One of the incentives for doing an MBA was to get an understanding of how people transition their careers from “doing” an activity to “managing” an activity. I looked to the MBA as a possible business mentor that could provide generalist information on business topics as well as opportunities to volunteer and work on essential business writing skills.
I was looking forward to honing my business skills by completing assessments and getting honest feedback from lecturers regarding improvement opportunities just as real business mentors would provide.
The exposure to business through the courses and people has come part way to offering a mentorship that I originally was looking for, however it probably wasn’t ever going to be able to fulfil all of the requirements of a business mentor.
A great business mentor has more trust in your ability than you do and will often put you in difficult situations to prove to yourself that you can succeed. They are allies for you in the complex world of corporate politics and their mere presence makes work a little easier. Often, they are also the reason you have a positive relationship with the organisation you work for. In all, I believe a good business mentor is essential to your continual growth, career progression and the rewarding experience that work can give you.
As I think about the great business mentors I have had throughout my career I think about the person I was before I met them. These mentors have taught me how to handle confrontation and have improved my confidence in tackling difficult problems and issues at work.
One mentor in particular taught me how it is important to voice your opinion when you do not agree with a solution to a problem as we are all here to add value – agreeing without thinking is not adding value! Likewise, at this point in the MBA journey, I can see my problem-solving skills have improved to incorporate many more disciplines that I previously would not have factored into the solution.
While the MBA has given me some of the mentorship qualities I was initially seeking, it is clear nothing can replace a good business mentor. I will be forever thankful to my mentors who have taken time out of their daily schedules to listen and encourage me and have continued to invest in my career. I encourage everyone to find at least one person who they can talk openly with and who encourages you to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to approach someone you respect but who you aren’t well acquainted with – someone external to your immediate work environment is likely to provide excellent advice and will be flattered that you have sought them out to be your mentor.