• The Rewards of Mentoring

  • By Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA
    This will be the 40th published Instructors Blog I have written for AESAC over the last five years, so I thought it would be fitting to revisit one of the first topics I wrote about. Way back in December of 2014, I wrote about the Value of Mentoring and its importance to the environmental consulting industry. Over the last few decades I have had the pleasure of being a mentor with AESAC as well as in corporate settings, and more recently with the Professional Geoscientists of Ontario (PGO). This month I will discuss some of the personal benefits and rewards I have realized in mentoring numerous students, young professionals and even a few seasoned pros.
    Mentoring is good for our industry
    When experienced practitioners give sound advice to the next generation it greatly benefits our entire industry. Not every consulting company has the time and resources to thoroughly train new hires and recent graduates, while others lack the depth of expertise and real life experience to provide proper guidance. In some cases your boss may not be the best person to go to for career advice; and your friends or family may not be able to deliver unbiased recommendations on course selection or career direction. Having a neutral third party available for such information can be invaluable to someone starting their career, or changing direction. Learning and growing through mentoring will strengthen both the individual mentor and mentee, and help the environmental consulting industry as a whole.
    Mentoring helps to keep me feeling 'young'
    Although I don't often feel too 'old' or out of touch, I am getting closer to retirement age and get called 'Sir' more often than I would like (and I don't mean "Sir, I am going to have to ask you to be quiet or leave the premises"). Having the opportunity to talk with, listen to and interact with students and young professionals allows me to stay in touch with a much younger crowd and see the world from their perspective. As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, it can be too easy to dismiss current issues and problems facing Millennials or Gen Z. Their concerns may be different but they are just as real as those I and my cohorts faced when we were younger. Being able to provide the benefit of some of my hard earned lessons may help them to avoid potential pitfalls, as well as enabling multiple 'generations' to better relate to each other in the work force.
    Mentoring leads to great personal satisfaction
    Mentoring provides mutual benefits to both mentee and mentor. Few things give me greater satisfaction than to hear from a mentee about how much they are enjoying their course selection in school; how they were able to excel in an interview and get that important first job in their chosen career; how they finally landed their dream job with an industry leader; or to succeed in establishing their own company. It's even better when one of my mentees eventually becomes a mentor themselves. Their success stories are enriching and personally, it is very rewarding to hear that I played a small part (my italics) in attaining their goals. In reality their achievements have much more to do with perseverance and hard work, but it's still very fulfilling to share in their accomplishments.
    For all of these reasons and more, I encourage everyone who has the time and ability to consider becoming a mentor - it is both gratifying and important for the continued growth and success of our industry.
    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA
    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at info@down2earthenvironmental.ca