Choose wisely and be willing to listen and learn

Nadine Kater, Head of ACCA SA is passionate about youth development. She believes mentoring plays an important role in personal success. Nadine urges young South Africans, who are not currently being mentored, to find a mentor.

A mentor is often described as a wise and trusted counsellor, or a teacher. Finding a mentor early in one’s career is one of the best career moves one can make. Navigating the workplace can often be perilous, particularly for the inexperienced: poor decisions, or inappropriate, ill-considered behaviour, can often be very career limiting.

Some candidates, particularly ‘high potential’ candidates are very fortunate in that they are usually assigned a workplace mentor, who helps steer them on the path of workplace success and career mobility, but what about those young employees, who are not assigned mentors?

I believe every young person needs a mentor. In a previous blog (19th June), I invited South Africans, as part of their commitment to ‘Youth Month’ to mentor a young South African. I am now urging young South Africans, including ACCA students, who are not currently being mentored, to find a mentor. If someone has not offered to mentor you, you need to approach someone suitable and ask them to mentor you.

Everyone would love to be mentored by the CEO, or someone from the C-suite. This is not always possible, and neither is it realistic. Look for someone in your organisation, more senior than yourself, or someone within your place of worship, or community, or even family, who is a role model, who has integrity, who is able to help you overcome some of the workplace and life challenges, based on their life experience.

It is important to recognise that you may have different mentors at different stages throughout your career. This is not unusual.

It is also important to recognise that being a mentee carries with it a lot of responsibility. It is a great privilege to be mentored. If someone is investing their time in you, they will expect a good return on their investment. They will want to see you grow as an individual, acquire more skills, and become more accomplished, in all areas of your life.

There are times when your mentor, acting in your best interests, and based on hard-earned experience, will ask you to pursue a course of action, which may not hold much appeal. There may also be times when she asks you, metaphorically speaking to swallow some very bitter medicine. How will you respond? How will you respond if your mentor asks you to heed the advice of New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg: “It never hurts to be the first one in, in the morning – and the last one to leave?”

Make the difficult decision today: ask someone to mentor you. Choose wisely and be willing to listen and learn.

Nadine Kater
Head of ACCA SA

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