The No. 1 Trick To Kick-Start Your Career

Want to climb the career ladder faster? Grab yourself a mentor.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Want to climb the career ladder faster? Grab yourself a mentor.
TPG/Click Photos
TPG/Click Photos

Janice Allis, founder and managing director of Boost Juice, recently sold a percentage of her company for $65 million – quite the payday. Her success is a result of many factors, but she regularly singles out her mentor, Flight Center co-founder Geoff Harris, as a pivotal person in her life and business. Harris approached Allis in Boost Juice’s third year of operation because he wanted to invest (which he did – 20 percent, thank you very much). These days, the pair meets regularly, and oversees a business that makes more than 10 million dollars profit a year. “Geoff’s changed the direction of Boost Juice – he has the tools from his 20 years at Flight Centre,” Allis says.

Finding a mentor who likes – and looks out for – you can be a careerblossoming move. According to Kayley Riddle, executive mentor at Carnegie Management Group, there’s good reason for it. “In my  experience, women who have mentors will often achieve more promotions.
It shortens the learning curve – a mentor is someone whose hindsight
becomes your foresight.”

So how can you make this apparent miracle happen? “[Mentor
relationships] often evolve organically,” explains Riddle. “A young
employee will show promise, someone more senior will notice, and she
makes time to give the young gun advice.” Some companies have formal
mentor programmes; others enlist mentors from outside. There are also external mentorship initiatives that you can join like the the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (www. ywlc.org.sg).

Kayley herself has had three mentors over the course of her career – one of whom didn’t work at the same company as her. “Talking to someone who wasn’t my boss, but could help me see things from a manager’s perspective, was invaluable. I could speak candidly to him, and he’d guide me without any judgement,” she explains.

So, if someone high up at work takes a shining to you, don’t shy away. In 10 years’ time, you too could be signing the dotted line on a $65 million contract.

GUIDING LIGHTS

Successful women and the mentors who helped them get to the top.
My Reading Room

Stefanie Sun was discovered and mentored by brothers Lee Wei Song and Lee Si Song.

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Elizabeth Taylor was mentored by fellow actress Audrey Hepburn.

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Hillary Clinton sought advice from social ethics professor Donald G. Jones.

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