by Jacqueline Biollo, MBA, ICD.D
I wasn’t looking for a mentor, per se, but my professional journey is paved from inspiration and confidence building opportunities that changed how I perceive the world around me, and how the values of leadership, empowerment, and risk-taking shaped who I am today.
Ralph was an accountant, Martin a social advocate, Gary was a police officer, Stuart a politician, Ron an educator, and Gordon is my dad. An incomplete list of strong and influential individuals who opened doors, helped pick up the pieces, provided resources or references, and encouraged me to acquire the skills that helped me realize my goals.
Mentorship is designed to provide opportunities, knowledge and connections. The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Edmonton’s mentorship program pairs members who want to develop new skills, network, and learn new ways of approaching challenges and projects with established professionals working in the field of public relations.
Although much of my mentoring experience is unscripted, I was fortunate to give back some of what I learned and valued as a mentee by volunteering with interVivos, an organization that cultivates leadership through dialogue, engagement, and mentorship. As a mentor, I was paired with eager minds with diverse backgrounds and interests. Our mentorship experience focused on career development, personal growth and development, leadership, workplace challenges, career changes, building networks, questioning comfort zones, and work-life effectiveness.
Statistics Canada reported that in 2021, 30.9 per cent of females worked in senior management occupations, which rationalizes why my mentors were primarily middle-aged men. I have, however, mentored more individuals who identify as female than male. So what does this say about diversity in the workplace, if anything? CPRS (Toronto) asked, in September 2020, “Does PR have a diversity problem?” and discussed how “PR’s image is lily-white”.
To establish and maintain meaningful mentorship relationships, we need to see an image of a diverse industry, representative of factors like ethnicity and race that impact where individuals are placed in the power scheme. Be, or seek out, a mentor that embraces diversity. Mentor to emulate, learn from, or create support groups for individuals and the industry to thrive. Mentor because you have something of value to contribute. Be mentored because you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
For more information on CPRS (Edmonton) Mentorship Program, visit https://cprsedmonton.ca/mentorship/.
Jacqueline Biollo is a seasoned relationship builder and dedicated collaborator with proven expertise leading government and public relations functions, implementing comprehensive strategies, and in collaboration with stakeholders to advance strategic objectives.