April 28, 2023

Program shows power of mentorship for leadership development

BMO-supported program builds lifelong relationships and helps business students achieve their goals
Ryan Stevens, a fifth year finance student and mentee in the BMO Mentorship Program
Ryan Stevens, a fifth year finance student and mentee in the BMO Mentorship Program. Courtesy Ryan Stevens

Ryan Stevens says when he first heard about the BMO Mentorship Program, he didn’t really believe in it, but with him hoping to get a co-op position and many of his friends landing jobs using the skills they acquired from their mentors, Stevens decided it was time to join.

Stevens, a fifth-year finance major at the Haskayne School of Business, has since had multiple mentors through the program and now sees great value in it. 

“The biggest thing that I see improvement in is time management,” he says. “I had a mentor who really helped me with time-blocking and prioritizing tasks. I was so bad at that my first couple years and I would fall behind immensely, but he gave me a couple of tools and shared his calendar with me and sort of described how he blocks everything out and that helped me a lot.”

The program, led by the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business and supported by BMO focuses on leadership development and is available to second-year (and up) Bachelor of Commerce, MBA and Master of Management students.

Max Chan has been a mentor with the mentorship program for almost 20 years

Max Chan has been a mentor with the mentorship program for almost 20 years.

Max Chan, BA’01, joined the program as a mentor in 2004, only a couple years after its launch in 2002. He has kept in contact with most of his mentees and has attended major life events like graduations and weddings. Chan says he never really had mentors during his education, and it was not until he joined the workforce — coincidentally at BMO — that he saw the true value in the mentee-mentor relationship. 

“I saw a posting up for a mentorship opportunity,” Chan says. “I didn’t really know what a mentor was; I knew I didn’t have one when I was an undergrad and I thought it could be an interesting way to give back, and so I signed up as a pretty young recent grad, not even knowing what I was getting into, and I haven’t looked back.”

Chan, who is now a University of Calgary senator and a senior vice-president at Enbridge Inc., says he considers the benefits of being a mentor extremely rewarding. 

Getting to see a student form their own career thoughts, and really just helping guide them through a very formative time through their life and career, it’s really exciting and it’s quite rewarding to see people come into their own, figure their path out.. 

Stevens will be soon crossing the stage and graduating with his BComm, and says one of his mentors, Robin Eng, BComm’91, who works in finance, has helped him focus in on where he’d like to take his career. 

“I genuinely think I want to do something more in the creative space, and getting that sort of support and advice from your mentor to take that risk while you’re young was super-helpful for me in deciding that,” says Stevens. “I’m applying for mostly marketing co-ordinator and communications roles because I think that’s what interests me the most and I really love being creative.” 

Stevens adds a future goal is also to stay involved with the BMO program — but this time as a mentor.

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