Registration for Protégés is now open

interVivos is launching its Fall 2020 Mentorship Program on December 1, 2020. This Edmonton program will showcase Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) volunteer mentors. Ambitious professionals from all backgrounds are invited to take part as protégés in the ever-popular mentorship program.

Since 2006, interVivos has connected over 600 high caliber mentors and protégés through its mentorship programs. Mentors are highly sought after and come from a variety of backgrounds, careers, and perspectives. They are volunteers who are looking to give back to their community by sharing their ideas and experiences to assist protégés in their career journey. The Fall 2020 Mentorship Program is an opportunity for BIPOC mentors to empower the next generation of Edmonton’s BIPOC leaders.

“It is important to take proactive and purposeful action to ensure that different voices are heard, included, and supported across the spectrum of roles,” says Jason Syviaxy, former interVivos mentor and Fall  2020 launch event emcee. “If we fail to challenge the system, we perpetuate the norm, which means that we wait for change to catch up rather than embracing and meeting it.”

interVivos mentorship programs are offered twice per year and typically begin with an in-person launch event. Propelled by the virtual Summer 2020 mentorship launch’s success, interVivos will launch the Fall Program over Zoom. Mentors and protégés will connect through Zoom “breakout rooms” for group engagement activities, one-on-one speed rotations, and networking opportunities.

After the launch, mentors and protégés are matched up based on their preferences. The matches will work together over six months to learn from each other, collaborate, and reach professional goals. The program runs from January to June 2021, and matches are required to meet at least three times, either virtually or in-person, with appropriate COVID-19 measures in place.

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

You can register to be a protégé by visiting:

Read the FAQs about our Fall 2020 Mentorship program.

Program Sponsors

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: Park Power.

Thank you to our program sponsors: Incite, VSM Photo, Coffee Ring Studio, E & J Watch and Jewellery Repair West Edmonton Mall, Soni Dasmohapatra, JGR Communications, Leaders International, Anne McLellan, Doughnut Party, RSM Canada, and Altitude Investments.

Mentorship makes a difference. If you look through our blog, you’ll find plenty of reasons why having someone tell you that you are on the right track is a big deal. There is something to be said about connecting with a mentor who has had similar experiences as you, especially for professionals who are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (or BIPOC). 

interVivos has chosen to highlight many amazing BIPOC volunteer mentors in Edmonton for our Fall 2020 Mentorship Program Launch to help amplify these community voices. 

When we asked one of our former interVivos mentors, Dr. Bonnieca ‘Bonnie’ Islam, about her thoughts on the impact of having more BIPOC individuals in leadership positions, she said that “it would give BIPOC individuals, especially females, more confidence to apply for these positions.” Speaking from her own experience, she said, “I have turned down opportunities in the past due to my lack of confidence in my abilities and questioned ‘why would people listen to a young-looking brown female?’”

Being a BIPOC professional brings its unique challenges in career development. BIPOC individuals are underrepresented in leadership positions. Systemic oppression makes it possible for others to make assumptions about your character, punctuality, or work ethic based on your skin colour. It can be incredibly challenging to navigate these barriers to success without the help of a mentor who understands your experience. 

As a former mentor, Bonnie shared, “I do believe mentors can share their struggles but also their accomplishments. Encourage the protégés that their race or gender should not hold them back. I always like to point out to protégés when I did not think race or gender gave me any disadvantage.” 

A relationship with a mentor who has also struggled with barriers and glass ceilings in their leadership journey is invaluable to a protégé. The insight from the mentor not only shows the protégé that it’s possible to move up, but the mentor can also offer tools to help overcome these challenges. When more BIPOC mentors exist, more BIPOC people will rise to leadership positions. 

Jason Syvixay, one of our Summer 2020 mentors and Fall 2020 Program Launch emcee, says, “Creating space for BIPOC individuals to meet, to gather, to connect, and to share stories may help in creating networks of support and amplify perspectives within an organization or workplace.”

With this program launch, we’re allowing BIPOC mentors with different backgrounds and perspectives to connect and empower the next generation of leaders. This is especially important as it will help increase the diversity of the leadership teams who will become the future decision-makers. 

This blog was originally posted in the Fall of 2020. Our Fall 2021 mentorship program launches on September 14, 2021. You can register to be a protégé here.

Register to be a protégé by visiting:

Why is interVivos organizing a mentorship program focused exclusively on BIPOC mentors?

The interVivos board is thrilled to highlight many amazing Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) volunteer mentors in the Edmonton community.  We recognize the importance of diversity and support one another in creating a sense of belonging for all. interVivos is fiercely non-partisan, but diversity has always been one of our values. 

BIPOC citizens are generally underrepresented in leadership positions, leaving a gap in diversity and workforce perspectives. If fewer people mentor BIPOC people, fewer BIPOC people will rise to leadership positions. The program is an opportunity for BIPOC mentors with varied careers, backgrounds, and perspectives to empower the next generation of BIPOC leaders.

Who can register to be a protégé in this program?

Protégés from all backgrounds are welcome to register. We have always encouraged our protégés to pick a mentor who looks different from them and/or has a different professional background from them.  

Do I have to live in Edmonton to participate in the program?

Yes. interVivos is an Edmonton-based nonprofit, and our mentorship programs are focused on supporting our community. Although the program will launch virtually due to COVID-19, we are hopeful that it will be safe for mentors and protégés to meet in person in early 2021 for their match meetings.

What kind of support does interVivos provide to protégés? 

interVivos is creating a safe space for all participants to share their experiences. We use an open-door policy to build trust and a supportive environment. The interVivos board has completed diversity and inclusion training to ensure the program is impactful and serves all participants well. We have several tools and resources available for protégés to prepare for the launch and throughout the program.

What will the BIPOC mentors get out of the program?

Our mentors are volunteers who are looking to give back to their community. Mentors will share their ideas and experiences as a BIPOC leader in Edmonton to assist you in your career journey. 

What will protégés work on during the program?

We understand that some of the protégés in this program may wish to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities associated with being a BIPOC professional in Edmonton. We welcome this, but our mentorship programs offer protégés so much more.

Protégés leave our mentorship programs with enhanced confidence and leadership skills. Others work towards concrete goals that they have set out for themselves, such as creating a business plan or a website.  To find out about the experiences of past protégés in other programs, check out our blog posts featuring Stephen and his mentor Nafisa and Giselle and her mentor Ken.

Will I find a job at the end of the program?

Our mentorship programs are not a platform to ask mentors for a job. This upcoming program is no different. Protégés should pursue this mentorship program if they are looking to elevate their career, change career paths, develop a specific goal, or solve a personal or professional challenge (for example, imposter syndrome). A mentor’s role is to listen, guide, provide constructive feedback, and help you achieve actionable outcomes within the program’s six-month duration. 

Why is there a cost to the mentorship program?

We are a volunteer-run nonprofit. Protégés pay a small fee to keep our operating expenses low and our programs affordable for all Edmontonians. For each program, interVivos uses a portion of revenue to offer no-cost protégé spots to diverse community organizations.  

Typically, interVivos charges our protégés $80 to participate in a mentorship program. We are hardly in a typical time, and the virtual mentorship program’s price reflects the economic reality. interVivos is proud to provide protégé spots on a sliding scale of either $50, $60, or $70 to allow you to pay what you can for a protégé spot. 

How does a virtual mentorship launch work?

We had our first virtual mentorship launch this past summer on Zoom. Mentors and protégés could connect by utilizing the “breakout rooms” feature in Zoom for the speed rotations and networking. 

How does interVivos recruit the protégés?

interVivos protégé spots sell out quickly and the program often has a waiting list.  

All interVivos protégés self-select to be a part of the program. Many hear about the program through social media, our mailing list, our board members, and past mentors and protégés. Some are even repeating protégés who want to work on different goals with another mentor.

How does the organization select the mentors?

Our volunteer mentors are referred to us by former mentors, former protégés, board members, the interVivos Advisors, sponsors, and volunteers. We select mentors for each program to ensure that we have mentors representing diverse professional backgrounds, genders, ages, and racial backgrounds.

Some mentors have reached out to interVivos directly and asked if they can participate. We do some informal screening to ensure that protégés get the best mentors available in the community.

We are also excited to have some former protégés become mentors over the years. And some mentors ask to mentor again! If you know of any potential mentors for future programs, please email at any time.

Will mentors and protégés be able to meet in person during the 6-month program?

interVivos advises that all mentors and protégés follow Alberta Health Service guidelines and City of Edmonton bylaws (check their websites often for the most up to date information). During the program, matches must meet at least three times. This may be done virtually or in-person with Covid-19 protocols in place (physical distancing, mask use, etc.). 

Read more about The Importance of Mentors who are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour.  

Register to be a protégé by visiting:

This Kellogg Insight podcast is based on insights from Diane Brink and Carter Cast. It can be found at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Getting the right words of wisdom at the right time can make all the difference to your career. But how do you make that happen—both for yourself and for others around you?

In this episode of the Kellogg Insight podcast, we hear from Diane Brink, a senior fellow and adjunct professor within the Kellogg School’s Markets & Customers Initiative who served as CMO for IBM’s global technology services about her own journey from protégé to mentor. Then Carter Cast, a clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Kellogg, describes how you can solicit advice that can help accelerate your career even in the absence of a mentor.



Podcast Transcript

Jessica LOVE: Early in her career, Diane Brink was labeled a high-potential future executive. Her employer put her on a senior leadership development track. She was hungry to become an executive. And there was a point when it looked like it was finally going to happen.

Diane BRINK: I had, in my view, based upon all of the input that I had gotten from my management, done everything that I could have possibly done. My next job was going to be that executive job. Checked off every single box in the development plan. My manager came to me and said, “We’ve got this great opportunity. We want you to be the executive assistant to the CFO of North America.” And I wanted to scream, but I didn’t.

LOVE: Executive … assistant.

No, Brink didn’t scream. Instead, she did something much better. She got some career advice.

BRINK: So, I called this man, who I had worked for, and he listened to me. He listened to my frustration. He said to me, “So Diane, how long do you think you’re going to be working for?” I said, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe 25, 35 years.” He said, “These EA jobs are typically 12 to 18 months. So, do you think that there might be something that you’d learn in those 12 to 18 months that might help you down the road?” I literally put my head in my lap because what he was saying was so obvious. It was right in front of me, and I didn’t see it.

LOVE: Brink took the executive assistant job. And as her mentor predicted, what she learned and who she met ended up being incredibly valuable. From that position, she eventually rose to become IBM’s chief marketing officer for global technology services. She’s now a senior fellow and adjunct professor within the Kellogg School’s Markets & Customers Initiative.

Getting the right words of wisdom at the right time can make all the difference to your career. But how do you make that happen?

Welcome to the Kellogg Insight podcast. I’m your host, Jessica Love. Today, our producer Fred Schmalz talks to Kellogg faculty members Diane Brink and Carter Cast about how to find and develop trusted sources of career advice. That can mean establishing a formal relationship with a mentor. Or it can mean seeking out less formal feedback from colleagues and higher-ups about what will help you advance in your company. Stay with us.

Fred SCHMALZ: Diane Brink has gained so much from being mentored that she now routinely mentors others. From her experience on both sides of that mentor–protégé relationship, she’s developed a rock-solid sense of what a healthy, productive mentoring arrangement should look like.

Perhaps the most important thing mentors can do, she says, is to offer nonjudgmental support.

BRINK: The whole idea behind the mentoring relationship is that it’s a penalty-free environment. But unless you create an environment that is open and trusting, you might not necessarily get really what’s on a person’s mind or what’s bothering them or something they really want to ask you but they don’t feel comfortable asking because you happen to be somewhat more senior than they are.

SCHMALZ: A good mentor is also someone who prioritizes being a good mentor.

There are plenty of people who would be glad to act as a sounding board … in theory. But when it comes to making time on their calendar, things just never seem to happen.

Or maybe they show up physically, but aren’t really present.

BRINK: Some mentors fail because they haven’t really embraced the role. They’re there just to listen but not to engage. That’s not very helpful. It’s a missed opportunity for the mentor, and it’s also a missed opportunity for the protégé.

SCHMALZ: Brink has advice for protégés too.

Let’s say you’ve found a mentor who truly makes time for you and who maintains a supportive, nonjudgmental attitude. What should you expect out of the relationship?

According to Brink, the answer may not be as transactional as you think.

BRINK: For example, there was a time I was paired with someone, a young woman exec, who was in the marketing function. A lot of times in function, you do a lot of mentoring to make sure that you’re succession-planning and your talent development is moving into new jobs and opportunities. When we met, she sat down, and not even two minutes into the conversation was a conversation about the next job that she was going to get and how I was going to help her get there.

I had to stop the conversation and say, “Wait, mentoring is not about finding you your next job.”

That’s not your role. Your role is to help that individual realize their potential, offer them perspective for assignments that they might have considered, talk about where their strengths are and maybe work a little bit more on their weaknesses. It’s not about finding this person their next job.

SCHMALZ: As with so much in life, what you get out of mentorship mirrors exactly what you put into it. Brink remembers one protégé who asked to meet monthly. Each time, one week before their meeting, he emailed her an agenda. Not only did that impress the heck out of her, it also demonstrated that he was committed to making the relationship as productive as possible.

Protégés also have to be ready to discuss what they want out of their own careers. A mentor can do many things, but they can’t tell you how to live your life.

BRINK: The first thing I start with is a discussion around, do they know what they want? Do they know what’s important to them?

I talk about the fact that they really drive their career. That they’re going to have a lot of people providing their point of view on what you should be doing with your career, and it’s not their decision. It’s your decision.

One of the things that I will do throughout my mentoring relationships is to encourage the individual to think about where they see themselves four or five jobs from now.

I think it forces the person to think more broadly about their development plan and the types of challenges and potential assignments that they should consider so that they can get there.

SCHMALZ: If both mentor and protégé work at the relationship, it can truly change the trajectory of the protégé’s career.

But Brink is also quick to point out that the benefits of mentoring go both ways. And the rewards for mentors go beyond just feeling good about helping someone else. For instance, mentoring can be a great way to learn about new developments—in your organization and in your industry.

BRINK: You get insight in terms of how the power structure is perceived and the political environment. You get a sense of how the culture is working in the organization. If you’re in a senior position, you don’t necessarily get to see front and center all of those different dimensions of what’s happening at whatever level, whether you’re mentoring a professional, whether you’re mentoring a new manager, or whether you’re mentoring another executive.

I think the other insight is how well is the company communicating the strategy to the employees. I think it’s pretty clear from my seat, but when you’re having a conversation, a business conversation, and you begin to appreciate the fact that, wow, that individual missed this aspect of the strategy—that’s an important learning because it helps me to be better at what we need to do to improve to make sure that we’ve got the engagement in place.

SCHMALZ: In addition to having eyes and ears on the ground in a different level of the company, mentors can benefit from protégés in more practical ways.

BRINK: I was recently paired with what I would characterize as a digital native, who’s just incredible on the social and digital aspects of marketing and the techniques and the tools and just really leading edge. She was working with startup companies out in Silicon Valley. She was dealing with a high-growth, unstructured environment. I was paired with her to help her not go crazy, to kind of say, “There’s a way that you can work through this where you’ll be successful and you’ll thrive in this kind of environment, but let’s talk through how you get there from point A to point B. Never a straight line, but point A to point B.”

What she brought to me was an ability to stay current, more current in the digital universe, because there was no way in my role that I could continue to stay apprised of all of the new tools and techniques and the applications and this and that. Just by talking with her, it allowed me to stay current in an area that was interesting to me and essential to my role.

SCHMALZ: Of course, the satisfaction of helping a young colleague learn and grow is pretty awesome all on its own.

BRINK: The best mentor is the one that really works to understand who you are and is not there to judge you, but is there to just help you realize your full potential.

It’s about giving back. It’s not just about taking. The more that you can understand that and incorporate that into who you are, I think the happier and richer your life is going to be.

SCHMALZ: It’s hard to beat personalized career advice from a long-standing, trusted mentor. But mentors can be hard to come by in some companies or professions. If that’s the position you’re in, here’s some valuable career advice that should apply to just about everyone.

Carter Cast is clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Kellogg. He’s also the former CEO of and the author of The Right (and Wrong) Stuff: How Brilliant Careers are Made—and Unmade, a new book that asks why some talented people flourish while others see their careers stall.

He says that people who excel share three behavioral traits.

Carter CAST: One, they take the initiative. They dive right in. They take accountability for joint outcomes. So if they’re part of a team and there’s a job to be done and things are falling through the cracks because people say, well, that isn’t my area of accountability, and someone else says, well, that’s not my area of accountability—they dive in and do it.

Secondly, they’re good at building relationships. They listen well. They’re open-minded. You know, Saint Francis of Assisi—“They seek to understand before being understood.” And as a result, they engender trust with other coworkers, and so they’re able to enlist them to their cause because they’re a good teammate.

And third, they drive for results. If they say they’re going to get it done Friday, they stay ‘til midnight if they have to to get it out the door on Friday.

“Mentoring is not about finding you your next job.”

— Diane Brink

SCHMALZ: Got that? Take initiative, build relationships, and drive for results, and you are on your way to success.

But what does success look like in practice? Specifically, what should it look like in your job? And no matter how much initiative you take, or how strong your drive for results, do you have the underlying skills—technical or interpersonal—to actually pull it off?

The best way to find out, says Cast, is to actually … ask.

CAST: It’s incumbent on us to ask our boss, “What are the key competencies in this position that really are important that I need to develop?”

SCHMALZ: And if your boss doesn’t seem open to this type of conversation….

CAST: I’ve always gone to peers or people that were a level above me who’ve been there before. Because they can really help you develop that roadmap of success. And generally, they’re flattered when a younger underling says, “I really admire your career, your career trajectory. Can I buy you lunch and can you talk to me about what you’ve learned and what’s important for me to build from a skillset standpoint?” I’ve never had anybody say no when I’ve done that.

People will talk all day about that stuff; they love talking about themselves.

SCHMALZ: Once you have your answer, or better yet, many answers, it’s time to get methodical.

Cast recommends compiling a list—an actual, written list of the skills that you need to have to do your job well—and then grading yourself on each and every one.

CAST: I was in brand marketing and I had a list of about, I think it was 14 activities or skills that I needed to be able to do. For example, I needed to be able to do regression analysis. I needed to be able to do a break-even analysis. Then there was a whole category of strategic marketing, segmenting markets, figuring out how to position products competitively by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the competition…. You get the point.

So there were 14 of them. And then I put, here’s where I am now—a C here, a D here, a B+ here. And then I looked at the areas where I had big gaps, and I just slowly but surely went about trying to narrow that gap between what I knew and what I needed to know.

SCHMALZ: If you need help grading yourself on some of these skills, particularly softer skills that are harder to self-evaluate, why not turn to others? Ask them directly: Do I have the attitude or working style to truly succeed at this company?

When Cast was a senior product marketer at FritoLay, he had a conversation with his boss that dramatically changed his trajectory. Cast had thought he was on the fast track at the company. But in reality, he learned, he’d gotten a reputation as uncooperative. Unmanageable. In other words, unpromotable. He also realized that the only way to change his reputation was to take that feedback—those grades—and put them to use.

CAST: It was up to me to say, OK, I tend to have a problem when the heavy hand of authority pushes on me. How am I going to get better at dealing with authority figures?

SCHMALZ: If that sounds like a painful process, it was for Cast. No one likes to find out that they need a major course correction. But as Cast points out, pain is often the impetus for change. And being able to change … well, that can make a huge difference—both in the way you approach learning and in people’s perceptions about your willingness to take criticism.

CAST: Learning how to be learning-agile is the most important thing you can do for your career.

So what does that mean? It means being open-minded and listening and not talking all the time. Innovators have a six-to-one ratio of questions asked to statements made.

And they’re critical of their own performance and reflective about it. How could I have done that better? What could I have done differently? And they ask people for feedback.

So, having this humility about knowledge and never thinking that you’re on top of your game, always feeling a little bit paranoid that there’s a lot you don’t know and that you’re in a state of beta with yourself and your career. I’m 54, and I’m always in this state of testing and trying new things because I don’t know very much.

LOVE: This program was produced by Jessica Love, Fred Schmalz, Emily Stone, and Michael Spikes. It was written by Anne Ford.

Special thanks to our guests, Diane Brink and Carter Cast.

As a reminder, you can find us on iTunes, Google Play, or our website, where you can read more about how to find the best sources of career advice. Visit us at We’ll be back next month with another episode of the Kellogg Insight podcast.

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.”

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

By: Naz Soni Uppal

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 

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

By: Giselle General

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 

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


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

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.


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.

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