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Student mentorship

Bridging the Gap between Campus and Corporate

The Haskayne Mentorship Program creates learning moments for both mentees and mentors

Peter Waugh, MBA’12, has been lucky with mentorship, benefitting from both sides of the desk.

Both Waugh’s parents were entrepreneurs. He vividly recalls the many hours spent as a teen, driving back and forth from construction jobs with his dad, talking through the managerial aspects of the company.

After six years in landscape architecture working on renewable energy projects, Waugh cut a path back to business through Haskayne’s MBA program. During his studies, he benefitted from great mentorship experiences. Formally, through the Haskayne Mentorship Program and the E3 Development Program, as well as informally through his business network. “I’ve always benefited from being a mentee, so now that I have a few more grey hairs, I wanted to pay it forward to the next generation.”

Kristie Tran, BComm’16, who was mentored by Waugh through the Haskayne Mentorship Program, impressed him with her professionalism. After an icebreaker lunch, they set a monthly meeting schedule as suggested through the program. Tran, who focused her studies on strategy and human resources as a student at Haskayne, always had questions ready, and a general idea of what she wanted to achieve with each coffee meeting. Since time was limited, Tran took any mentor-assigned homework very seriously, and was always prepared for the next meeting.

On the soft-skills side of the mentor-mentee relationship, Tran’s emotional intelligence shines through. “Sometimes the match can be completely different (from what you anticipated). Keep an open mind, because you could learn something you never expected to. Be a good listener,” Tran advises.

Fostering this type of self-awareness is a foundation of the Haskayne Mentorship Program, as both mentors and mentees complete self-assessments as part of the matching process. This approach provides a unique and valuable opportunity for Haskayne undergraduate and MBA students to be effectively paired with established business professionals throughout the Calgary community.

Tran and Waugh both benefitted from their strong mentor-mentee match. Waugh mentions a few of the benefits he’s received as a mentor. “First, it reminds me of where I came from. In your career, you get used to your capabilities and the level you are at. Working with students is a nice reminder that you have come a long way.

“Second, it is a great way to get new ideas and challenge existing assumptions. I don’t have a lot of time, so I love it when students bring me topics that are interesting to them that I would not otherwise have learned about.

“Third, it is a great way to meet the next generation of talent. I’m not always hiring, but maybe three years from now I have an opportunity, or someone else does. I get asked all the time about who I know that’s good at X or Y. You need a big talent pool.”

Tran concurs, “Having an open and honest talk about what each person expects from the relationship helps set a strong foundation and gives purpose to the mentorship. A mentor should also be adaptable in understanding that not everyone responds to situations the same way.”

Asked about why he supports the mentorship program, Waugh identifies an unfortunate aspect of modern life. “I’m pro mentorship because when we have questions, we go to books, peers, and the Internet. Traditionally, we would have gone to the next generation up. We’ve started to think that because we can look it up, because we can read about it, we don’t need the experience or people who have had the experience. We are losing that passing on of tacit knowledge.

“On one hand, it’s great to have all these resources; on the other hand, I think we’re losing the respect and understanding that experiential knowledge has value.” It’s quite clear from speaking to Tran and Waugh that they respect the process and each other.