This past summer, I was a panelist at the Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility event sponsored by a university in New York City. The conference provided an overview of how entrepreneurs and business leaders are involved in developing and executing strategies around corporate social responsibility. Although many corporations include social responsibility as part of their strategy, solo entrepreneurs are not exempt from social corporate responsibility, the conference emphasized.
My panel was entitled Corporate Social Responsibility with the Global Community: Models for New Entrepreneurs. I was on a panel alongside professors and entrepreneurs who are well versed in the conference theme around mentorship and corporate social responsibility. In my discussion, I challenged the audience to actively provide mentorship to those starting out in the careers and stay connected through their corporate journey. In my opinion, entrepreneurs face real challenges from developing new products, maintaining cash flow, building a sales pipeline and obtaining new customers to keep their heads “above water”. However, in view of all this, mentorship is still important especially to help those who are entering the job market for the first time.
I reflected on the challenges I faced earlier in my career. For example, starting my first job in Wall Street, New York City, as an auditor for a large global bank was an overwhelming experience. I did not have a network of colleagues who could prepare me for the banking industry. I made mistakes due to lack of experience and changed jobs frequently, which I may have avoided if someone would have mentored me. However, early in my career I found a mentor who provided me both guidance and support.
In my several decades as a working professional, I’ve mentored scores of people from helping them navigate through corporate life, preparing for their next career change or how to manage the challenges within their current job. I am pleased in helping others learn from my mistakes, benefit from my mistakes and make a difference in their respective careers. Some of the people I have mentored have landed senior positions in banking and financial services and I am proud to have made a difference in their careers. When asked, what they can do for me in return, my response is to help someone else in your network.
When I started The Walker Group eight years ago, I continued to provide mentorship to others. In fact, in the last eight years I helped fifty three people land jobs, most at the senior executive level. In addition, to my role as a FinTech entrepreneur helping new entrepreneurs or colleagues develop is one of my company priorities. The benefit of mentorship remains to helping others to reach their goals and potential. Some who landed key roles have in turn identified opportunities for my company, but this has never been a requirement. The life of an entrepreneur is a busy, but I equate farming as an analogy. The farmer plants seeds and anticipates bountiful crop. At times growth can come from areas outside the boundaries, perhaps some seed has blown away.
As entrepreneurs we plant opportunities and at times there may be no immediate result, but opportunities come from various sources. Patience and persistence are necessary for growth and development.