Articles & Publications

By Mercedes Cardona, OMH Communications |
Published: March 3, 2014

The following is an article excerpt from

Women MentorMentoring programs have gained traction at workplaces large and small, and with good reason: A good mentor can provide valuable advice, offer encouragement and celebrate your accomplishments as you progress along your career path. But what if you’re already halfway through your professional journey? You may already have a lot of advice to give—but chances are, you still have a lot to learn.

You’re never too old to be mentored, says Sally Haver, a career management consultant: “It’s always valuable to have an objective, knowledgeable set of eyes and ears on what you’re considering doing next.” Haver, who’s in her 70s, notes that she is using her former colleagues at The Ayers Group/Career Partners International as resources to develop her own consulting business.

Judith E. Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications and chairman of The Creating WE Institute, a leadership research organization, agrees that having an advocate helps women at all career stages,—whether you call it a mentor, a rabbi or a sponsor. “It gives you flashlights to shine to light the path ahead and it gives you opportunities,” says Glaser, who’s also the author of Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Excellent Results.

In the spirit of International Women’s DayExternal Site, when Citi will be hosting events around the world to celebrate generations of women powering progress, consider these factors when seeking out a potential mentor to help propel you to the next stage in your career, no matter where you are on your professional path:

Think about the counsel you need.
The peer-to-peer mentoring that some companies offer isn’t necessarily useful for mid-career women who want to go to the next level, observes Nancy Mellard, executive VP and general counsel for CBIZ employee services division, and national leader of their professional development program, Women’s Advantage: “If you’re a woman in your 40s and 50s you really need a sponsor, not a mentor—a person who’ll advocate on your behalf. But their advocacy has to be effective. They have to be able to expand your perception of what you can do. They need to have the experience to challenge you to take smart risks.”

Establishing a mentoring relationship can also be more difficult for a woman in middle age than for an entry-level professional. “You have to be assertive and aggressive,” says Mellard. “You have to be the one who owns it.” But age can be a plus, too, Mellard adds. “I see that level of maturity as an advantage in being more able to ask things of people than you would have been in your 20s.”

Before you start looking for a mentor, take stock. Establish your career goals and challenges, and list your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the areas with which you need help, advises career consultant Dana Manciagli.

Consider someone younger.
“It doesn’t have to be the top person or someone with a big title,” insists Glaser. Consider rising stars in other divisions of your company, or younger well-connected professionals who have a better grasp of some of the newer skill sets that you may be lacking—such as social media savvy.


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