The Value of Mentorship
By Mimi San Pedro
I was 23 years old, a recent college graduate with a BS in Computer Science and minor in Accounting, I’d just recently become an American Citizen – and I had no knowledge of how to maneuver the business world. How was I ever going to learn these skills that just don’t come with a college degree?
My parents, both CPAs, did not have any business connections to introduce me to, except for one. My parents arranged a meeting with the first Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Maria Haley, a “tiny and mighty” Filipino woman in charge of the state’s overseas trade and investments. They wanted Maria to give me guidance and help me find my footing in the business world. She became my mentor and my good friend until her sudden death a few years ago. She told me not to let anything get in my way and to be proud of the ideals instilled in me by my Filipino parents. She encouraged me to use that as my strength and uniqueness to stand out. She said my mom was correct always to push me. She was truly a great mentor to me. With her mentorship, I learned so much about operating in the business world.
A mentor provides guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. A mentor helps with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources. Since my early career days, I’ve had several wonderful mentors, all of whom have become valued life coaches and dear friends, and each of them taught me how to travel through the business world.
One of those mentors is Millie Ward, who is now a board member for The Venture Center. I met Millie when I was 27 years old and applying for a job with her advertising agency, Stone Ward. And for the next 14 and a half years, I had the privilege of working side by side, night and day with Millie and her partner Larry Stone. I learned and honed many skills, met so many business professionals, and grew both personally and professionally.
To be a good mentee, I had to be very clear and focused on my goals. I had to be honest and forthcoming about my strengths, weakness, and what I am willing to give and willing to take. I had to remember that their suggestions are in response to my needs. Their criticisms are for my good and from a place of caring and concern and that it’s their responsibility as mentors to give. I also have to make sure that I do the follow-ups and the organization of all the meetings. And to grow, I needed to be serious about my role.
Millie was my boss, my mentor and a very close friend…she’s family. She took the time; she was patient, understanding, demanding, frustrating, brilliant, and direct. She expected too much, and delighted when I achieved her expectations. She, like my mom – who is my ultimate mentor – sits whispering lessons on my shoulders daily. I am much better personally and professionally because of my mentors.
Today, I take pride in being a person to whom others look for guidance. I am a mentor to other young people, sharing my parents’ mantra: “Education is the key.” I strive to inspire men and women, not to let anything stand in their way, including themselves. I do so by telling them my story of success and the stories of the men and women who helped shape me for the bright future I am enjoying today. My hope is to follow in the footsteps of my incredible mentors and to pass on lessons I have learned in hopes that they will flourish as I have and continue that successful mentorship process to the next set of young professionals. This is the true value of mentorship, and why we value it so greatly at The Venture Center.
Before I go, there’s one piece of advice I’d like to leave with readers. People often put you in little boxes, and we even put ourselves in boxes. But what if you have the skills to make a difference, or have skills that are outside a job description? YOU GO FOR IT!
The Venture Center is now accepting requests for a new, free, unlimited mentorship program. Any entrepreneur with an operating business is encouraged to fill out a request at www.venturecenter.co/mentor