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Three Reasons to Be a Mentor

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June 18, 2021 | Barbara Baksa

Three Reasons to Be a Mentor

I am very excited about our recently announced Women Leading in Equity program, a collaboration between the NASPP and Morgan Stanley. This program combines leadership development seminars with one-on-one mentorship to help women build the skills to stand out as leaders while also establishing and leveraging supportive relationships, no matter what stage they are at in their careers.

For today’s blog entry, I want to talk about one aspect of this program—being a mentor. I know that many of the women who read our blog have impressive career paths and I encourage you to consider sharing your experience with a colleague who is new to the profession.

To that end, I want to highlight some of what I learned during the podcast, “How Mentorship Can Help Your Career” which features Stacie Hoffmeister of Morgan Stanley. Stacie is an Executive Director and Head of Wealth Management Home Office Talent and Diversity for Morgan Stanley. In her role, she oversees mentorship programs at Morgan Stanley. She offered some excellent insights on mentorship programs, including how to get the most out of them as a mentee.

For this blog entry, I’m going to share her perspectives on the mentor side of the relationship. From my conversation with Stacie, here are three great reasons (and one bonus reason) to become a mentor.

1. It’s a Reciprocal Relationship

Almost right off the bat, Stacie points out that mentoring is a reciprocal relationship. Sure, the focus of a mentor program is for the mentees to be guided by the mentors, but that doesn’t mean that it is an entirely one-way relationship. We often learn by interacting with others. As a mentor, you might gain new perspectives on various aspects of stock compensation from your mentee, learn other ways of doing things, or gain insight into a completely different industry. No two companies have the exact same equity plans, so you will most certainly expand your knowledge and understanding of equity compensation.

I haven’t personally participated in a formal mentor relationship, but the entirety of my career in equity compensation has been in the area of learning and development. In that capacity, I, myself, have learned (and continue to learn) a great deal from those who are looking to me for assistance. Questions from NASPP members help me to understand the challenges they face (knowledge that is critical to my role). But more than that, their questions often reveal new practices to me and expose me to different approaches to equity compensation, which helps me to increase my own knowledge.

2. It’s Less Work than Being a Mentee

Something that Stacie helped me to understand is that, in the mentor-mentee relationship, most of the work is done by the mentee. This relationship is about helping mentees further their career goals. For this to happen, mentees need to define their career goals and communicate those goals to their mentor. Mentees have to think about what they want for their careers, what they want to accomplish through the mentor relationship, and the specific topics they want guidance on.

As Stacie explains, maintenance of the mentor-mentee relationship largely falls on the mentee. The mentee should take responsibility for directing the conversations, both in terms of content and cadence (how often, how long, etc.). As mentor, you, of course, have input on this—mentor and mentee should agree on a cadence that is acceptable to both and mentors aren’t expected to address topics that are outside their experience—but the mentee should take the lead and should be responsible for making sure that you both adhere to what you’ve agreed on.

As mentor, your role is primarily to show up, listen, be open to your mentee’s agenda and needs, and speak from your own experience. Occasionally, your mentee might ask you to look at something in advance of a meeting, but, in general, you will have less pre-work for meetings than mentees.

3. It’s an Opportunity to Build Your Own Network

No matter what stage you are in with your career, a strong network is essential. Mentoring provides an opportunity to add to your network. While this is not a requirement or guarantee, many mentors and mentees stay in touch even after the relationship has ended. If so, as your now former mentee continues to expand their own network, this can help to grow your network as well. And, as your former mentee advances in their career, you may find that they become a resource for you. I have many former students that have reached the point in their careers where I now turn to them for assistance.

Bonus: It’s Rewarding!

In addition to those three great reasons, being a mentor is rewarding. It makes my day every time a member thanks me for helping them with a question. As Stacie explains in our podcast, there’s a lot of joy in giving back and helping others. Not only that, but mentoring can also help give your own path meaning. In talking about her own experiences with coaching others, Stacie says:

It gives my own path a bit more meaning and I feel a bit as if my journey does mean something because it's illuminating a path for someone else.

Apply to Be a Mentor (or a Mentee) Today

My podcast with Stacie is well worth a listen, whether you are interested in being a mentor or mentee. Learn more about the Women Leading in Equity program and apply for either role today.

- Barbara

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