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Mentorship and the Developing Professional Part VII: Career growth

January 17, 2022

Stantec's Developing Professionals Group (DPG) is providing inspiration for potential mentors and mentees by spotlighting existing connections to create an open platform

Mentorship is a valuable part of career growth for both mentors and mentees. It’s an experience in which both parties learn lessons that improve their professional and personal qualities. Kevin Kimmes, senior principal and mentor, and Mackenze Grunig, engineer and mentee, provide an example that shows the long-term benefits of mentorship.

As a professional engineer, Mackenze struggled with career development early on in his professional life and started weighing his options. Unsatisfied with his routine, he considered leaving Stantec. This is when Kevin stepped in. As a BC leader, Kevin had been asked to mentor others in the industry several times before he met Mackenze. When he heard that Mackenze, a colleague he had never met before, needed guidance, Kevin stepped up to the plate. After a short conversation together, Kevin and Mackenze decided to create a mentor/mentee relationship.

Since that day, about 18 months ago, Kevin and Mackenze’s relationship has grown strong. Both have been able to find tremendous value in their mentorship experience. “Kevin has been my push when I need the motivation and offers me a clear perspective from a trusted colleague and friend,” said Mackenze. “Having a mentor gives you another person who knows your value and who can help you take the next steps in your career.”

According to Kevin, everyone should eventually strive to be a mentor. “When I am having a bad day or things are going rough, Mackenze is there for me,” Kevin said. “This relationship is not a one-way street by any means. He helps me through things as well.”

They have scheduled meetings every other week, with topics of discussion that range from professional development strategies to catching up with each other’s personal lives. The pair are also taking an online self-reflection course together.

They have scheduled meetings every other week, with topics of discussion that range from professional development strategies to catching up with each other’s personal lives. The pair are also taking an online self-reflection course together.

Mentorship unlocked opportunities for Mackenze he once thought inaccessible. “Mentorship has allowed me to meet a lot of different people and work outside my group,” he said. “It has also given me more opportunities to pursue different types of clients and projects.” These opportunities helped Mackenze find clarity in his career path and helped him develop into a better engineer. Mackenze now finds himself in discussions he once thought he was not ready for.

As for Kevin, he says he has also learned things from this mentorship relationship and has gone on to apply them at Stantec. “As the mentor, I get so much value from my time with the people I am mentoring,” Kevin said. “Having the mentor/mentee relationship provides me with straight, honest feedback that I can trust at many different levels in the company.”

Mackenze recalls one specific moment where having a mentor changed the way he thought about his career. Fairly early into Kevin and Mackenze’s mentorship meetings, an opportunity came along where Stantec was asked to respond to a client’s need for a city engineer.

“Kevin thought I would be an excellent candidate to be the city engineer in the proposal,” Mackenze said. “At that point in my career, I was blown away that someone had that kind of faith in me. It was a huge boost to my confidence.” 

Looking back on their relationship, Kevin remembers one of his proudest moments as a mentor. Mackenze had been interviewed by the local American Public Works Association chapter in Minnesota for a piece about new and rising members. The last question asked of Mackenze was if he had any advice for young people just starting out in their career.

“His answer was ‘get a mentor!’ It made my year,” Kevin said. “I knew I was making a difference for him and that is all that matters.”

Mentorships are important no matter what career path someone is on; they help align passions with goals. For future mentors, Kevin’s advice is to take the time to listen. “Be present and all in. You are helping guide a person’s career and life choices,” Kevin said. “There is no more important work I do here.” 

Mentorships are important no matter what career path someone is on; they help align passions with goals.

For future mentees, Mackenze says consider meeting in a more relaxed environment. “To really feel comfortable with a mentor, it’s great to have the opportunity to meet outside of an office setting. For Kevin and me, it was golf.” The pair has spent time away from work on the golf course as a fun way to strengthen their relationship.

Overall, both Mackenze and Kevin consider their experience with mentorship a success.

“I have seen Mackenze realize that things do not just have to be the way they have always been,” Kevin said. “He has developed confidence to challenge decisions about his career and what he should be doing next.” Because of his experience with mentorship, Mackenze is ready to take on the other side as he signed up to be on the mentor list at Stantec, noting “it is an honor to be asked to be a mentor.”

For those considering mentorship, reach out to those who you look up to, ask for the list of volunteer mentors, contact your DPG chapter lead, or reach out to your local leaders. “It’s okay to meet with multiple people to see which person you match up with best,” Kevin said.

Learn more about how Stantec’s Developing Professionals Group here and how we’re supporting our new hires as well as our established professionals through a mentor/mentee relationship.

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