Pay It Forward: The Business of Mentorship

Five years ago, Nilufer Erdebil, an electrical and software engineer, took the leap and started her own consulting business. She credits the support of mentors for helping her to get her company, Spring2 Innovation, off to a running start.

“There are a lot of unknowns when building a business,” says Erdebil. I received coaching on everything from contracts to billing to approaching clients. It was training I might not have been able to afford otherwise. I am forever grateful – – it helped me move the business forward more rapidly.”

Erdebil is her own best example of how mentorship can help people achieve their goals.

Mentorship Programs

Erdebil found her mentors by participating in programs offered by the Canadian Women in Communications and Technology (WCT), a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the digital economy. Now, she is paying it forward as a national board member of the organization, and chair of its chapter in the National Capital Region. Earlier this year, she was honoured with the WCT’s 2016 Leadership Award.

The objective of WCT’s programs is for the mentors to help develop the mentees’ leadership skills and to work with them to define goals and develop strategies for reaching them. When she was a mentee, Erdebil was matched with a senior member in the industry. “At the time, I was the only one with a technical background. It helped to have someone with management experience to give a different perspective. The more perspectives you have, the better decisions you can make.”

Erdebil says the intangible results are just as important. “A lot of potential in women is untapped, and they just need the encouragement. It helps to have someone say yes you can. It’s a very supportive environment.”

The benefits of being a mentor

As a mentor, Erdebil has been actively providing coaching for members on both a formal and informal basis. She promotes the idea through speaking engagements at events for women in business and technology.

Erdebil says that being a mentor is also a learning experience. “I get energy from seeing people have that ‘aha’ moment. When they see it from a different perspective and find their own solution, it’s very gratifying and energizing for me. And they end up being friends for life.”

This is one in a series of stories inspired by the Pay It Forward theme featured at the ITWC 2016 Women in the Channel luncheon.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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