Jane Adler recently participated in the Boston Business Journal’s Mentoring Monday event which brought together 40 top business leaders in Boston, including Adler, with approximately 100 women interested in being mentored. Adler is an advocate of mentoring others in the workplace, both women and men, and sees it as a way to both develop staff and give back to the next generation of business leaders.
1.) Why do you think is it important to mentor others?
Many younger professionals need someone who has more experience to support them and to have someone whom they can rely upon to ask questions about their field of expertise or about anything. I mentor both women and men but I do feel a special responsibility to mentor women because it’s the right time. Women should have every opportunity to be perceived as an employee not just as a women employee. There is gender disparity in many industry sectors and we all need to work on breaking down those barriers and put women in the position to have leadership opportunities, and that starts with mentoring.
2.) Did you have any mentors in your life when you began your career?
I did not have any mentors, except my Dad. I never have had a mentor in my field who was accessible to me and to ask questions of. It would have been really helpful because there were not a lot of people like me in my field at the time I was starting my career, which is another reason why I spend time mentoring others.
3.) What is the one piece of advice you give that you wish you received when starting out in your career?
Ask as many questions as you can. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. People can arrive at different interpretations of the same issue so there are many nuances and asking questions helps to make the nuances more clear. People respond to other people asking questions. Asking questions is a positive thing, not a negative.
4.) In the financial services industry, does it help to have mentors and why?
In the commercial real estate industry, it really helps to have mentors because everything happens from relationships. Most of the activity and transactions come about because of referrals and knowing people. To be part of that network, you have to establish relationships.
5.) How does a young professional go about looking for a mentor?
Young professionals should look for people with whom they feel comfortable. On the job, I would encourage young professionals to take an assessment of people they encounter every day and see who would be a good fit for a mentor. What attributes of theirs do you admire? You can also look outside the scope of your office and reach out to someone whom you do not know, but with whom you want to create a relationship. Find their contact information and make an introduction. The worst thing that can happen is that they don’t respond. The best thing that could happen is that you gain a relationship.
For a more complete discussion with Jane Adler on mentoring, listen to the podcast.