Mentoring may be in danger of being an overused word today as it finds its way into business, education, community and family relationships. However, the concept is not out of date, and in fact is needed more now than ever.
Leaders in organizations from across the spectrum, from larger corporations to startups to nonprofits, are finding the need for establishing two-way relationships between those “who have gone before” and those “who will lead in the future.” For years, established corporate giants have had executive development programs, complete with replacement tables and established mentoring relationships between executives and up-and-coming talent.
Now smaller companies, often those growing the fastest, see the need for identifying and developing future talent quickly, given the fast-paced change of their business. Charitable organizations serving the community acknowledge that they too are not in a static environment and that the future effectiveness of their services depends not only on their volunteers, but also on those who will be leading.
Here at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, mentoring has been ongoing and in fact embedded in our mission and one of the hallmarks of this university. One example is at the Cameron School of Business (CSB) and the Cameron Executive Network (CEN). In existence for 14 years, the CEN is a body of mentors matched with undergraduate business students at the CSB. Currently, there are more than 200 mentors helping more than 400 students to understand “the ropes” of the business world. Often, this can mean the informal rules of a corporate organization, business protocol and etiquette, as well as expectations of the job. Such insight and knowledge can help a student during those first critical months of that internship or first full-time position to make a great first impression and get off to a great start.
Also, mentors benefit from the “reverse mentoring” a student can offer by helping a mature executive or retired business leader better understand the generation that is coming on board, as well as with technology and social trends. It is indeed a two-way street.
Many CEN mentees, looking back upon their experience and the knowledge and skills gained with the help of their mentors, say that this experience is one of the highlights of their academic career here at UNCW.
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
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