inspiring power, confidence, and innovation. As part of its commitment to supporting women’s professional and personal advancement, Mercedes-Benz partners with Women’s Executive Network (WXN) to recognize Canada’s next generation of female leaders with the annual Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Awards.
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