What’s the Secret Ingredient to Great Mentorship?

This article was written by Susie Allen and based on the research of Yifang Ma, Satyam Mukherjee and Brian Uzzi. It can be found at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

It’s not just subject-matter expertise, according to a new study.

“Find a mentor.” It’s a piece of career advice so commonplace many of us have never given it a second thought. But does it hold up to scrutiny? What does the evidence tell us about the perks of mentorship?

Until recently, nothing conclusive. Some scholars even suggested that mentorship had troublesome side effects, including favoritism and “cloning,” mentors’ tendency to push protégés toward career paths exactly like their own.

But new research from Brian Uzzi, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, shows that mentorship is indeed beneficial—especially when mentors pass down unwritten, intuitive forms of knowledge. The study, which analyzes the careers of more than 37,000 scientist mentors and protégés, suggests that mentors who pass on tacit knowledge gained through their work experience rather than codified skills produce mentees who are significantly more likely to become superstars of their fields.

What’s more, “mini-mes” don’t necessarily thrive. Protégés are most successful when they work on different topics than their mentors.

For many of us, that’s a new way of thinking about mentorship. “People almost always think of the mentor as the really active element. The mentee is the passive element, absorbing the mentor’s knowledge,” Uzzi says. “Some of that’s true, but it turns out it’s really not a one-way arrow. It’s incumbent upon the mentee to branch out, take their mentor’s tacit knowledge, and do something that breaks new ground. The mentee has a big responsibility for their own success.”

Yet strong mentorship is currently facing a serious threat: COVID-19. Since the tacit knowledge that makes mentors valuable is best imparted face-to-face, Uzzi worries that the loss of in-person communication may hurt mentees’ career prospects.

Quantifying the Value of a Mentor

Uzzi and his collaborators—Yifang Ma of Southern University of Science and Technology, China, and Satyam Mukherjee of the Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, both former post-doctoral fellows at Kellogg—were able to conduct the study thanks to a new digital tool. In the last decade, scientists have created massive databases of their fields’ intellectual “family trees,” tracking which scholars advised which students.

Uzzi, Ma, and Mukherjee pulled data from these family trees and linked them to other relevant information, such as job placements, grants and awards, and publications. Their data set ultimately included 37,157 scientists and mentees and the 1,167,518 papers they produced between 1960 and 2017.

“It’s incumbent upon the mentee to branch out, take their mentor’s tacit knowledge, and do something that breaks new ground.”

— Brian Uzzi

But the researchers had a major hurdle to overcome. Mentees aren’t randomly assigned to mentors, so it’s hard to know whether their successes or failures can be attributed to mentorship or other factors. “The mentors who generally have the best records and the best reputation tend to attract students who have the most talent coming into the program to begin with,” Uzzi says.

This phenomenon, called assortativity, had thwarted previous studies of mentorship. Fortunately, their massive data set allowed Uzzi and his coauthors to undertake analyses that weren’t possible before.

First, they identified six groupings of mentors who looked “exactly like each other on paper,” Uzzi says: they taught in the same fields at equally prestigious institutions, advised the same number of students each year, published the same amount, and were cited the same amount. As expected, these statistically identical mentors attracted students of similar talent, as measured by their first job placements, lab sizes, and IQs (obtained from Mensa International).

With the assortativity problem accounted for, Uzzi says, “we still had one other problem, which was, how are we going to see if mentors pass on valuable information to their mentees or not?”

A “Hidden” Skill That Sets Good Mentors Apart

The researchers wanted to understand what mentors were or weren’t passing along to their mentees. So they came up with an idea: They had already identified groupings of identical mentors. What if, within each grouping, they could identify one mentor with a special, hidden trait and see whether or not they passed it to their students?

Eventually, they hit on the perfect “hidden” skill to study: the ability to produce research that goes on to win scientific prizes. Prize-winning papers “tend to go after really particular and important problems and answer them in not just competent but stylish ways,” Uzzi explains.

Of course, once a scholar has won a major scientific prize, they will attract stronger students. So the researchers confined their analysis to the years before researchers received their prizes.

They focused their statistical analysis on “groups of essentially indistinguishable mentors attracting students of the same quality, except one mentor in each of these groups has a hidden quality: they’re going to be a future prizewinner,” Uzzi says. That meant they could compare how the students of future prizewinners and non-prizewinning mentors fared.

The Best Mentors Pass Along “Special Sauce”

When the researchers analyzed the performance of protégés of future prizewinners and non-prizewinners, the differences were striking: students who studied under a future prizewinner were almost six times more likely to become superstars in their field than equally talented students of non-prizewinners. (The researchers defined “superstars” as scientists who had won major prizes, were members of the National Academy of Sciences, and were among the top 25 percent most-cited scholars in their field.) Clearly, prizewinning mentors did indeed pass along what Uzzi calls the “special sauce” to their students.

But as they went deeper into their statistical analysis, the researchers found other intriguing patterns. To their surprise, the differences between the students of future prizewinners and non-prizewinners didn’t emerge right away. In fact, in the first ten years of their careers, the students of non-prizewinners published more papers, were cited more, and had more coauthors than the students of future prizewinners. But in the second decade of their careers, the students of future prizewinners begin to outflank them.

Uzzi has a theory as to why. “In science, it’s generally easier to publish solid work that isn’t controversial in any way,” he says. “It takes time for the best ideas to mature and for scientists to begin to see the real value of work that is more controversial. That may explain why the students of the future prizewinners eventually overtake the students of the non-prizewinning mentors.”

Another surprise: the most successful protégés of all are those who study under future prizewinners but ultimately go on to work in different subject areas.

In some ways, this goes against conventional wisdom: students who are successful and carry on their mentors’ work are often perceived as rising stars. But in the long run, the most successful scientists are those who chart their own paths.

“When a student gets this ‘special sauce’ and they apply it to being a mini-me of their mentor, they still do well. But if they apply it to an original new topic of their own, they do even better,” Uzzi says. “You want the special sauce, but if you also apply it to something new, the special sauce is even more valuable to you.”

Great Mentors Offer More than Just Expertise

So, what exactly goes into the special sauce? The current research doesn’t provide a full recipe, but offers a few hints. First, it’s clear that the best mentors pass on something that goes far beyond subject-matter expertise. (If that were the case, mini-me mentees would have been the most likely to succeed.)

Uzzi and his coauthors believe that what’s being passed between future prizewinners and protégés is tacit knowledge. Mentees aren’t just learning concrete skills from their mentors. They’re also picking up how their mentors come up with research questions, how they brainstorm, how they interact with collaborators, and so on—knowledge that is difficult to codify and often learned by doing.

That’s especially important to consider in the age of COVID-19, when more and more of our interactions take place through screens, and some have begun to question whether remote mentorship can replace the in-person variety.

“As far as we know, the fullest transfer of tacit knowledge is conveyed in person,” Uzzi says. “What this research says to me is that you really want to respect the value of face-to-face interaction.”

“It’s so important that as we succeed, we lift others along the way”

Two-time interVivos Mentor talks about her experience in the interVivos mentorship program

By: Naz Soni Uppal
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/naz-sohni/   

My name is Naz Sohni Uppal. I am an accomplished, multi-award-winning radio and television correspondent and producer. Spreading joy and uplifting others have become a huge part of my success. I have been a mentor with interVivos 2 times.

During the interVivos Fall 2018 Mentorship Program, my protégé was Giselle General. Giselle is very passionate and actively works with the community in various ways. She is also a repeat interVivos protégé. When I met her, she was already on the right track to pursue her dreams. 

Giselle and I worked together on establishing meeting dates that would work for both of us. We always tried to choose fun and comfortable meeting locations that were good for conversation and learning with great food and a unique atmosphere, whether it was a small family-owned restaurant or a small privately-owned coffee shop.

During our meetings, we discussed Giselle’s goals and the things she wanted to work on. I gave her take-home activities, such as a vision board, and we discussed the direction Giselle wanted to take in her professional life. Her goal is to become a leader in her field and community one day. 

We spoke a lot about how our journeys were similar and because of that, I was able to offer her valuable tips. We also talked about hopes for the future. Throughout the 6 months, I really wanted her to take a look at what was important to her. 

Our relationship worked because we respected each other’s input and listened to one another. Giselle was willing to share her past experiences with me and I was willing to do the same. We both actively contributed to discussions. I enjoyed all of our conversations. 

Giselle was looking for a mentor who was passionate about community issues; willing to share their journey and challenges; and would help her chase her dreams. I hope she found that in me.

It’s so important that as we succeed; we lift others along the way. It’s mutually beneficial too. As we lift others, we rise higher ourselves. I know Giselle will do great things with her future and I look forward to seeing her achieve her goals. 

When you decide to mentor someone with interVivos, you help that person achieve. You share your failures and your successes. You advise and so much more. I had a very positive experience taking part in the interVivos Mentorship Program and I will definitely do it again. This program is very well organized and the board members are so friendly, sweet and very easy to talk to. If you are interested in either being a mentor or protégé, you should reach out to interVivos.

Click here to read protégé Giselle’s story. 

Next up for interVivos is our Summer 2020 Mentorship Program launch that will take place virtually on July 14, 2020. Stay tuned for more information about our Fall 2020 Mentorship Program that will launch this November. Join our mailing list so you don’t miss the chance to register as a protégé. If you are interested in being a mentor like Naz, please email mentorship@intervivos.ca 

“Having someone tell you that you are on the right track is a big deal”

Two-time interVivos Protégé talks about her experience in the interVivos mentorship program

By: Giselle General
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gisellegeneral/

The interVivos mentorship program was my first experience with a formal mentorship program. Throughout university and shortly after, I kept hearing about the value of having mentors for one’s professional and personal life. I never had one until this program. 

In 2018 I was matched with my first inverVivos mentor, an older gentleman named Ken Cantor. I had such a great experience that when interVivos wanted to interview us about our experience, I immediately said yes. After the formal mentorship period concluded we continued to stay in touch. And then, I signed up again! 

This time around, my mentor was Naz Sohni Uppal. Naz is a well-respected, well-recognized, multi-award-winning radio and television correspondent and producer in Edmonton’s media landscape. She was in Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2014 and I thought that was incredible! I chose her because there is another aspect of my future that I have not had a formal mentor for, and that is my creative side. 

At the same time, I heard many times that it is valuable to have a mentor that has some similarities to you. With my first mentor, we had very little in common and that is why I liked it a lot! But this time around, what influenced my choice  was similarities that I felt we had. And I was right! 

Naz and I had our meetings between January and June 2019. From my impression, she was not that much older than me which I thought was good. I asked her a lot of questions about her career journey, tips about some of the things I’m pursuing, some harsh realities that I suspected that women, immigrants, and people of colour are likely to experience, and her thoughts about my ambitious goals in the near future. We explored unique and small cafés throughout the city for our meeting locations. For someone like me who does not eat out at restaurants often, this was another opportunity to explore corners of the city I would not have discovered otherwise. 

During our mentorship meetings, I realized how having someone tell you that you are on the right track is a big deal. While unpleasant to hear at the time, having someone remind you of the harsh realities you might have to face, particularly as a woman of colour, was also reassuring to me. The “homework” that she asked me to do was meaningful. It felt like I was talking to a cool cousin or aunt. I felt the same about my other mentor who was like a wise older uncle.

Pursuing opportunities to learn from others is worthwhile, and it is something that anyone, no matter what age, or status in their professional life, should find time for. Given my personal style, I prefer being part of a more structured program and arrangement, though I have heard of many informal relationships forming as well. 

The interVivos mentorship program is also a great example of the power of social media when used positively and productively.  I discovered interVivos through social media. By actively engaging in their announcements, I found a program that ended up fitting my goals at the time. 

Click here to read mentor Naz’s story. 

Next up for interVivos is our Summer 2020 Mentorship Program launch that will take place virtually on July 14, 2020. Stay tuned for more information about our Fall 2020 Mentorship Program that will launch this November. Join our mailing list so you don’t miss the chance to register as a protégé. If you are interested in being a mentor like Naz, please email mentorship@intervivos.ca 

interVivos launches Summer 2020 Mentorship Program virtually

Registrations Are Now Closed

Thank you for your interest in interVivos. We’ve been connecting people from all backgrounds for nearly 15 years through important dialogue, engagements, mentorship programs and events. Please be sure to check us out on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter). If you have any questions or want to know when we will be hosting our next mentorship launch, please email us at mentorship@intervivos.ca.

 

Registration for Protègès is Now Open

interVivos is launching its virtual Summer 2020 Mentorship Program on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. Ambitious professionals from the Edmonton area are invited to take part in the ever-popular interVivos mentorship program while physically distancing.

interVivos has organized successful mentorship programs in the capital region since 2006. In 2020, things are going to look a bit different. In order to protect the health and wellbeing of all participants, this year’s program launch will be taking place over (you guessed it) Zoom!

The program launch event is interVivos’ tried and true concept. Although we can’t meet in person this summer, protègès and mentors will have the opportunity to network and discuss their professional goals and ambitions.

After the event, participants are paired up based on their preferences. Mentors and protègès will then collaborate over a 5-month period to realize the protègè’s professional goals. Matches are required to meet at least 3 times from August 2020 to December 2020.

“If your goal is to reinvent yourself during the COVID crisis or you are an ambitious professional looking to connect during a disconnected time, check out this program,” says Board President Zohreh Saher.

The Summer 2020 Mentorship program will provide protègès with the opportunity to connect and be paired with Edmonton’s best and brightest. interVivos mentors are highly sought after and come from a variety of backgrounds, careers, and perspectives.

We understand the impact COVID-19 has had on many people. As we are committed to helping our community, protégés will choose their fee to participate in the summer program.

The following are the confirmed mentors for the Summer 2020 mentorship program:

You can register to be a protègè by visiting https://summer2020protege.eventbrite.ca/

Success Story: Our Partnership with Edmonton Heritage Council

Last year, our friends at the Edmonton Heritage Council (EHC) reached out for our support to pilot a mentorship program for heritage-sector professionals. interVivos immediately saw the value of sharing resources and expertise with EHC and partnered with them to support their goal of elevating diverse voices.

EHC is a local non-profit organization that connects Edmontonians to the stories of their city through leadership, support, and programs. In an effort to build professional capacity for Heritage professionals and to aid with succession and sustainability planning in the sector, interVivos mentored EHC in developing the structure for the program and hosting the mentor and protégé matching event.

Overall, the pilot mentorship program was a success and serves as a great example of how organizations can maximize their resources and experience through sharing.

You can read more about our collaboration with EHC here.

If you are interested in mentorship opportunities in Edmonton, our Summer 2020 mentorship program launches on July 14, 2020. Check out our events page for more information on how to register.

 

Why Vote?

This past fall, we partnered with Apathy is Boring to offer over 100 Edmontonians an exciting nonpartisan federal election viewing party and an evening of drag at Evolution Wonderlounge.

We thought it would be good to ask people at the party: “Why vote?”

Their responses were captured on Post-It Notes and here are some of them:

  • “For a better future for my kids!”
  • “For my future!”
  • “For my family.”
  • “For progress!”
  • “For those who can’t – to make a better future!”
  • “To change the world!”
  • “To effect change in my country!”
  • “To protect human rights!”
  • “To set a good example!”
  • “To feel heard!”
  • “To pursue equality for all!”
  • “Because we are so lucky to have the chance – many do not!”
  • “Because I can – women and minorities didn’t always have the opportunity!”
  • “Because I care about children, education, women, health and climate change!”
  • “Because rights come with responsibilities!”
  • “Because I can!”
  • “Because you and I can make a difference if we all vote!”
  • “Because why not?”
  • “I want to vote for those who can’t.”
  • “It is easy and a way to have your voice heard!”
  • “It is EASY!”
  • “It’s my right!”
  • “It’s my civic duty!”
  • “Democracy is important to me!”
  • “It’s my democratic right! I matter!”

A huge thank you to all attendees, performers, and volunteers for helping make this wonderful night a huge success!

Next up for interVivos is our Summer 2020 Mentorship Program launch that will take place virtually on July 14, 2020! Stay tuned for more information and make sure to check our events page often.

Would you like to submit a blog post to interVivos? Email connect@intervivos.ca.

 

 

 

 

Join the interVivos Board!

We are expanding the interVivos board! We are currently looking for people who are civic minded and also have a background in one or more of the following:

  • Strategic planning
  • External communications
  • Fund development

If you have experience with one or more of the above, we invite you to apply before noon on March 15, 2020 to become an interVivos Board Member!

Why should you be an interVivos board member?
Why not? Being an interVivos board member will allow you to connect with engaged leaders, complete tasks that are not part of your normal routine, and get further involved in the community!

A former board member had the following to say of her experience on the board:
“I learned valuable lessons during my time with the board. My understanding of board governance and board accountability developed substantially. I also had the opportunity to meet an incredible amount of people and my network grew. I attribute this to the array of topics and professional paths that intersect at this organization. I was given many chances to try so many new roles and responsibilities. I am so grateful to interVivos and its board members for new friendships, many laughs and diverse experiences.”

What is expected of board members?
Board members are expected to complete a two year term during which they attend monthly board meetings, bi-weekly working sessions, interVivos special events, as well as other ad hoc activities which mostly fall on evenings or weekends. They also complete a variety of administrative tasks to keep a small nonprofit with no staff going. Also, they are interVivos ambassadors who strongly believe in our vision of a generation of inspired and informed leaders.

Interested in applying?
To apply, click here and fill out the application form and upload your resume. Applications close March 15 at noon. We will contact you on the 16th if you have been selected for an interview. Interviews will be taking place only during the evening of March 19 at Incite (10507 Saskatchewan Drive).

Successful candidates MUST be available during the evenings of March 31 and May 7 to attend the Annual General Meeting and the Spring 2020 Mentorship Launch.

Questions? Please email connect@intervivos.ca.

Interview with a Founder: Ardyce Kouri

Ardyce Kouri is a partner and owner of Leaders International, an organization designed to support their clients in identifying the senior leadership they need to keep driving their organizations forward. Ardyce is also a founding board member of interVivos and served many roles within the organization as a board member, volunteer, mentor and now an advisor.

Given her extensive professional network and business expertise, Ardyce is highly qualified to offer advice to young business professionals. She encourages young businesspeople to, “identify a core group of professionals to help you deal with any potential challenges that will undoubtedly arise as you navigate your business journey.” She also preaches the importance of volunteerism: “Stay involved in the community.  Volunteer; sit on a board; stay connected. This helps you stay balanced and also helps your network grow.”

Ardyce has also been an advocate for building mentoring relationships. She was “lucky to work with some great partners at Leaders International (formerly Davies Park) and was mentored by all of them, included the founders – Gerry Davies and Darwin Park.” Ardyce credits her mentorship opportunities for much of her professional growth: “Having the opportunity to learn from a variety of leaders was great as I learned different perspectives and approaches, as I developed my own.” Ardyce is now key in helping other young business professionals develop their leadership approaches as a mentor. “Whenever you get a chance to meet someone new and listen to their experience you can learn something. Even if you are considered the ’mentor’ you are still getting a chance to learn and grow as a professional. It’s great!” Expanding, Ardyce adds, “By mentoring a young businessperson, you will add value to someone else, but you will also learn something about yourself in the process. It’s a win-win.”

As a founding member of interVivos, Ardyce highly encourages everyone to become involved with the organization as either a mentor or a protégé: “When I was asked to be a mentor, I was honoured and excited. I know the power a positive mentoring relationship can have on both protégé and mentor and I felt I could make a positive difference. interVivos is a diverse group and you will get the opportunity to learn from many different people and expand your perspective. You will also find it supportive and dynamic!”

The Winter 2019 Mentorship Program launches on December 10, 2019. To register, please check: https://bit.ly/2XHniyl .

interVivos launches Summer 2019 Mentorship Program

interVivos is launching its Summer 2019 Mentorship Program Wednesday, June 19, 2019. interVivos is inviting ambitious professionals from across the capital region to take part in its ever-popular mentorship program and have the opportunity to connect with highly sought-after mentors.

interVivos has organized close to 20 mentorship programs since the society started in 2006. This year interVivos will provide protègès the opportunity to be paired with successful women with varied careers, backgrounds and perspectives.

The Mentorship Program launch is a unique and engaging concept. Protègès and mentors will have the opportunity to meet with all the participants, discuss what their goals are in person, and then choose who the best match would be for them.

Our speakers from #girlbossyeg 2018! This is the event that influenced the all-female mentor lineup for the 2019 Summer Mentorship program! Photo by Karen Lee

“Allowing our participants the choice, increases the likelihood that the partnership will be fruitful for everyone involved,” says Board President, Zohreh Saher. “We are especially excited to showcase the talented and successful women in our community with our first all-female mentor group.”

The program launches June 19 and begins in early August. It runs for 6 months and matches are expected to meet at least three times. If you’re an ambitious professional in the capital region, you can learn more about the program and register as a protègè by visiting this Eventbrite link.

Why Mentoring Matters, and How to Get Started

This article was originally written by Lizz Schumer and can be found at NY Times

“I want the women that I mentor around me to see those possibilities, how they can make a difference when someday they’re in charge,” Ms. Hochul, now New York’s lieutenant governor, said. “I want them to have a more expansive view of their potential. And to me, mentoring is all about letting them see and then helping them find the path to get there.”

While mentoring benefits all participants, it is especially important for young women. A 2015 study from the University of California Haas School of Business found that women gained more social capital from affiliation with a high-status mentor than their male counterparts did. The Department of Labor reports that today, 57 percent of women participate in the work force. As work force demographics continue to change, encouraging mentors and mentees to seek one another out might be more important than ever.

Mentorship advances careers. A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people with mentors are more likely to get promotions. That’s no accident. Jenni Luke, chief executive of the national teen mentorship organization StepUp, knows that those relationships can help propel young women to success.

“When I go into a room full of people and I say, ‘Raise your hand if you’ve gotten your job through somebody,’ every hand goes up,” Ms. Luke said. “Every single person on earth has social capital, and you want to use it with intentionality.”

When mid- and senior-level employees choose to mentor someone newer to the work force, they can boost people who may not otherwise have those opportunities and help level the playing field.

Many companies are “hiring in these kinds of closed networks,” Ms. Luke said. “And unless you’re willing to really understand that and open up your networks,” she added, “the network of folks coming into jobs continues to narrow.”

Mentorship also exposes both parties to new ideas and perspectives. Arlene Kaukus, the director for career services at the University at Buffalo, said she believed that was becoming more and more important, as workplace demographics continue to change.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2024 less than 60 percent of the work force is likely to define itself as “white non-Hispanic.” Latinx people could comprise 20 percent of the labor force in 2024. The proportion of African-Americans in the work force is also projected to rise, to 12.7 percent in 2024 from 12.1 percent in 2014, and the proportion of Asians to 6.6 percent in 2024 from 5.6 percent in 2014.

“The importance of being able to see things from different people’s points of view based on their life experience, their culture, their ethnicity, their gender, becomes even more important,” Ms. Kaukus said.

Ms. Luke emphasized that mentoring should not be paternalistic. “It’s very much reciprocal, and there’s so much to be learned from the younger generation,” she said. Both sides are “meeting different types of people, understanding different experiences, and really growing their own network of young, up-and-coming professionals to be able to support or to be able to offer opportunities.”

Ms. Kaukus, who also volunteers as a mentor to international students, said she also learned a lot from those she mentors. It affords mentors “an opportunity to reach back and continuously develop talent and pay back for the wonderful extension of mentorship that perhaps they were granted at some point in their career,” she said. “I think that is a powerful motivator. And it’s also a powerful benefit for the mentor.”

For the full article, click the link above.