One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination – John. C. Maxwell
Advisor, friend, motivator, role model—a mentor is different things to different people. For some, mentorship is about seeking guidance and learning from the experience of those who’ve been there and done that. For others, it’s all about finding their strength and becoming aware of an inner potential they never knew existed.
It was precisely with this aim that FITT launched its first Global Mentorship Pilot Program in June 2021. As a global standard for international trade training and certification, FITT has among members of its community a plethora of accomplished Certified International Trade Professionals (CITPs)* who are experts in their respective niches and possess a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Leveraging the skills and experience of these seasoned CITPs to illuminate the paths of aspiring international trade professionals was the driving force behind this pilot mentorship program from FITT.
A unique project that fueled a larger cause
Not only would this initiative offer students, aspiring entrepreneurs, and other like-minded individuals in international business an opportunity to access personal, holistic, and continuing guidance from experienced CITPs, but would also help build a more engaged, recognized, and valuable global CITP community that is actively giving back to the field of international trade.
What it entailed
The mentorship program consisted of a six-month virtual interaction between 5 pairs of selected mentees and CITP mentors. The candidates were selected based on their applications, and the mentors and mentees were then matched based on experience, goals, networks, application questions etc. Each of the matched mentee and mentor pairs decided the frequency of their virtual interactions throughout the six months and responded to monthly feedback about the progress of their mentorship opportunity.
A project team consisting of CITP volunteers was established to support and oversee the program while continuously improving the mentorship experience. Their contribution in volunteering their time and efforts to help organize this program has been pivotal to taking this project from conceptualization to a successful launch.
Meet our CITP mentors
An experience that exceeded expectations
The six months passed by like a breeze, and the pilot mentorship program soon approached its conclusion. This was an excellent time to ask the participants to reflect on the mentorship experience and the value these interactions had added to their professional repertoire.
Much to the satisfaction and delight of the organizers, the feedback received to FITT’s pilot mentorship program more than validated the myriad benefits of mentorship and mentoring.
Here’s what the participants had to say:
“The main reasons why I applied to the FITT mentorship program were the invaluable support that I would receive from a mentor, and because I trusted FITT to match me with the mentor that was the perfect fit for the needs that I had at the moment, which was to enter the Mexican restaurant market with our digital loyalty program”
“The results have surpassed my expectations.”
– Jose Manuel Torio (mentee)
‘I came into the mentorship program with an open mind and desire to have an organic approach with my mentor. We had set some topic of interest for each meet. My mentor delivered resourceful information each time, our topics would always lead to some great discussions. My mentor’s business experience and background were most inspirational, she was able to give me not only valid tips and resources, most importantly she inspired me to push forward in international business.”
– Emmanuelle Atsain (mentee)
Access to timely and expert mentorship is a dream come true for many
An experienced mentor facilitates the opening of unseen doors of possibilities for their mentees, thus proving to be the catalyst that steers them towards success.
“My mentor was Floyd Simpkins, and he was beyond professional, kind and thoughtful in every meeting we had. Floyd not only understood my professional path but also, taught me how to create an action plan for my personal and professional goals. My mentor shared valuable life experiences with me, and he gave me great advice on how to deal with some setbacks I went through a couple of months ago. I can’t thank FITT and Floyd enough for this fantastic opportunity.”
– Valeria Mayorga (mentee)
An opportunity to receive individual guidance from a seasoned professional not only facilitates mentees’ paths towards the accomplishment of their goals but also results in positive personal development.
The greatest advantage of having access to a trusted mentor is developing the ability to recognize one’s strength—thus leading to increased self-awareness and enhanced self-confidence.
Doing international business can be quite complex…, having the support of an experienced mentor is an invaluable asset to succeed in one’s endeavors.
– Jose Manuel Torio (mentee)
“The three most valuable insights that I gained from my mentor are: to never let an opportunity slide or someone else will take it, It’s ok to be the only woman in the conference room, and that it’s important to stay current with politics as whom one votes for reflects with trade agreements.”
– Emmanuelle Atsain (mentee)
The enthusiastic support of the CITP volunteers from the planning committee
The CITP volunteers who were a part of the planning committee have played a major role in shaping and building this pilot endeavour. Their enthusiastic support in giving back to the CITP community has helped open the doors for aspiring business professionals, leading them closer to achieving their goals.
“The experience of being on this committee was very rewarding as it introduced me to some very talented people who were all very dedicated to delivering a program that would meet the professional development needs of its members and potential members of FITT. It is a very humbling but worthwhile experience. You learn so much and grow personally through this experience, and I feel that I have made new friends and mentors of my own by getting to know the other team members. I look forward to participating in any future iterations of this initiative. I also wholeheartedly encourage and recommend participation in this initiative to my fellow members in FITT.”
– Raymond G. Joyce, CITP, member of the Mentorship Program Project Team.
Mentorship—a win-win for both the mentee and mentor
What’s fascinating about mentorship is that both mentor and mentee stand to gain from the unique relationship between them. For our CITP mentors, the mentorship experience proved to be a fulfilling one as it gave them an opportunity to contribute first-hand to help shape their mentee’s professional journey.
The rewards are subtle, yet profound, in having a potentially positive impact on a young professional’s future, in work and life. At the end of the day, I have every confidence in my mentee’s determination and ability to achieve her goals in the future, and I wish her every success.
– Floyd Simpkins, CITP (mentor)
“Though both, mentor and mentee, had established clear objectives about the program development, I believe the outcome went further in terms of expertise-sharing and learning. My mentee shared many ideas and concerns about how to best develop his international business strategy. His openness taught me a lot about his efforts to be a more effective business manager. In exchange, I believe I was able to provide him with insights and some advice to guide his work. I found the whole process satisfying, which led to an excellent personal rapport.”
I found in this program an opportunity to add more value to the international business profession in general. I´d like to thank my mentee for his trust and sincerity, as well as FITT’s pilot mentorship program for leading this initiative.
– Guillermo Larios, CITP (mentor)
Besides the fulfillment of being able to “give back,” mentoring someone sharpens communication skills and offers exposure to a wide range of situations and perspectives, thus helping broaden the scope of knowledge for mentors as well.
“The three most valuable insights that I gained from the program are:
1) As a mentor you need to be ready for any possible change or twist in the life of your mentee – and have the experience and knowledge to guide a mentee through whatever challenges they may face in their life and their work.
2) Patience and consideration are important attributes of a mentor
3) Much of the program’s success depends upon the choice of mentee – and based upon my limited experience, FITT chose well.”
– Floyd Simpkins, CITP (mentor)
FITT’s pilot mentorship program has undoubtedly succeeded in setting in motion the wheels of a wonderful endeavour—creating a channel that connects aspiring entrepreneurs with the experienced wisdom they need to help them realize their goals and ambitions of a lifetime. We look forward to this program gaining momentum and completing several fruitful iterations in the years ahead.
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*Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) is trademarked for use within Canada. FITT International Business Professional (FIBP) is trademarked for use internationally. Both reflect the same FITT-certified designation.