Workforce Planning
Why You Should Become a Mentor

BY LAURA FYFE

Do a quick internet search for “the top five qualities of a CEO” and you will undoubtedly see “leadership” appear on almost every list from Forbes to the Harvard Business Review. On closer inspection, it is immediately clear that leadership is not simply the ability to control a room, make big decisions, and manage a staff. Indeed, a strong leader is a good strategist, but they are also someone who has a positive impact on work culture and sees and grows potential both inside and outside of their workforce. Most successful CEOs and business leaders would tell you that these career-forming abilities were cultivated and nurtured by one or more individuals―or mentors―who made an impact on their career. As Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, wrote of his mentor: “If you ask any successful business person, they will always [say they] have had a great mentor at some point along the road.”
The Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB), in partnership with the local Employment Ontario network, facilitates a newcomer mentorship program (the Niagara Immigrant Connections Initiative) that pairs internationally trained professionals (ITPs) with established local professionals in their field. The result is an eight week mentoring relationship designed to introduce ITPs to Canadian workplace culture and to help build their social and professional network. Mentorship is a critical step in the course of a newcomer’s career that benefits not only Niagara’s vibrant internationally trained professional community, but significantly enriches local businesses, industries, and emerging leaders.
Additional benefits of mentorship to Niagara’s internationally trained professionals are clear: being coached by a local professional helps skilled immigrants build a professional network, increases their knowledge of sector-specific workplace opportunities and qualifications, develops crucial soft skills, and builds familiarity with Canadian workplace environment.
The benefits of being a mentor can be equally fulfilling. Mentorship can teach emerging professionals about their own leadership style and increase workplace confidence, industry knowledge, and intercultural awareness. Becoming a mentor and actively developing these skills while giving back to the community can help emerging professionals across all sectors take the next step in their career. “A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else,” says Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook on his mentor, Steve Jobs.
NWPB is currently searching for established professionals who are eager and willing to dedicate their time to developing a supportive professional relationship with one of Niagara’s highly skilled immigrants. The commitment for this program is 12 hours of face-to-face interaction over eight weeks; however, many mentorships result in long-lasting and mutually supportive relationships that span entire careers.
NWPB welcomes mentors from all industries and professions. We are currently in need of individuals in the medical, finance, engineering, environmental, and education sectors. Being a mentor with the Niagara Workforce Planning Board is a strictly voluntary position and mentors are not expected to employ their mentees or to find them jobs. BL

Laura Fyfe is the project coordinator for the Niagara Workforce Planning Board. For more information about becoming a mentor, please contact Laura at 905.641.0801 ext. 130 or email lfyfe@niagaraworkforceboard.ca.