Mentees & Mentors Moving Forward Together

Posted by Avanti Women Oct 24, 2017
Written by Trisha Richards

As an entrepreneur in the early stages of establishing her company, Annisha Stewart, medical esthetician and founder of Bliss Spa on the Go, was confident she had what it took to succeed in business, including a solid education, passion for her profession, and an unwavering desire to provide unparalleled service.

Still, she sensed that there was something subconsciously holding her back from reaching her full potential.

‰ÛÏI felt that I needed a mentor because this is my first business. I needed someone to keep me accountable and encourage me in case I stumbled a bit, which I did,‰Û she admitted, ‰ÛÏand my mentor was there reaching out to me with support.‰Û

Give and take    

Through Avanti Women‰Ûªs Mentor-Match program—which carefully gathers personal and professional data, based on interests, desired outcomes, and communication styles, from potential mentors and mentees to facilitate the ‰Û÷matchmaking‰Ûª process—Annisha and Dina Barazza were identified as an ideal connection.

In addition to being a mentor, Dina is the founder of Avanti Women and owner of The Talent Consortium, a human resources and training consulting company.

‰ÛÏDina is a no-BS type of person, and she is very honest with me,‰Û explained Annisha. ‰ÛÏThe knowledge she shares with me has helped me overcome career obstacles, and her guidance keeps me focused on reaching my goals.‰Û

And that is what mentorship is all about, according to Dina. ‰ÛÏBringing a hyper focus towards one‰Ûªs purpose is key in any deliverable,‰Û she said. ‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs what I can do to bring mindfulness in getting to the main goal, and that means filtering the clutter.‰Û 

Having been on the giving and receiving end of several mentorships, Dina has learned that the common thread in all successful mentorships is active listening and probing.  Unlike coaching, the goal of mentoring is to create a safe ground for building trust and asking the right questions for a mentee to discover, she clarified.

‰ÛÏAnnisha was on her way to discovering the next chapter in her life, and by actively listening and asking her hard questions, I sought to keep her focused on her goals and led to her own conclusions,‰Û Dina explained.  ‰ÛÏShe brought joy to my heart with her ability to move through her fears and ask lots of questions, while weighing the pros and cons of her decisions.‰Û

‰ÛÏMentoring Annisha also reminded me to keep things simple and focused for myself,‰Û Dina added.   

Diversification strengthens Avanti Women mentorship program  

Avanti Women recently onboarded a dedicated director of mentorship, Christine Lauzon, who is already enhancing the organization‰Ûªs mentorship program to better serve its diverse group of members.

‰ÛÏWhile typical mentorship programs focus on corporate management-level and above, we are currently adding to our pool of mentors to support our members in healthcare, education, and non-traditional female roles (i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics‰Ûª, aka ‰Û÷STEM‰Ûª),‰Û explained Christine.

‰ÛÏAvanti Women is for all women at all stages of their careers, so it‰Ûªs important to for us to align them with other women who have experienced their desired outcomes.‰Û

Another new addition to Avanti Women‰Ûªs mentorship program is providing ideal matches for transitionistas, women who are working towards transitioning from one industry to another, as well as women who actually are in transition.

 â€°Ã›ÃThere is nothing typical about transitionistas,‰Û said Christine. ‰ÛÏThat‰Ûªs why we are committed to pairing them with women who have also been there and can mentor them through the many considerations of working through this stage.‰Û

Determining the right time to engage or become a mentor

When considering Avanti Women‰Ûªs mentorship program, members are asked to complete two questionnaires. The first questionnaire is a Mentee Readiness assessment which will ask potential mentees to think about their reasons for contemplating working with a mentor.  After completion of the Readiness assessment, Christine and her team will reach out to discuss next steps.

 â€°Ã›ÃIf she is ready, based on the assessment, she will complete a more in depth assessment that requires her to consider every angle so that we may match her to the best mentor for her,‰Û explained Christine.   

To get the most out of a mentorship experience, mentees are asked to develop a wish list of outcomes with their mentors at the start of the program. 

‰ÛÏThe mentor‰Ûªs role is to keep discussions with her mentee on track and geared towards her mentee‰Ûªs list of favourable outcomes,‰Û said Christine. 

To help a potential mentor determine whether she is fully equipped to ‰ÛÏbe the driver of the bus,‰Û the organization practices careful methods for recruiting including mentor assessment surveys, explained Christine. The unique difference about Avanti Women is that it offers services for women who are at different stages in their lives—as such, age is not a determining factor in the suitability of a mentor.

‰ÛÏAvanti Women mentors are valued for their education, workplace accomplishments, community mindedness, maturity, and ability to integrate all of this in a mentor relationship.‰Û 

The volunteer advantage

Given that Avanti Women is a member-based organization run by volunteers, volunteers are matched with mentors at no charge. 

‰ÛÏThis is a testament to our dedication and mandate to empower all women,‰Û explained Dina. ‰ÛÏThis, in turn, also allows us to attract mentors who support women‰Ûªs development and have a desire to give back—or in our case give forward!‰Û

Annisha believes Avanti Women mentorships generate a cycle of ‰Û÷giving forward‰Ûª among women and said, ‰ÛÏI think when you are able to help others, it gives you personal satisfaction and also encourages others around you to do the same.‰Û

Learn more about the Avanti Women mentorship program and register for free to become a member.

*This article was contributed by Avanti Women volunteer Trisha Richards. Trisha Richards is a business communicator, writer, and marketer in Toronto. Connect with her through her website:

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