Mentors give you career advice and sponsors actively help you get to the next level. This distinctive difference and how to obtain mentors and sponsors was the topic at Women Get On Board’s April 8th roundtable event.

The event was moderated by Gigi Dawe, the Principal of Corporate Oversight and Governance at CPA Canada, and powerful insights were offered by panellists Fariba Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at AcuteNet, and Laurel Murray, a member of the Board of Directors of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The consensus from these women after their years of experience on public and private boards in the consumer goods, health, education sectors is that every board wants confident, competent, critical thinkers.

Tips On Getting Sponsors And Mentors

There are formal mentoring and sponsorship programs out there to help advance you onto corporate boards, but they are selective based on the right qualifications. So how do you find yourself mentors and/or sponsors? You find them through your network.

Informal mentorships are a great way to help advance yourself to corporate boards. To find a mentor, start with a list of 10 people in your network who have the skills and expertise that you aspire to. Contact each person and offer to take them out for coffee or a casual lunch.  Talk to them about how they advanced their career to corporate boards.  Make sure to follow through and follow up with your mentor’s advice and always show a willingness to give back to others as a mentor. Remember to be open and transparent that you are looking for a Corporate Board opportunity – it’s the same as asking for a job!

Sponsors actively help you get a seat on a Corporate Board. Today, finding a sponsor is all about who you know. Seek a sponsor who is prepared to invest in you as a protégée and make introductions to board opportunities because they know your capabilities. Start by looking at who you have worked with and who might be influential in helping you with introductions. When you find a sponsor, always follow through and work hard to keep your sponsor’s good reputation intact.

Our next event is on June 10th, Network, Network, Network.

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