Employees with mentors are paid better, get promoted more often, are more committed to their work, and are more confident about their jobs. I don’t need stats to tell me how important mentorship is because I’ve had the great fortune to have amazing mentors in my life.
Kathy Mast is one of the best. Kathy and I met when she became my official mentor through Southern Methodist University’s Associate Board mentorship program while I was getting my executive MBA in 2011. Nine years later we are still in close contact, which should tell you something about her as a person.
Kathy first became a mentor in 2004 after completing her EMBA at SMU because she wanted to give back to future students. Since then she has had about two mentees per year — that’s 32 students she’s mentored!
What is the importance of mentorship?
The importance of mentorship is sharing knowledge and experience one has been fortunate to obtain to benefit the lives of others who are new to a job, career, or similar investment of their life. It’s also being available to answer questions, offer encouragement, and fill in the gaps when the new person needs help or advice most in order to help them succeed in their own way.
How have you benefited from mentors in your life?
I have had mentors in my life, though not always “officially.” Many business leaders that I’ve had the opportunity to know and work with provided mentorship about finance, business, and leadership. Dr. Slocum has been a mentor for Organizational Behavior, talent assessments, and building a business. My music minister has been a mentor for spiritual growth, leadership, and excellence. I could name many more, but those are a few that have meant a great deal to me.
What is the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
You can do it! Believe in yourself, stay focused on your work and you’ll achieve your goals. Show up on time and come dressed for the part! (Simple advice, but still so true).
Any “aha!” moments you’ve had as a mentor or mentee?
Several times over the years, I’ve had former mentees ask to meet and continue to work with me. Those are special or “aha” moments that someone appreciated and valued working with me as a mentor. Many “aha” moments in seeing my mentees achieve success.
How do you think women, in particular, can benefit from mentorship?
Women bring unique strengths, perspectives and traits to any endeavor. Navigating opportunities and challenges to find the best use of their strengths, because they are different, can be challenging. Women can benefit from mentorship by learning from both confident women and men about success, humility, and professionalism in all kinds of situations that they may encounter. Also, it is still a mostly male-dominated world, and little education focuses directly on women as leaders, so mentorship becomes especially important.
Do you think that women benefit from role models in powerful positions (young girls benefit from seeing female CEOs)? If so, what is the benefit?
Absolutely! Seeing women role models gives young girls, and women of all ages, the confidence that they can achieve the same and that opportunities do exist. The women leaders, their actions and investments can be “followed,” when publicly possible, or through seminars/speaking events to gain more insights into how to learn and achieve similar success. There are so many relevant topics, such as work/life balance, continuing education and learning, the value of mentorship, building the right team, managing daily from a female perspective and all the other ingredients that built their success. Valuable lessons for young women.