Lessons learned on the value of mentorship in global business from the CITP20 contest winners

28/03/2019

People hiking up a hill at twilight

 

People hiking up a hill at twilight

Mentorship can be a gamechanger on many levels. While it may be known that mentorship can be transformative  and can often be the key to success, what seems less clear is where to actually find one.

As an organization that is dedicated to contributing to professional and personal development, it seemed only natural for The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) to offer a mentorship experience. In 2018, to mark the 20th anniversary of the CITP®|FIBP® designation, FITT launched a special global trade mentorship contest.

Where better to find mentors in global business than amongst the CITP’s, the Certified International Trade Professionals, who bring with them years of wisdom and experience across a wide range of industries in global trade.

FITT hand-picked 3 CITP global trade mentors to offer a bespoke and personal mentorship to a matched mentee. From over 100 entrants to the contest, 3 lucky winners were drawn in 2018. The mentors and mentees would have a full year to complete the engagement.

A uniquely global mentorship experience

The mentees and mentors were carefully matched, to align on important points like professions or industries. Once matched, they were free to work out between themselves how they would roll out their mentorship engagement. True to the spirit of global business, it was a multinational affair – in many cases, mentor and mentee physically separated by countries, continents and time zones.

But it’s a small world after all. As it turns out, no matter what business or profession in which you may find yourself, people are people and the value of mentorship has universal appeal.

The mentors and mentees of the CITP20 Mentorship program shared some of their experiences and lessons learned.

Lesson: mentorship delivers usable strategies for professional and personal development

 

Mentor: Simon Slyper, CITP

Simon Slyper, CITP|FIBP is a Senior Customs Compliance Specialist with Amscan Inc. Simon works with numerous internal and external teams such as logistics, customs brokers, product managers and sales to ensure that the importation and exportation of company products are compliant with U.S. customs regulations.

Mentee: Natalia Giraldo

Natalia is a professional in the field of Energy Regulation.

Simon, the mentor

How did you find your experience? Was it helpful and why/why not?

I found my experience to be a very positive and rewarding one. I enjoyed having the opportunity to draw on my professional and life experiences to provide Natalia with an insight into how to develop her professional goals.

Did you get a chance to have meaningful conversations?

Yes, the time was sufficient for the objectives we discussed. We created a set of discussion points in our first session which evolved as we progressed through our calls. Our conversations were especially meaningful in that we took the time to listen and question one another. Great communication and the exchange of ideas made our time together a fruitful one.

Do you feel that you contributed some value to your mentee?

Based on our conversations and Natalia’s feedback, I feel that our time together was a constructive and beneficial one. We discussed my experience with FITT skills courses and how that could benefit her, public and private sector work, social media and networking strategies and the importance of patience and vision in achieving medium- and long-term goals. Some points that I stressed were: Patience, Time, Action Items, Awareness, Education, Discipline, Sacrifice, Perseverance, Imagination & Visualizing your goals and path.

It was important to listen to Natalia and understand her interests and how they fit into our sessions. Natalia has a very outward and global vision on where she sees herself professionally, and I have no doubt she’ll accomplish everything she sets out to do.

Would you participate in a mentorship opportunity again? If so, is there something that would make it more valuable for you? Would you recommend it to others?

Definitely. It was a very rewarding and satisfying experience as it allowed me to share and provide my experiences to someone looking for a different perspective. I not only had the pleasure to learn about Natalia, but the discussions also allowed for self-reflection in my career and long-term goals.

Natalia, the mentee

How did you find your experience? Was it helpful and why/why not?

It was very helpful. My main goal with the mentorship program was to learn from professionals in international business – what they do, how they got to where they are right now, strategies for professional development.

Was it a good match?

Simon was a perfect match. He is involved in regulatory compliance, which is similar to what I currently do. In addition, the discussions were very dynamic, he was very open to discussing my questions and his experience, and understanding what I was hoping to achieve.

Did you get a chance to have meaningful conversations?

Yes, the time was enough for the goals of the discussion. We had a list of general topics to discuss at the outset, which evolved as we had the various calls. We also wrapped up with a summary of the discussions, which helped us stay focused and ensure we explored a variety of topics.

Did you get some help or insights with solving a business problem or with achieving a career or personal development goal?

The biggest help was learning strategies for professional and personal development and types of careers in international business. How to get where I want to go, how to connect with people, how to build on my current experience, things I may be overlooking, new skills to gain, things to continue doing/stop doing. Learning about Simon’s career path provided a lot of insights.

Would you participate in a mentorship opportunity again? If so, is there something that would make it more valuable for you?

Absolutely. Having the opportunity to speak with a professional in the field can be very enlightening. I think this is a great way of learning from others, building one’s professional network, and learning about careers and opportunities.

Would you recommend mentorship to others?

Yes. I would further recommend that as part of the tips provided at the outset of the mentorship program, also include guidance in terms of the sort of topics/areas that can be discussed and other suggestions to make the best of the opportunity.

Lesson: get a mentor and be a mentor to get the most out of mentorship

 

Mentor: Bob Greaves, CITP

Bob GreavesCITP, is the Director of Land Management at Civeo Corporation. Bob is a technology and process professional with more than 25 years of Business Development Leadership experience serving the North American and International energy marketplace.

Mentee: Bruno Hernandes Gomes

Bruno Hernandes Gomes is Project Coordinator at Enactus Centennial College, and is intellectually curious and passionate about business development.

Bob, the mentor

How did you find your experience? Was it valuable and why/why not?

I found speaking with Bruno to be rewarding. He and his wife have made a major commitment to move to Canada and I was honoured to have the opportunity to speak with him and to share thoughts as to his ideas on what he’d like to explore next in his career.

Did you get a chance to have meaningful conversations?

Because we are located in different cities and time zones, we never had the opportunity to meet in person. Bruno was very flexible in arranging discussion times, however, and we managed to coordinate calendars so as to have regular discussions.

Do you feel that you contributed some value to your mentee?

It is my hope that Bruno found some value in speaking with me. I look forward to remaining in contact with Bruno, understanding what he intends to focus upon and assisting in any way possible in the future.

Would you participate in a mentorship opportunity again? If so, is there something that would make it more valuable for you?

I would gladly participate again. Don’t know if local mentorship works more effectively than a long distance effort. I admit that I experienced frustration not being able to introduce Bruno to my network here in Western Canada in order to assist his explorations and broaden the support that I might be able to provide for he and his wife.

Would you recommend mentorship to others?

Wholeheartedly. As a person who has both benefitted (and continues to do so) from being mentored as well as being happy to support others as a mentor, I find the experience to be both rewarding and fulfilling. Thank you for the opportunity to participate.

Bruno, the mentee

How did you find your experience? Was it helpful and why/why not?

I believe the experience was extremely good, mainly to open up my mind on how to match my skills, past experiences and education with the Canadian market and the degree I am currently acquiring. It was definitely valuable and I am glad to know that Bob, just like me, is looking forward to remaining in touch, because if there was a way the experience could be enhanced it was due to my busy agenda juggling studies, volunteer, and part-time work. I am sure I will take extra advantage from this experience and Bob’s valuable insights once I graduate next April and truly start my transition.

Was it a good match?

I believe so and it is hard not to be when in touch with someone with the experience, network and the open mind that Bob has.

Did you get a chance to have meaningful conversations?

Yes, we did. Like I mentioned before, if it could be better it would be from my end, due to my agenda. Bob was always promptly available and rapidly answering my e-mails when I reached out.

Did you get some help or insights with solving a business problem or with achieving career or personal development goal?

Yes. We didn’t get to the point of discussing many businesses problems but Bob presented alternatives to achieve my career goals that I had not thought or considered before, pointing out some unique aspects of my education – such as Portuguese fluency, food engineering, etc, that I had thought I would never use again in life.

I want to work with business development/analysis with a focus on international relations/trade.

Just adding to that, as Bob already pointed out to me, it is more likely that I will start solving problems in the domestic environment, learning and proving my value to work my way up to the foreign environment.

Regarding industry, I have experience in the food and fashion industry, and I am primarily looking for an opportunity in the former.

However, it is important to point out that I am highly intellectually curious and I find many other industries interesting as well. That is what attracts me in business development/analysis, the specialization is important to get a competitive advantage but from an entry-level point of view, skills such as critical and analytical thinking can be as important as previous experience in a specific industry.

Did you achieve a milestone or a significant turning point?

I know I will because the time is coming to use Bob’s insights.

Would you participate in a mentorship opportunity again? If so, is there something that would make it more valuable for you?

I definitely would but with more dedicated time exclusively to take the maximum out of the opportunity.

Would you recommend mentorship to others?​

​Yes, and the closer to graduation the better I would say.

 

 

The value of mentorship is complex

The value of mentorship can be measured in many ways, and not just in top-line results, promotions or raises. When it works, it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement that can improve performance, enhance effectiveness and bring about transformational results on both a personal and a professional level.

Are you interested in hearing about future mentorship opportunities? Sign up for FITT’s weekly newsletter today!

Subscribe!

About the author

Nicole Chevrier

Author: Nicole Chevrier

I am a digital media writer and a Content Marketing Specialist with the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT). My background is in digital marketing and communications. Creating content that inspires, informs or delivers on results is my passion.

disqus comments