Why Mentorship Matters.

It’s always a refreshing surprise when an experience leaves you wanting more.  With so many sessions facilitated on the future of marketing, industry trends and networking, it’s difficult to determine the potential value derived from a meeting of this nature.

If there are two effects that I walked away with after this week’s Speed Mentoring event at the Drake Hotel it was a sense of renewed optimism in one hand and a fresh, clear perspective in the other. Afterall, there’s something to be said about the merging and colliding of generations – I find it exciting, rare and forward-thinking.

What I loved even more about this event was the candor, honesty and clarity offered by mentors and mentees alike. It was encouraging to hear perspectives from industry veterans whom have worked through similar issues and roadblocks that the current generation of emerging marketers is now facing.  

The commitment to engagement from each of the mentors was decidedly apparent. Each one offered a unique take on his/her own role, career progression and the future trends that we’ll see in the industry to come.

Some standout highlights from the event:

Paul Marchildon of Maritz Canada – If I could summarize my experience meeting Paul, it was his apparent dedication to excellence across all spectrums of the business. I thoroughly enjoyed Paul’s willingness and eagerness to explore the changing digital landscape and truly believe in the voices of the mentees he was engaged with. It’s rare to see someone so established in his career continue to be incredibly passionate about continued learning and knowledge. His ability to listen authentically and synergize with the audience is a coveted quality. He is highly observant and open to discussion and dialogue in order to better his understanding of the current state of the industry while providing astute insights and observations about his own rich experiences.

When I asked Shelagh Stoneham of Rogers Wireless  what she looks for in a candidate to hire, her answer was simple: “The right fit.” In Shelagh’s mind, given the sheer amount of time spent at the workplace, her team must feel like family. Stoneham prides herself on being an open, honest beacon of support and guidance for young people navigating their careers and almost doesn’t see any another way to approach mentorship. Having worked in senior level agency roles and senior level client side roles, Stoneham encourages knowing both sides of the business in order to grow into leadership roles. Stoneham’s ulimately profound takeaway? “At the end of the day, when you look in the mirror, all you have is your integrity.”

As the Head of Marketing for Novartis Canada, Vineet Mehra believes in pursuing all areas of the business, from analytics to problem solving in order to be a successful brand marketer. Coming to the table with international and traditional consumer goods experience, his advice holds a certain amount of weight given his impressive track record. Having worked with Proctor and Gamble as a product manager within the cosmetic and beauty business he offered a frank observation behind his reasoning for the transition to pharmaceuticals. “Ultimately, you must wholeheartedly believe in what you’re selling. Working with the beauty line I felt uncomfortable telling women that they needed to purchase our products in order to be more worthwhile.” An honest observation? Most definitely, and one that I had not quite considered as a factor in determining the appropriate scope and direction of one’s pursuits.

Gallant Law of VISA Canada took a very directed and pragmatic approach to his advice: Be open to experiencing all aspects of the business before choosing your niche.  Why? because as much as you may think you know your area of interest, business is complex and knowing the different moving parts can only enable you to be a stronger asset. I appreciated this notion, considering that it may take longer than anticipated to reach a state of understanding about your direction, but that being open to possibilities is never a hindrance.

The unifying and underlying messages taken away from the AMA’s Speed Mentoring Event? Take risks. Explore strategically. Meet as many people as you can. And at the utmost, be your own brand, because, if you can sell yourself, then you can sell anything.

For future AMA Toronto events, click here