meet the mentors
29 Trailblazers who inspire, help and encourage others to excel
WHAT IS MENTORSHIP? Ask a group of women that question, and you'll probably get more answers than there are people in the room. That was our experience at the Vancouver Club in November, when for the third year we turned to a panel of experts to help us identify B.C.'S most influential women. The focus this time around: leaders who are outstanding mentors.
The panel offered plenty of suggestions, leaving us to narrow the field down to 29 women from business and other walks of life. Our list could have been much longer: those featured here represent excellence, but they have a host of equally deserving peers.
As we've learned, mentorship has many dimensions and shades of meaning. Is a mentor a sounding board? A role model? Should mentorship be formal or informal? Should it have a direct outcome? For panellist Nanon de Gaspé Beaubien-mattrick, the ultimate goal is sponsorship—championing someone for a position. “Because mentoring is quiet, it can be unseen, unheard, and I don't know if I'm having an impact,” she said. “If I'm a sponsor, I know I'm having an impact because either the person makes it to the C-suite or the board or they don't.”
The mentees we interviewed (see page 33) have found encouragement and support for their personal lives as valuable as help with that promotion. For mentors, the rewards can also be generous. “Mentorship is more listening and coaching,” said panellist Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union. “Through that listening, the mentor—at least in my case—learns as much as, if not more than, the mentee.”
Talking to mentors and mentees also showed us how many B.C. organizations make it their goal to help women succeed. With backing from our mentors, these groups and agencies seek to level the playing field in what is still a man's world.
Whatever mentorship means to you, we hope you find the women (and a few good men) recognized here as inspiring as we do.