As our 2018 DiverseCity Fellows receive their carefully curated mentorship matches and eagerly prepare for their first meeting with their new mentors, we asked some of our former Fellows what they considered to be the most important lessons they learned from their mentorship experience. Here’s what they told us…
1. It’s ok to feel intimated at first!
Mentor: Ken Tanenbaum, Vice Chairman at Kilmer Group
Mentee: Jarret Leaman, Director, Business Development and Philanthropy, Troon Technologies and 2015 DiverseCity Fellow
Jarret Leaman recalls being nervous to meet his mentor Ken Tanenbaum, thinking that they didn’t initially appear to have a lot in common and worried that he wouldn’t know what to say during their meeting. “When you first show up it kind of feels like online dating!” laughed Jarret. But once Jarret got to know Ken, they connected on core leadership values like humility and vulnerability. “Ken taught me that humility is important because it can bring people together, and that the only way to grow as a leader is by being vulnerable,” Jarret reflected.
2. You can’t learn everything from a textbook.
Mentor: Alex Bezzina, Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for the Government of Ontario
Mentee: Stefany Hanson, Manager, Youth Development at City of Toronto and 2017 DiverseCity Fellow
Stefany Hanson found that the most valuable lessons she learned from her mentor Alex Bezzina were ones she couldn’t get anywhere else. “Our mentorship conversations moved to management and the strategy involved in managing large groups. Alex basically gave me foundational management 101 that I wouldn’t have gotten from a textbook. No book can really teach you how to manage people effectively,” Stefany observed.
3. Sometimes opposites attract.
Mentor: Adrienne Batra, Editor-in-Chief of the Toronto Sun
Mentee: Theresa Scandiffio, Senior Director & Lead Programmer, Learning Division, TIFF and 2017 DiverseCity Fellow
When Theresa Scandiffio was matched with Adrienne Batra she wasn’t sure how the conversation would go, knowing that they both bring very different views and perspectives to the table. Those concerns quickly vanished as they began to have honest and respectful conversations that stretched Theresa and helped her understand a different perspective. “Sevaun Paletzian taught us (DiverseCity Fellows) that the only way to have real impact is to engage those who come from very different perspectives to work towards common goals. Through my mentorship I learned to have a generous and curious mind, regardless of who’s sitting across from me at the table, and to hope they will do the same,” Theresa remarked.
4. Mentors give you insights from a new angle.
Mentor: Rod Phillips, Former Chair, CivicAction & Chair, Postmedia Corp., currently the MPP for Ajax
Mentee: Brett Chang, Founder, Leaf Forward and 2017 DiverseCity Fellow
Through his mentorship with Rod Phillips, Brett Chang found that his eyes were opened to new thoughts and possibilities. “Rod gave me invaluable insights into what it takes to lead a large organization and exposed me to leadership opportunities I had never considered before,” said Brett. The mentorship didn’t end once the program concluded either; Brett still considers Rod a trusted advisor and friend, and continues to go to him to get that valuable outside perspective.
5. Mentorship is a two way street.
Mentor: Zabeen Hirji, Global Advisor of the Future of Work at Deloitte
Mentee: Emily Mills, Founder, How She Hustles and 2017 DiverseCity Fellow
For Emily Mills, mentoring isn’t just about what you learn but also what you can share. When she connected with her mentor Zabeen Hirji, she appreciated how much Zabeen valued the uniqueness of her perspective. “She opened up her networks to me, but was also enthusiastic about connecting with my networks too. Our relationship is open, honest, and reciprocal and having Zabeen as my mentor was one of the best parts of the program,” Emily shared.
Mentorship isn’t the same for everyone, and each match creates a unique relationship. But one thing is certain; if you’re open to being stretched and challenged in new ways a good mentor will teach you invaluable lessons that will influence your career for years to come.
Curious to see who is mentoring our current DiverseCity Fellows cohort over the next year? Meet our 2018 DiverseCity Mentors!