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Michiel van Staden – Meet the Mentor

Michiel has 14 years in data analytics experience across fraud prevention, credit risk & operations to digital & marketing. As a mentor, he helps mentees unpack their vision and goals.
Mic Heyns

Data Analytics Leader of the Year 2020 | Speaker | Writer | Mentor | Coach, Absa

"There's so much to figure out, a mentor can help"

Why did you decide to become a mentor?
Through my own journey in data, I’ve realised how much there is to figure out, towards being successful in your career. There are so many great technical resources available out there today, for learning and refining a range of skills. In practice however, a career entails developing the capability to engage productively with others across a range of settings, whether it be interviews, listening, selling or collaborating.

Mentoring gives me the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned during my journey, whilst working one on one with a mentee also allows me to guide them in charting a course that fits them and their specific situation.

How did you get your career start?
My studies largely followed the train of what I seemed to be good at. Having an aptitude for working with numbers, guided me towards studying statistics, without much of an idea of how I’d be utilizing that in a career, although I did hear that job prospects in the field were good.

In my honors year I was approached to take up a position in a new customer value management team. I was given the option of picking between a management information and an analytics role. Through that opportunity, I found data.

It was however only when I started working with mentors and coaches, much later, that I managed to begin to take more control of my career.

Having access to a coach on an ongoing basis, allowed me to really unpack my beliefs, values and habits, towards aligning them with my working environment, and consciously planning out my goals with practical next steps.

I've also had the opportunity to work closely with a range of different leaders in my career, gaining much along the way in terms of guidance and support.  Having a more focused mentor, I do believe, could however have fast tracked my progress significantly, and that is what I hope to now offer others.

"As a mentor, I gain new insights too"

How do you usually set up mentorships?
Each mentorship engagement is different. I am also a career coach, and do thus look to start with some coaching sessions, where I give my new mentee the space to unpack their vision and goals for themselves. Within these sessions I’ll gladly offer guidance from my experience, but very much without pressure and judgement.

From there I’ll work closely with the mentee to set up monthly video calls around specific topics that they would like to explore together, be it vetting vacancies, preparing for an interview or discussing how to approach a work project. In between these sessions, I also look to respond within a couple of days to further chat comments and questions.

I do believe coaching and mentoring complement each other really nicely.  Coaching is all about a safe space to think, with relevant and customized questions, to challenge your thinking.  Mentoring adds to this support and sponsorship, with guidance as needed, where you do not have the experience or info.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?
The reality is that there are ongoing new developments in the world of data, and always new things for me to learn from my mentees. I find it fascinating to hear more about different applications in a variety of settings and industries.

By engaging in mentorship relationships, I also continue to gain new learnings and realisations into how we can best develop as human beings, collaborate with each other and share our thoughts.

Finally, I’ve found that there is only so much satisfaction to be gained from personal or even organisational achievements. Ultimately, I’m increasingly finding it much more fulfilling to guide and see others discover and progress on their own unique journeys of development.

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