Written by Andrei Gavrila Oct. 17, 2022
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I had a great mentor early in my career. He was energizing, and our sessions gave me a lot of power to become the person I am today. He was someone I looked up to. And I was lucky he took the time to help me figure out what I want to do in my career. Fast forward 5-6 years in my career and my work colleagues started asking me questions, giving me the opportunity to mentor them. I decided I wanted to give them a great experience. Something close to what I got and tried as much as possible to understand how to do that. Now, after having mentored probably close to 100 people it still gives me great energy to make each mentoring experience out-of-the-ordinary.
How did you get your career start?
I made my first money washing dishes in a restaurant in the US. A work and travel summer job. I was a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in IT and as I had an opportunity to stay in the US, I asked myself what I really want to do. Live in the US and work in restaurants or IT? I enjoyed working in a restaurant, but in the end, I chose to return home, finished my university degree, and got hired by a large international company as a software developer. Coming from a hard, long-hours kitchen job to a desk job was an incredible experience. I promised myself to work all my life as hard as I did in that kitchen and never take anything for granted.
How do you usually set up mentorships?
For the first session, I focus on listening and clarifying intent. I want us to explore the reason behind mentoring, and what they feel the next step in their career should be. What do they want and more importantly why do they want that thing? Understanding the why is important, as there are many ways to get to a destination.
I am also interested to know their style of learning, what works best for them, and how they imagine getting the best out of our time together. Then we usually tackle an existing problem or opportunity. If possible, I suggest starting small, testing things out, running experiments, and learning fast from the feedback we get. I like to approach things with curiosity and co-create solutions with my mentee.
What’s been your favorite mentorship story so far?
Oh. It’s hard to pick one. Most mentoring journeys have something out of the ordinary and are worth celebrating. The one that comes to my mind now is one in which one Scrum Master was at a point in which she was considering quitting, changing roles, and doing something else. Due to a series of events, she lost confidence in her abilities, but at the same time, she was not ready to call it quits as she still enjoyed the role. She is now mentoring other Scrum Masters and helping them be really good at what they do. I am so happy she didn’t give up because she is great in this role.
What are you getting out of being a mentor?
The best thing about being a mentor is meeting new people and having the privilege to walk alongside them on their growth journey. I consider myself lucky to be able to do that. I am also deeply humbled by the feedback I get. There is something extraordinary when people say that because of our discussions they grew as never before or that they are more confident at what they do.
There is also an exercise that I love to do with my mentees at regular intervals (every 3-6 months). I call it the “new-more-less-not anymore” analysis. We list behaviors in these 4 categories compared to a previous point in time. For example, if because of our mentoring relationship you started assessing your skills every 2 weeks you would list that in the new column. Or if because of our talks you reduced the time spent in meetings you would list that in the less column. Doing this exercise is powerful and a great way to understand how mentoring impacts our day-to-day and celebrating results. Seeing results gives me a lot of great energy.
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