Levis and a lifetime of advice

What do Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, music producer Jay Z and the late Steve Jobs have in common apart from being famous and successful? They are all mentors to equally famous people.

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Pic: Catriona and her father on her wedding day Source: provided

Having a mentor is a partnership that can drive a career yet, for most of us, having a mentor has never been high on our radar.

"I made sure I always turned to people I could trust and confide in, inside and outside the business.”

My first footsteps into the world of mentoring came at just 14 years old when I received my first pay packet from fast-food retailer McDonald's.

I would pour over each payslip with my dad, making sure I’d been paid the right amount and taken the correct meal breaks.

My dad was actually the reason I got the job at McDonald's in the first place - he wouldn’t buy me the designer Levi jeans I wanted and said if I wanted a nicer pair of jeans, I had to pay for it.

That advice was truly a gift that I’ve carried with me for my entire life.

What I didn’t understand at the time, however, was my dad had kicked off a lifelong journey of enjoying the insights and wisdom of a mentor - and also the fulfilling emotional benefits of being one.

As I grew up and developed my career, my passion for being a mentee and a mentor was ignited and I made sure I always turned to people I could trust and confide in, inside and outside the business.

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Pic: Catriona, her father and her daughter Zoe Source: provided

Some of my mentors and confidants from throughout my career have included CEO of Kmart and Target, Guy Russo; Chairman of Mortgage Choice Australia, Peter Richie and former CEO of Optus and McDonald's, Bob Mansfield AO.

I never had to explicitly ask these people to be my mentor; our relationships grew over time. However, developing a group of mentors was a very deliberate choice on my part and although organic, still took effort.

Numerous studies around the world show a mentoring relationship has benefits for both the mentor and mentee.

It has the potential to encourage learning, enhance personal and professional growth and increase confidence among other benefits.

Having mentors has influenced how I approached tough decisions and given me the ability to help see all sides of an issue as well as leading to faster, more effective solutions.  

However, while I now mentor a number of young women inside ANZ and out, I’m careful not to give prescriptive advice.

If the primary purpose of entering a mentoring relationship is because you think they have the power or position to influence your career, the relationship won’t work.

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The best mentors help guide you to create your own awareness and to find your own answer and isn’t in your direct management hierarchy.

Mentoring also doesn’t just have its place in the corporate world.

A study by The National Mentoring Partnership in the US found young at-risk adults who had a mentor were 55 per cent more likely to enrol in higher education, 78 per cent  more likely to volunteer and 130 per cent more likely to hold leadership positions.

Because the role of a mentor has been so important in my life, I’ve made sure my children have adults in their lives who can offer them a different lens on the world.

Mentoring is a simple gift that will create benefits for years to come.

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Pic: Catriona (right) and her mentee Jackie McArthur who is now non Executive Director of Inghams and Blackmores Source: provided

From a coffee to a mentor

There are many ways to develop a mentor-mentee relationship; here are some things I’ve picked up throughout my career:

  1. Learn how to accept and give feedback
  2. Establish trust early
  3. You don’t have to ask someone to officially be your mentor - often the best relationships develop organically like calling someone you trust for a coffee.
  4. A good mentor may encourage you out of your comfort zone to explore new experiences and challenges.
  5. Mentors should know your personal strengths and weaknesses so it can help to find a mentor who has a different skillset to you.
  6. Establish early on how you and your mentor will work together but remember: a mentor is not there to set up your next career move.
  7. Don’t feel like you have to find someone in your own industry or location - mentoring relationships can also be enjoyed remotely.  

Catriona Noble is Managing Director of Retail Distribution at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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