Two profile images merge at the centre. On the left is a blonde woman in a red blazer. On the right is a young man in a cream jumper.
Sharon Walsh and Padraig Mahony, Fidelity Investments. Image: Connor McKenna/SiliconRepublic.com

What you need to know about career mentoring

5 Apr 2022

Fidelity Investments’ Sharon Walsh and Padraig Mahony shared their experience as a mentor and mentee and offered some advice on getting the most out of it.

When we look for advice from leaders in the sci-tech community about how people can further their careers, one key tip that keeps cropping up is to find a mentor.

But if you’ve never been in a mentoring relationship before, it can be hard to know what to expect.

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That’s why SiliconRepublic.com spoke to Fidelity Investments’ Sharon Walsh and Padraig Mahony.

Walsh is vice-president of technology management at the company and also acts as mentor to Mahony, who is chapter leader of student debt, voice and stock plan services.

Their mentor-mentee relationship began about three years ago when Mahony interviewed for his current role.

He said the mentorship has helped him in a number of different ways. “I find that Sharon is very generous in sharing her experiences, both good and bad, at different junctures of her career,” he said.

“For myself, there are some growth areas that I feel I need and I tend to centre our conversations or one-to-one conversations around those. For example, Sharon is expert at navigating large and layered organisations and that’s something that I really benefit from.”

Mahony also said the fact that Walsh works in a completely different part of the organisation helps expose him to new networks that he didn’t have access to before.

While the relationship is designed to support the mentee in their career, Walsh said it has benefitted her own career too, through personal growth and building authentic relationships.

“Through the stories and sharing of experiences with myself and Padraig, we’ve really built that very strong relationship. So I think that’s an invaluable thing that you gain in one’s career by engaging in these processes,” she said.

“The second one is definitely new perspectives, just working through different scenarios and processes and asking the questions and listening. You definitely gain a much broader perspective, so it’s definitely a two-way learning opportunity.”

When it comes to offering advice for those considering becoming a mentor or an employee who wants to be mentored, both Walsh and Mahony said making the time is key.

“Padraig and I have had extremely positive success in our relationship because we’ve absolutely made the time and committed to the cadence,” said Walsh.

Mahony, who has had a number of mentors throughout his career, said the main trait they’ve had in common is that they wanted to be mentors. He was also willing to be mentored, so commitment is a key factor.

“Once you have a mentor in place, I think it’s really important to build a rapport with that person, really connect with them,” he said.

“Really importantly, I would say be open to feedback. Sometimes we might struggle a little bit with that if we hear feedback that we mightn’t necessarily agree with, but you really need to lean into it.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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