Everyone’s career path is different. But you can count on one thing—there will be challenges along the way. That’s why it’s important to have a support system in place, one you can look to for guidance and direction. No one can succeed alone. I certainly didn’t, which is why I believe so passionately in the power of mentoring.
Early in my career, I developed a network of people who helped me learn about prudential’s businesses, about people, and about myself. No one called it mentoring at the time, but that’s what it was. They shared insights on how to navigate the organization and learn the unwritten rules of the corporate world. They provided constructive feedback and delivered hard messages that were sometimes difficult to hear. When I felt stalled, they helped me identify strategies to grow and encouraged me to take on difficult but developmental assignments. Without my mentors, I may not have made those key decisions that helped me advance.
Having experienced the power of mentoring first-hand, I try to do the same for others in my professional and personal life. I mentor several emerging leaders within prudential and work closely with our business resource groups to help reinforce the importance and impact of professional development and building supportive networks. I am also active in external organizations like the Executive Leadership Council’s NextGen Network, which seeks to support high-potential African American professionals at critical stages in their careers.
One story particularly close to my heart is that of Kory and Kia saunders, twin sisters and scholarship recipients from a not-for-profit organization I chair outside of work that provides financial assistance and guidance to students of color. Kory, one of my mentees, graduated summa cum laude from Hampton University and is now a marketing professional with Newsweek. Kia is an attorney who recently passed both the New York and New Jersey bar exams.
These accomplished sisters are now sharing their gifts with young high school and college students. To me that’s what it’s all about—helping others overcome obstacles to achieve their own success so that they can become part of the next generation to give back.
There’s an African proverb that says, “He who learns, teaches.” I believe this is both a responsibility and a gift. We all have the ability to leave a unique and lasting legacy within our families, professions, and communities—a legacy that will benefit those who follow us. This is the virtuous cycle of leadership.