Mentorship: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

A recent panel hosted by Eagle’s IMPACT Multicultural Resource Group showcases the value of mentorship to leverage the benefits of a diverse and talented workforce

Kevin Madeira, Head of Relationship Management – Americas

The greatest innovators are often quick to credit that progress doesn’t come without standing on the shoulders of giants. While this is typically an idea that is tossed around in technology or science circles, it can be just as true when considering the value of mentorship.

As part of a recent panel discussion hosted by Eagle’s IMPACT resource group, participants highlighted not only how they’ve been supported by role models throughout their careers, but also shared some of the most important lessons learned along the way. I moderated the discussion and was joined by Head of Sales Support Akhar Mathews, Head of Transformation Rajan Venkitachalam, and Senior Project Manager Milva Santarelli.

The conversation touched upon several great topics. What quickly became a recurring theme, however, is that mentorship often extends beyond merely offering support and guidance. The best mentors—and the most inspiring—will embolden colleagues to challenge themselves in new ways. This approach allows individuals to build out their skillsets, but more importantly, instills the kind of confidence that empowers people to become leaders through recognizing and honing their unique value to the organization.

Akhar Mathews, for instance, credited her mentor for pushing her to apply for a Sales Engineering role. She noted too, that while she sometimes struggled to keep up with the more gregarious team members during meetings earlier in her career, her mentor helped her identify that she could add tremendous value by providing structure and helping corral the energy of the group toward specified goals.

Rajan Venkitachalam contributed that as a first-generation immigrant who arrived in the U.S. in his senior year of high school, his earliest mentors helped him realize that there is no easy path to success. But in confronting the challenges that may have seemed insurmountable, his mentor’s advice was that “tough situations never last, but the tough people—those who overcome—always do.” Rajan added that only when you’re on the other side of those challenges, can you gain perspective of what’s possible.

Milva Santarelli, meanwhile, described that she took a more circuitous path into financial technology, which began in Medical School in Venezuela and included work selling timeshares, telemarketing, and serving as an office manager. While her early career didn’t provide direct experience in finance, she noted that it was invaluable in teaching her how to adapt to change. She also credits her mentors for helping her to realize her potential along the way. “Moving into a new field is always scary… You can be anxious or nervous because you won’t have all the answers,” she described. But with growing confidence, she added, “You can express that you don’t know something and, by doing so, you’re embracing your essential self.”

One of the other themes that also emerged was how the respective backgrounds of each of the panelists influenced their approach to their careers. Rajan, for instance, noted that since he started his own business out of college, every subsequent stop of his career could be considered a “transformation” role. This speaks to how an appreciation for diversity has served Eagle’s organization over time.

In my own role, helping to manage and oversee Eagle’s extensive client relationships, I see firsthand that the appreciation for diversity extends far beyond Eagle’s offices. In fact, in speaking with a prospective client at a recent event, they cited that our diversity–across functions and within management roles–represented a material differentiator for Eagle. Moreover, our existing clients, particularly those who work alongside us to co-create new technologies and solutions, can recognize how our culture inspires creativity and creates a dynamic environment that supports forward-thinking innovation.

Diversity, however, rarely occurs in a vacuum. While organizations can take steps to recruit people from different backgrounds, mentors are invaluable to retain and nurture this talent. And these relationships can have an exponential impact as the mentees ascend in their careers and pay it forward to the next generation over time.

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