Unlocking Success: Why mentorship is crucial for thriving in tech and finance

Virginia Backaitis
4 min readMar 21, 2023

Guest post by Kathy Park

Mentorship is incredibly important — not just for women and people of color. But when you are in the minority, having someone who wants to help you succeed is incredibly powerful and helpful. And I’ve been fortunate to have that all the way through my career, which started at Goldman Sachs in the late 1990s.

Mentors can guide you in your career because you don’t know what you don’t know. So it’s good just to have other people who are aware of the context, the environment, and have more experience navigating those, so they can make your path easier.

Finding a mentor

Sometimes, finding a mentor happens organically. Some firms will actually assign mentors and sponsors. Other times, it’s who you naturally gravitate towards. In my case, there were always people that I just admired. I’d be in a meeting with them and just think, “Wow, that person is so impressive or interesting or funny.”

Finding a mentor can also be as simple as finding someone who looks like you because, chances are, they can relate to your experience better. Also, don’t be afraid to just ask for a mentor, especially if you’re at a larger firm. If you want a mentor on a formal basis, talk to your manager or someone in HR, and ask them for a mentor.

Once you find a mentor, you have to maintain that relationship. It’s not the mentor’s responsibility to seek you out and give you guidance. The best ones will do that, but they’re often very busy. As a mentee, it’s up to you as well to stay in touch with your mentor and be proactive in managing that relationship.

Diversity

Historically, it’s often been people of similar backgrounds who have mentored each other, whether that’s women helping other women or minorities helping other minorities. But increasingly, you’re starting to see professionals focus on diversity and bringing it to their companies.

You’re starting to see professionals in the majority — whether that’s color, gender, or even sexual orientation — who feel that diversity is important. So it’s no longer a function of minorities helping other minorities. Now, it’s people in the…

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