|MENTORING SUCCESS STORIES|
Mentors can change careers and lives. As the School celebrates 20 years of its mentoring program, some of the mentors and protégées who have participated over the years shared their stories with us.
We invite you to share your own mentoring success stories with us, too. Mentors – what have you learned from your protégées? Protégées - how have your mentors changed your life? Email us your stories, and we’ll share them online in a future issue of BusinessMiami.
Easing the Transition Point
Helping students move from business school to the workforce by putting yourself in their shoes — and sharing a late night Starbucks meeting or two.
Formal and Informal Mentoring Meet
How a combination of a formal mentor and an informal one helped one women land a job at Goldman Sachs.
A Third Generation of Mentoring Impact
A protégée becomes a mentor, and helps a new protégée walk in his footsteps.
Being a mentor can be a long-term commitment, but the relationships are worthwhile.
The Rewards of Connecting
Mentors and protégées can form lifelong bonds. How one mentor keeps those connections going.
Stories by Diana Jordan
A key transition point in students’ lives — moving from business school into the workforce — has been the focus of much of mentor Sara Hecker’s (BBA ’03) work in the School of Business Administration Mentor Program.
Hecker, who had a mentor of her own while beginning her career, finds it’s valuable to put herself in students’ shoes to help them get the most out of the relationship. “Now that I am a mentor myself, I try to remember my time as the student and try to relieve my protégés of any stress they may be having about life after college,” says Hecker, a player development specialist in Royal Caribbean International’s casino operations division.
Hecker’s own mentor helped her obtain her first internship and steered her in the right direction as her career began. “My mentor was a great help when it came to thinking about the future after college, perfecting my résumé and helping with those nerve-wracking interviews,” she recalls.
Branden Schwartz (BBA ’11) says Hecker’s advice and the work she did with him were instrumental in helping him secure a job with Burger King Corp. Hecker, for her part, wasn’t afraid to dive in and really work with him. “She really went above and beyond to make herself available to me,” Schwartz says. “We even sat down at Starbucks one night to revamp my résumé, which landed me an interview and then a job with Burger King.”
Job-hunting mistakes and successes, hiring experiences and years of work in the corporate world all prepared Hecker to be an effective mentor. “I tried to give Branden as many pointers as I could along the way,” she says, “while sharing what I have learned personally and what I look for as a professional who reviews résumés and conducts interviews.”
School of Business senior Veronica Barroso interned for Goldman Sachs in Miami this summer — an opportunity she says would not have come her way without her participation in the School’s mentoring program.
“The program has taught me so much and put me in contact with businesspeople that are genuinely interested in helping me,” she says. Her own mentor, Carlos Segrera (BBA ’98), founder of accounting recruiting firm Segrera Associates, has not been the only one who has worked with her in the program. Barroso, a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, took advantage of the program’s mentoring roundtables to also meet others whom she could learn from. “Roundtables are the best way to connect with mentors because it’s like speed-networking,” she says.
Through the roundtables, Barroso picked up a more informal mentor: Stephen Schaefer (MBA ’86), a vice president for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Schaefer says he tries to make himself as accessible as possible to all the students in the program. While he takes them on company tours to show them what the work world is like, he also focuses on “softer” skills, such as how to interview, what to present on a resume and how to dress appropriately. “There’s a difference between learning in the classroom and learning from experience, which is why this is such a great program to help students learn about what employers are looking for,” he says.
You might say Charles Foschini (BBA ’87, MBA ’88, JD ’97) is in the middle of a three-generation mentoring success story. He credits the businessman who mentored him while he was a student at UM for influencing his career path. And for nearly a decade, Foschini, vice chairman of CB Richard Ellis Capital Markets, has been a mentor himself in the School of Business Administration Mentor Program.
Foschini couldn’t have foreseen just how much of an impact his mentoring work would have. “As a three-time alum, my involvement began as a way to stay engaged with graduating MBA students who may have been a candidate for our firm, and continue to give back to a school that has provided so much to me,” he says.
Foschini has had the opportunity both to engage with the best potential recruits for CB Richard Ellis and to give back to the School. But one protégée in particular really brought home for him the impact that mentors can have. Alexandra Plasencia (BBA ’07, MBA ’11, JD ’11) first approached Foschini as an undergraduate. “I typically mentor only MBA candidates, but Alex came to me with a deep interest in my profession, commercial real estate, that showed a maturity beyond her age and studies,” he says.
When he agreed to mentor her, she soaked up everything he had to say, even eagerly attending company meetings with him. Like Foschini, Plasencia went on to earn her BBA, MBA and JD from the University of Miami. This past summer, she secured a summer job as in-house counsel for health care corporation MCCI.
“To see the influence I had unknowingly on this young woman was profound,” Foschini says. “Alexandra represents the best UM has to offer, and to know as a mentor I will have had some small role influencing her success is at least as rewarding to me as it will hopefully be to her.”
Sitting down to Chinese food to review resumes after a 10-hour workday was all in a day’s work for mentor Gabrielle Rapke (AB ’06, BBA ’06). Late one night, she met her protégée, Deborah Moss (BBA ’11), to review an application of hers and help her perfect her resume. It wasn’t an unusual meeting for Rapke, who has tried to place the same emphasis on her role as a mentor for the School as she does on her career as Citi’s regional client sales manager in Latin America.
“Gabrielle is an incredibly busy person but she always makes time for me,” says Moss, who credits her mentor for helping her obtain an internship with Citi the summer of her junior year. This internship led to a job offer as a financial analyst with the company’s New York office before Moss had even begun her senior year.
While a student at UM, Moss met about once a month with her mentor, an opportunity she no longer has since moving to New York. But being miles apart has not prevented the relationship from continuing. Rapke continues to email Moss regularly. “I can still count on her to help me with the smallest details, such as how to approach my manager and the top 10 things to do during training,” says Moss, who believes Rapke’s mentoring has made her transition much easier. She says she will stay in touch with her mentor, whom she considers to be a personal friend, as she adjusts to life in New York and begins her career.
For Mentor Sherry Ulsh (MBA ’83), the most rewarding part about being a mentor at the School is the relationships she has formed with the students.
“I love the one-on-one aspect the mentoring program offers. I can really connect with those I am mentoring, and building these relationships has helped me stay in touch with students,” says Ulsh, who is director of global marketing finance and procurement at Burger King Corp.
Ulsh stays in touch with many of the students she has mentored, and social networking sites such as LinkedIn help maintain connections with mentees across the country. “These social networking tools help us stay in each other’s lives. I also think it’s helpful to know someone is just a call or email away,” she says.
Of course, there’s nothing like an in–person connection. That’s why, no mater how hectic her schedule, Ulsh says she always takes the opportunity, when she’s in New York, to have coffee with a past mentee who went on to pursue an MBA at Columbia University.
“I feel this program gives back to mentors just as much as it does to students. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone,” she says. “It is truly rewarding to be able to be part of their lives and to see them grow and prosper and know that in some small way, I helped them along their way.”
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