Thursday, February 22, 2007


The Search for a Mentor

Several years ago, I was on a quest to find a mentor. While attending an event where Ron Williams, CEO of the Aetna was speaking, I saw someone across the room that I determined should be my mentor. Upon crossing the room, I bumped into another executive (who is now retired) whom I struck up a conversation with. He gave me two pieces of wisdom with the first being make sure that you don't get a mentor that exhibits the same traits as you (e.g. nationality, age, profession, etc). The second thing he suggested is that I need to be vigilant in seeking out new perspectives...

Since this event, I have had two mentors. One currently is a high-level executive on the business side for my employer while the second works in IT for a Wall Street firm. Both have given me wonderful perspectives and taught me things about myself that I otherwise wouldn't have learned. For each of this individuals to spend a couple of hours a year, I am eternally grateful.

In the same way employers who practice diversity are wildly successful, so should I. In my career, I have never had a mentor who was female (my original target was) nor anyone born outside of the United States and therefore would like to solve for these two characteristics.

The funny thing is that the principle of six degrees of separation isn't quite in my favor so I must resort to cold calling. Right now, I was thinking about asking Farooq Kathari who is CEO of Ethan Allen, Azim Premji who is CEO of Wipro or Stanley O'Neal, CEO of Merrill Lynch to handle one dimension of diversity while also pinging Carol Ann Petren, EVP and General Counsel of Cigna, Meg McCarthy, CIO of Aetna, Cheryl W. Grise, EVP of Northeast Utilities or Dona D. Young, CEO of the Phoenix for the other dimension.

Any predictions of whether I would be successful reaching out to these individuals?

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