Mentor: What is it and who needs it?

The concept of mentoring generates enthusiastic discussion in the business world. Successful people readily acknowledge the impact of both informal and formal mentors on their personal and professional lives. Yet it is often difficult to define exactly what a mentor is. One definition describes a mentor as "someone who is considered to be a trusted and knowledgeable counselor, someone with the experience to guide another individual's development."

This definition helps clarify what a mentor is, but other questions come to mind. What should I look for in a mentor? What should I expect from mentoring? How do I find a mentor?

To answer the first question you should look for someone whose judgment you trust, someone to brainstorm with, someone who has an objective perspective. A mentor also adds value by using his/her familiarity with a scenario similar to yours to provide insights that help you make thoughtful decisions. (This means that you may have more than one mentor as you seek guidance across different aspects of your life.)

To understand what to expect, you should not overlook your role in the mentoring. You have a significant influence on the relationship that will develop between you and your mentor – because it relies, in part, on your confidence regarding the mentor's interest in you and your goals, as well as your faith in their credentials, knowledge and experience.

Now to find a mentor! To assist with this, accounting firms frequently assign mentors. This ensures that you have the advantage of receiving ongoing advice from a seasoned CPA. Some firms encourage a combination of both assigned and informally chosen mentors to address the issues, challenges and opportunities facing you throughout the years. In addition to someone within your firm who has insights regarding its history and culture, you may also select a mentor outside your firm. This can be a college professor, a family friend, a college alumnus, or someone you meet through networking whose judgment you trust.

We all benefit from the insights of others. A mentor is important throughout our professional lives, serving as a resource and offer counsel as we strive toward our goals.

By Sally Glick, Chief Marketing Officer, Sobel & Co. LLC
Ms. Glick can be reached at Sobel & Co., LLC, 973-994-9494
or by e-mail at

You may like these other stories...

Read more by Rita Keller here.I recently read a tweet by my music-teacher son regarding his fifth-grade musicians: “My fifth-grade flutes and clarinets just exhaust me. They have so much energy and ask sooooo many...
By Richard D. Alaniz  On June 24, 2013, the US Supreme Court narrowed the definition of who qualifies as a "supervisor" for the purposes of harassment cases. This holding is a significant win for...
By Ken Berry The common perception is that most of the key provisions included in the massive 2010 health care legislation – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), frequently referred to as...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Apr 22
Is everyone at your organization meeting your client service expectations? Let client service expert, Kristen Rampe, CPA help you establish a reputation of top-tier service in every facet of your firm during this one hour webinar.
Apr 24
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA introduces you to a powerful but underutilized macro feature in Excel.
Apr 25
This material focuses on the principles of accounting for non-profit organizations' revenues. It will include discussions of revenue recognition for cash and non-cash contributions as well as other revenues commonly received by non-profit organizations.
Apr 30
During the second session of a four-part series on Individual Leadership, the focus will be on time management- a critical success factor for effective leadership. Each person has 24 hours of time to spend each day; the key is making wise investments and knowing what investments yield the greatest return.