There are certain bits of wisdom that can only be shared through one-on-one interaction. Sure, it’s great to take some online courses and learn a new skill, but to truly improve and succeed in your professional and personal life, mentorship matters.
At its core, mentoring is about encouraging another person to grow and reach his or her full potential. It’s about creating that “Mr. Miyagi—Karate Kid” relationship, and that involves a desire to succeed from both the mentor and mentee.
While she may not hold a black belt in martial arts, Ada Adeleke-Kelani CA is no stranger when it comes to helping others be their best.
The Capital and Assets Accounting Manager of Upstream Americas Regional at Shell Canada makes it her mission to ensure that high quality talent coming into Canada has the opportunity to contribute and be fulfilled by working in their chosen professions.
“Mentoring within the immigrant community allows me to do my part and ensure the ‘cream of the crop’ talent that comes into our country has the chance to contribute meaningfully to their new home,” says Ada.
In pursuing her passion, Ada sits on the board of two not-for-profit organizations that focus on immigrants and women: the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC), which builds pathways such as mentoring programs between Calgary employers and Internationally Trained Professionals (ITP); and the Making Changes Association (MCA), which empowers women to make meaningful contributions to the community.
“If all you learn stops with you, it’s been a waste. Knowledge and experience should be shared,” says Ada. “Mentoring gives me the opportunity to share my experiences and learn about current professional, and sometimes personal, challenges. Although times have changed, I’ve found that there are some timeless principles in personal and professional development that are transferrable and will produce favorable results when adopted.”
Ability and attitude can take you places you never imagined. “Work hard and have a good attitude.” It’s advice Ada received from her late parents, and it’s what she now shares with her mentee, Deborah Apesin-ola.
As a new immigrant, Deborah was in need of information about accounting in Canada, the business culture and the work environment. Through the CA School of Business (CASB) and the ICAA Mentorship Program, she was able to connect and build a nurturing relationship with Ada.
“I received an invitation to the ICAA’s inaugural offering of the Foreign Trained Professional Mentorship Program. The invite came at a time when I was in need of information about the world of accounting in Canada,” says Deborah.
“I didn’t know many people. I was looking for networking opportunities and needed insight into acceptable behaviour and professional standards in my new environment.”
The pair first connected on a LinkedIn group in 2012 when Deborah, a new CASB student at the time, posted a need for employment at a CA Training Office (CATO) and Ada responded by providing some ideas.
“I want to say that my relationship with Ada was meant to be. In 2012 Ada responded to me on a LinkedIn group and provided me with some great ideas,” says Deborah. “Then in 2013, I received my mentor’s package and saw it was Ada! It was exciting for me to meet her at the mentorship workshop for the first time. Ada’s insights into job search strategies gave me confidence when it seemed like there was little hope in finding work. She taught me to accept my failures and motivated me to succeed.”
“In some cases, mentees have received poor advice that has taken them down the wrong path,” says Ada. “Patience and compassion are both required as you mentor them back on track. As a mentor, you just need to be careful not to switch from mentoring to mothering. Be a good guide and help them own their personal and professional development.”
While mentorship programs in the Alberta accounting profession are created to support future designated accountants as they acquire competencies, mentors equally have a lot to gain from the programs. “Mentoring isn’t just about giving back. It’s about developing and deepening your own cultural intelligence,” says Ada.
Reflecting on the impact that her own mentors have had on her, Ada says that she’s had different mentors for different purposes, and they’ve all contributed to her career success, “One of my mentors when I was in public practice reinforced putting my family first. In my current organization, one of my mentors taught me the importance of relationship building and networking in the office. These are things I pass on to my protégées now.”
This article originally appeared in Capitalize Magazine. A publication for post-secondary students in Alberta.