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Mentoring Connection - Theme: Power of Mentoring

Guest Author

On November 16th,  PMIT’s Edward Johnson led an open session called “Mentoring Connections”.

The first of its kind, the session provided an in-depth look at PMI Toronto’s two mentorship opportunities - the Career Accelerator Program (CAP) and the Professional Mentoring Program1. Insights on the professional value-add of mentorship, and the attributes of successful mentor-mentee relationships came via five brilliant mentors and event speakers: Vera Cvetkovic, Lorenzo Gutierrez, Karthik V. Srinivasan, Siddharth Sathe, and current PMIT president Jeffrey Thompson.   




Who Should Participate

in Mentorship?


Research tells us that people with mentors perform better, advance in their careers faster, and experience more work-life satisfactionMentors benefit too, by advancing their knowledge, sharing their experiences and giving back to the profession through volunteering. At PMIT we break prospective mentees into four groups. Anyone seeking professional development can find themselves in one of these categories:

  1. Newcomers - those who are new to the profession
  2. Career Changers - those who are trying to change careers 
  3. Ladder-er - those aspiring to upward mobility at their current company 
  4. Lateral-er - those aspiring to a different, but lateral career move


OK, So Mentoring is the

Same as Coaching, Right?

Not quite! While coaching is a direct exercise to mould an individual in a particular way, mentoring is facilitated guidance. 

As Karthik addressed in the session, a mentor is like a mirror that shows you your potential and your capabilities. However a mentor will not directly tell you what you should do in the same way that a coach, who has a stake in you, might do. 

In order for mentorship to be successful, the mentee must have a few clearly defined goals of what they would like to achieve going into the mentorship relationship. Siddharth also explained that part of mentorship is managing expectations. Sometimes mentees want quick answers or actions, but success is not achieved overnight, and sometimes you have to change your strategy multiple times before you achieve your goals. A mentor will help guide you along your chosen path.

Mentoring is guided, which means the mentee drives the agenda.

Vera & Karthik, two of the guest mentors, shared their understanding on the differences of coaching vs mentoring, as:

“Coaching is when someone has a stake in you e.g. “I'm your boss and I need results out of you”, whereas Mentoring is holding up a mirror to show you the potential you are made of, shows you who are; like a catalyst – starts the chemical reaction, but then doesn’t get involved”.

- Coaching is direct, and can have formulas or plays e.g. imagine a basketball coach drawing up plays for the team. Mentoring is indirect – it is about guiding, but the motivation comes from the mentee not the mentor.

- Coaching is sometimes win-win, your coach guides and moulds you in their shape and the way they desire.

Additional information about the difference between Coaching and Mentorship can be found here.


Characteristics of a Successful

Mentorship Relationship


Throughout the evening, the mentor panel discussed what characterized great mentorship. Vera highlighted the value of great listening skills and building a relationship based on two-way communication. Secondly, she talked about the need to build a strong foundation for the mentorship relationship, being open-minded and removing any barriers to openness and trust. “Starting good doesn’t mean that you will finish good, but it will help you to navigate any challenges and obstacles that may occur. It will also help you to do your best to finish the relationship successfully.” Karthik echoed Vera’s sentiments: “I approach mentorship like a child. I want to know more and understand deeper. I listen to my mentee deeply with intent: first to learn about them and then to consider how I can add value to them.”

With over 10 years of mentoring experience, Vera spoke about mentees that she has remained in contact with throughout the years and how mentoring builds a community of learning, locally and even globally, where you can continue to share lessons learned and successes. 


Benefits as a Mentor

Throughout the evening, mentors highlighted how mentorship has enriched them personally. 

“Learning is a journey, not a destination,” said Karthik. “Mentoring allows you to teach others what you know, which reinforces your own knowledge. Knowledge is the one thing, where you do not lose anything, the more you give of it.” 

For Lorenzo, seeing the success of his mentees and giving back to the community, has given his life meaning and purpose. Lastly, Jeffrey shared how mentoring has taught him patience and expanded his worldview, allowing him to acknowledge and address different learning styles, cultures, and values, while learning about various industries and companies.

  1. Thinking about mentoring, but worried you don’t have enough knowledge or experience? Just do it! There’s no guidebook for mentoring; it’s basically sink or swim!! Just start swimming...and keep swimming!, says Siddharth. 

    We all have experiences that have shaped us and that we can draw from to guide others. Additionally, mentors are not perfect and they do not have to have all the answers. Even as a mentor, you can have your own mentors that you turn to for direction.

  2. A successful mentor can be thought of as  a mirror - a reflection of you. Mentors won’t tell you what to do or get you a job, but they will show you the way based on your goals and capabilities. Mentees have to have clear goals or the relationship won’t go anywhere.

  3. Don’t be afraid to go digital! Virtual connection has reshaped and even enhanced mentorship opportunities. Mentors and mentees may have lost the ability to connect in-person, but they are embracing the flexibility and convenience of connecting anytime and with greater frequency thanks to virtual technologies. 

    With commuting out of the way, mentors are finding it easier to coordinate impromptu mentorship calls or virtual meetings using various channels (Webex, Zoom, Whatsapp, email, the phone etc.). Plus, proximity is no longer an issue. Mentors and mentees can connect from across the city, province, country or even the world!


Start Your Mentorship

Journey with PMI Toronto 

Registration for PMIT’s two mentorship programs will open in December 2020 and a new cohort of mentors and mentees will start the programs in January. 

  • The Career Accelerator Program is a short-term, outcomes-focused program that runs for 3 months and helps mentees to achieve their specific, targeted career goals.

    Are you seeking a promotion, searching for the next step in your career, or maybe pivoting to an entirely new industry and looking for help in your transition? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the Career Accelerator Program might be for you.

  • The Professional Mentorship Program is a 12-month program allowing for longer-term relationship-building and support focused on developing the mentee’s project management competencies.

    Are you newer to project management and looking for guidance to develop your project management toolkit? Do you have some or limited experience managing projects and would benefit from the experience of a seasoned PM? The Professional Mentorship Program might be what you need to grow your skills and learn more about project management. 

If these programs sound like a good fit for you, sign up now! Members of the Toronto Chapter can register for their chosen program. Not a member of the chapter? Join today!

Should you like to explore more about our mentors’ experiences or have burning questions, contact Edward (LinkedIn), Vera (LinkedIn), Karthik (LinkedIn), Siddharth (LinkedIn), Lorenzo (LinkedIn) or Jeffrey (LinkedIn) to find out more about their experiences.


We previously shared highlights from the CAP mid-term meeting of the current cohort. See here for more details (CAP Midterm post by Garry)



1 Horoszowski, Mark. “How to Build a Great Relationship with a Mentor.” Harvard Business Review, 5 May 2020, hbr.org/2020/01/how-to-build-a-great-relationship-with-a-mentor.