Why Taking a Risk in Mentorship Could Mean Big Rewards For Your Career
Finding a mentor can be a formative moment and pivotal part of any career path, so why aren’t more people seeking out mentorship relationships in the workplace? American Express Canada’s Nyree Embiricos shares her mentorship experience and provides a reason why more young professionals may not be looking for a mentor.
By RENEE SYLVESTRE-WILLIAMS
There’s no secret roadmap for successfully navigating your career. Finding success takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
And even with the right tools and a positive mindset, it can be difficult to track your way to success, which is why, sometimes, a little bit of good advice can go a long way.
That’s where a mentor can help.
Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t seek out mentoring relationships and are missing out on the kind of guidance that can help take their career to the next level.
For Nyree Embiricos, VP and Senior Counsel at American Express, mentorship has always been a powerful force, in her personal and her professional life, helping to shape her career.
“I believe in the power of mentorship,” she said.
“I’ve had many mentors in my life, beginning with my father when I was young, to my days as a junior lawyer in the UK, and even today at American Express, I have those who I go to for professional guidance and advice. If I didn’t have these types of mentor relationships early on in my career, and even now, the invaluable lessons and advice I have been given may not haven take me to where I am today.”
Mentors can be key in developing a successful career, says Embiricos. They can encourage, motivate and advise on all aspects of your career, from reviewing a business plan, to the best way to handle your first big meeting.
However, Embiricos believes many people are missing out on the benefits of mentorship, for any number of reasons. While some people may simply be unaware of the value of mentorship, others might be intimidated by the prospect of reaching out to someone senior for career guidance.
“I’ve heard people say they are too shy or worried that no one would be willing to take the time out of their hectic schedules to mentor them,” she said. “But the reality is that, given the chance, many people would be open, even flattered, to be a mentor.”
When Embiricos thinks back to the beginning of her career and the impact of mentorship, one situation stands out. She recalled a high-pressure meeting during which she was running the agenda and trying to advance her client’s position. Her mentor was in the room taking part in the discussion but also observing how Embiricos was handling the subject matter and the situation. Aware that it had been a tough meeting and that she’d been frequently interrupted and spoken over, she met with her mentor for feedback, “what she said stuck with me, ‘there is a lot of hot air in these meetings, but you kept your cool and got the job done. Keeping your act together is half the battle.’”
Embiricos’ passion for mentorship extends to her own experience now as a mentor herself. She regularly shares time with younger lawyers and business colleagues at American Express. She also she helped to create the Women in Law network, ensuring that young professionals whose position she once was in aspire to reach their highest potential.
Her advice to her mentees often involves focusing on the big picture of what they want out of their career, without neglecting the small details about how to get there. Embiricos also encourages her mentees to remember to take care of themselves.
“Don’t be afraid to work a little longer and a little harder, but when you push yourself too hard, there can be a point of diminishing return,” she said.
“If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be your best self at home or at work. I also always recommend surrounding yourself with people who you respect, who respect you, and who truly value your time.”
For anyone looking to make the most of a mentorship opportunity, Embiricos recommends preparing concrete objectives and clearly stated goals, that way the mentorship will begin with a solid foundation of mutual trust and respect. It’s the clearest path to success for both the mentor and the mentee.
“These types of relationships are some of the most important you will ever make in your career.”