Mentoring takes time but it is rewarding! Find mentors who believe in you, and believe in the people you are mentoring!

Dear WE readers,

Whenever I discuss the topic of gender in my classes I am confronted by a number of people who believe that issues of gender-based access and opportunity are subjects of the past. While the assumption may seem a reasonable one at first glance, the sad reality is that gender discrimination in the workplace remains a relevant and pressing issue.  This becomes apparent to executives and students as soon as I start probing with questions like: How many women managers or executives have you reported to? How often have you had classes or attended workshops where the keynote speakers were women? How many women faculty have taught you?  How many business cases have you analysed that had women as principle protagonists? Questions such as these invariably change the dialogue from a discussion of the validity of the debate to a discussion around the challenges and the need to redress the inequality as a matter of some urgency.

When first asked to write a blog or brief statement for the WE newsletter, I decided to reflect upon a key external stimulus that influenced my life and career development.  I hope you find these reflections interesting and a valuable context setting for subsequent reflections that I will be making in the weeks and months ahead!

I read for my PhD very late in life and have to admit that almost until the very end of the process pursuing a doctorate continued to be a rather surreal dream. Why? I grew up in a family and society that believed women should be wives and mothers first and foremost. Women who strived for something outside the home usually looked to teaching or nursing as the high education attainments and the limits to a professional career. Let me be absolutely clear, my parents were super people but they were either not aware of broader opportunities or not very ambitious for their two daughters.

Fortunately for me, in addition to being rewarded with two wonderful children – a daughter who is currently reading for her PhD and a son who is completing his Masters degree – I have had great bosses and colleagues throughout my professional career. In particular, I am grateful to the few who saw more potential in me that than I saw in myself, and who then challenged and inspired me to realise this potential. Actually, my path to my PhD began when one of my most influential bosses prevailed upon me to do an MBA around a decade ago. When he first suggested the idea I remember thinking “that’s crazy, I am not the sort of person to pursue such a degree. Can I even get accepted and then succeed at a top internationally oriented business school?”

Even armed with my MBA, I am sure I would not have had my doctorate or be doing the work I currently am – including writing this blog – if it were not for the above mentor and another who believed in me. These men, and other female and male colleagues and friends continually edged me on, especially when times were tough and the conflicting claims on my energies were many!

So, what is the core message of this first blog? To all my readers, and particularly to my female readers, I want to encourage you to seek mentors throughout your careers and to take the time to mentor others whenever you can. The rewards from being well mentored are much more than the narrow career progression and salary increments that may result – they can be life transforming! The rewards from mentoring are equally fulfilling as you see others flourish with your support and encouragement.

From academic study and with the benefit of my own experiences, I am convinced that most of us are born with more potential, creativity, intelligence, and other abilities than we initially appreciate. Without mentors, sponsors, and peers who challenge us because of their desire to see us realise our full potential, many of us will continue to contribute far less than we otherwise might. Mentors who awaken this potential and then support us realise it may be rare and hard to find but they do exist if you open yourself up to the opportunity.

A lot has been written about mentorship and sponsorship. I appeal to each of you to try and find mentors within and from outside your organisations – individuals who you can talk to, discuss every day matters with, and who can support you create your future.  Don’t stop here! Mentor and sponsor other people – help them find jobs, help them with promotions, send their curriculum vitaes on to your network. Mentoring takes time but it is rewarding!   Find mentors who believe in you, and believe in the people you are mentoring!

There are so many RSM women alumni, current students, staff and faculty who are phenomenal. I would like all the women of RSM to shine and would love to hear and spread your success stories.  To this end, from the next issue onwards we will be featuring RSM’s wonderful women.

Dianne Bevelander, MBA, PhD
Associate Dean MBA Programmes, RSM


Mentoring takes time but it is rewarding! Find mentors who believe in you, and believe in the people you are mentoring!

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10 thoughts on “Mentoring takes time but it is rewarding! Find mentors who believe in you, and believe in the people you are mentoring!

  1. Lovely Di,having known you at school I see such wisdom and growth of which I enjoy and have shared too over the years with friends or aquaintances. Not having your credentials though has made it a challenge for me, as little did I realize until of late that I have been mentoring for years. Without strength,often been hurt as I have allowed myself to become emotionally attached or involved. I now am in a different position, call it growth, grace or my gender but I continue forward
    with much more direction than I had before. Well done my beautiful friend I claim you as my mentor since in the short while we have found one another again you have been an inspiration to me in many ways, without you even knowing it xx

  2. Excellent Di. I’m looking forward to reading more as you share your experiences, anecdotes and revelations from your travels and teaching. You go Girl, you rock! Thanks for being such a motivational inspiration to WOMEN.Three cheers for your determination and tenacity. In anticipation …

  3. Great post. Mentors are people around us, one just needs to open up to the oppurtunity, and explore life with all their senses. Thank you for being such an inspiration Dianne, looking forward to reading you again.

  4. Dianne,this was a truly inspiring post and very much spot on! Mentors come under different shapes and forms but having someone to not only push you but to speak to your potential and believe in you is priceless.

  5. Dear Professor Bevelander,
    Thanks for your great professionalism!
    I joined your classes at a Program Management Seminar and started to apply the new knowledge received from you at my office. Right in first three days I noticed a lot of positive and significant changes: communications with colleagues, participants and professors became much better. Also my attitude to a routine work became more positive.
    And the cases/games we have had a t the Seminar gave me a great opportunity to perceive my own errors and to work on them.
    You are a very talanted and creative person who gives a lot of inspiration to your audience.

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