Choosing a Mentor: Why and How

Posted on May 13, 2014 | Karen A. Moores | 0 Comments

I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of work with Atlantic Business Magazine – they have a great team that shows off the major ways that Atlantic Canadian business leaders are charting the course for impressive deals around the world in some of the toughest, most competitive and innovative markets.

My Story: As a fairly new business owner, my business focuses on helping brands use the latest technologies, to grow their e-commerce sales and solutions. I’ve always been interested in technology (I did one of my work terms for school with Bell-Aliant and was part of a Marketing Advisory team for 2 years during my undergraduate life) as well as journalism.

Although not the path I expected, having my own content-meets commerce consultancy was a surprising career turn after working in government policy and communications for many years while also working in the evenings and nights producing content for start-ups across Canada.

When one of good friends, who also is involved in a few growing technology companies, suggested I apply for the Atlantic Business Magazine Super Start-Up program, my automatic thought was to apply for any of the companies (all are equally amazing – lots of Caldwell Partners Top 40s and Atlantic Business Magazine Top 50 CEOs on that mentor list!) I knew and loved. (Bell, my former employer and a brand I value greatly, was actually listed and so were many individuals I admire who have built global brands in Atlantic Canada.)

Less Comfort, More Confidence In selecting a list of three possible mentors, I deviated away from picking the names I trusted and admired to push myself and my business out of my comfort zone.

The company I was most nervous of adding to that list was Maple Trade Finance, run by an incredible Atlantic Canadian professional named Carole-Anne Miller. Their team has a history of successful deal making in the finance sector, especially for high-risk companies, around the world.

Why the nerves? I like a challenge I’ve never professed to be a numbers gal: I’m admittedly nervous of the financial aspects – ask my accountant. I’ll take the risk on more billable hours to remove the risk I’m doing projections or estimates wrong and often I seek his counsel often when it comes to managing growth.

All of this has lead me to a place of caution and comfort, a danger zone for a start-up, when it comes to thinking about those decimal points.

As a push towards personal growth, I stepped away from applying to all the names and industries I know so well to apply on the one area I don’t know that well, but absolutely should: I sought a mentor, proven in finance, doing business around the globe.

And, as a young woman, I also chose a woman. This was part, but not all, of my decision. I’m fortunate to be paired with a woman who is passionate about mentoring other young women. (Thank you, Carole-Ann.)

Global Reach: The global reach of Maple Trade Finance and their team was also part of finding a mentor – 50% and growing of my client base is located outside of Atlantic Canada. Finding a mentor with expertise in other markets, particularly in the United States, was also a consideration. (Ontario, particularly the GTA, is a major market for my firm.)

Although we’re just beginning, during our intro call, Carole-Ann asked me the question, “What do you hope to get from this experience?” and my end answer was really: confidence in finance to take the risks needed to grow my business to a brand.

Stay tuned – this month I visit Carole-Ann and team in Halifax to learn from their team at Maple Trade Finance.

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