The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “Who do you go to when you need career advice?” is written by Carolyn Slaski, Americas vice chair of talent at EY.
I am a firm believer that no matter how many years you have been in the working world, you’re never too young or too old to have someone you can go to for input and advice. Good mentors are invaluable because, not only can they influence your decisions, but they can unlock your “superpowers”—the unique set of skills you bring to the table—and help you make a real impact at work and beyond.
I have a mentor I’ve looked to for advice and guidance from my first day at EY. I met John as an intern at EY, and I knew right away that he wasn’t “just a partner.” John was the managing partner of our EY New Jersey office, but he took a genuine interest in me and cared about my overall EY experience, not just the work I could accomplish for him.
As I grew my career at EY, John helped me make sure I was getting essential client experiences, from acting in junior roles on small, mid-market companies, to leading engagements for multi-billion-dollar international corporations. John was crucial to keeping me focused on the right priorities, reminding me to learn from my work experiences—not just achieve career targets. I was the first woman to become a partner in our EY New Jersey office in 1997, and 26 years after I first met John, I did my best to fill his shoes as managing partner of EY’s New Jersey office.
But John wasn’t just a supporter of my work life—he was a champion for me in my personal life, as well. When my husband and I decided to start a family, John supported my request for a flexible work arrangement, which was an outlandish request back in the early ’90s. He made it possible for me to be my best at work and outside of work, which, over time, has translated into my ability to manage my demanding schedule. This has become a source of enormous personal strength for me, and one I try my best to empower in others.
John is retired and in his 70s now, but he’s still someone I call when I need advice or want to celebrate success. As a mentor, John’s biggest contribution to my life was that he unlocked potential in me that I couldn’t see on my own. If there is one thing that I could do for the young men and women who look to me as a mentor or sponsor, it’s to offer the same gift to them.
John always reminded me, in his own way, that my greatest asset is me. I have unique skills and qualities that define me, and when I bring my whole self to the table, great things can happen. Having the right resume will only get you so far, but having confidence in yourself and your unique experiences is by far your most powerful advantage.