Professional Development

how to find a mentor

How to find a mentor who is perfect for you

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There are many potential paths to take on the quest for professional growth, including on the job training, pursuing a graduate degree or professional certification, and seeking mentorships. At one of our recent candidate events in Nairobi, we invited three experts in finance to hear their take on career growth. Mentorship was one of the primary areas they emphasized including how to find a mentor who is perfect for you.

Why learning how to find a mentor is important

“Mentors are supposed to help you make the right decision at the right time to enable you to grab the rare opportunities, “ said Job Muriuki, the CEO of Momentum Credit. Job noted that the pivotal decisions young professionals make in their twenties can make this the most crucial phase in their personal and professional lives (no pressure!). One thing we all can agree on is that we don’t necessarily have all the experience it takes to make these massive decisions on our own.

Learning how to find a mentor can provide you with someone to guide you in making the right choices, since they have been at the phase you are in and know what you should put more effort in and what to avoid. “Opportunities are not as easy to get — especially in a market like Kenya. It’s therefore important that you meet someone to help you make those big decisions,” added Job.

We acknowledge that mentorship is an excellent way to develop skills we don’t have yet, tap into new networks and improve both our personal and career goals. So what are the characteristics you should look for in a mentor?

Do you have a genuine connection with your potential mentor?

Some companies or training programs assign young professionals a mentor within a formal system. But according to Sharon Olende, Senior Advisor at Lendable, mentorship ideally shouldn’t be a match-up programme decided by a third party. Instead, it should be a natural relationship that evolves from shared interests and a genuine accord. “You have to have that relationship with someone; you will later come to a mentor/mentee relationship, but I think a natural fit with your possible mentor comes first, and it might be with several people,” she said. “It’s important to have that natural camaraderie.”

Many people think that they ought to ask the most senior or impressive person possible to be their mentor. However, it is more important to choose someone you are comfortable spending time with. Being relaxed will allow the two of you to easily communicate and guarantee a long-lasting, mutually enjoyable relationship. It will also allow your mentor to feel comfortable occasionally giving you constructive or difficult feedback, along with the positive.

What are you looking to gain from your potential mentor?

Next, you should think about what you are looking to achieve from this mentorship. For example, do you want to grow in your current function or are you hoping to switch to a different industry? Peace Osangir, COO of Kopo Kopo, suggests asking yourself, “Am I looking for career advancement? Am I looking to shift fields? Am I looking to move up? And who in my network can help successfully navigate that? Do we gel?”

“It may not necessarily be someone above you, it could be your peer, but they’re really good at something you need support in. It’s important for you to know what you’re looking for,” she added.

Once you’re clear with yourself about what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to understand how to find a mentor by defining the type of person you should seek out. Further, laying down clear expectations with your mentor not only helps to keep your meetings productive but also shows your level of seriousness with the relationship.

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Panellists at the event; L-R Sharon Olende, Peace Onsagir, Job Muriuki and Ariane Fisher, Managing Director at Shortlist moderating the panel

Are they trustworthy?

You may end up sharing a lot with your mentor. For example, you may come to them if you’re having issues with your manager, need advice based on a not-yet-public development within your company, or are considering leaving your job. It is therefore vital to ensure that you pick a trustworthy mentor who will respect the confidentiality of your discussions.

Peace noted, “it should be someone who knows how to keep confidential information confidential — that’s important. You don’t want to have a private conversation about your family or your life and next they’ve repeated it.”

“My mentor is like my brother. We talk about family, business, life, faith, everything,” said Job.

how to find a mentor

A section of attendees at the event

Have they succeeded in a field(s) you are interested in?

It is essential when focusing on how to find a mentor you reach out to someone who has excelled in the areas you are interested in. This does not mean focussing only on the years of experience or title of your possible mentor though. You should go for an individual with the expertise to help you with your journey and bring the best out of you. This will ensure you are able to learn new perspectives to incorporate into your current routine to get better.

Is your mentor different from you?

While commonality could be great, it could be useful to have a mentor who comes from a more diverse background for various reasons such as learning skills you don’t have yet or to get different perspectives on ideas. According to Sharon, one guide for learning how to pick a mentor is selecting someone diverse. “Look for a mentor who is different from you. Check-in your community, it could be someone you go to the same church with, look everywhere!” she said.

Do they have time for you?

It’s crucial to ensure your mentor is not too busy for you. Are they able to set aside some time in their schedule to help you get where you need? “They may be fantastic, check all the boxes, but they’re just very busy. It’s a balance of time,” said Peace.

Remember that this is a two-way street; you also have to ensure you are not too busy to be mentored. Show up to the meetings on time, attend events your mentor invites you to and complete any tasks assigned to you in good time.

Learning how to find a mentor who is perfect for you, does not have to be hard. Lay down the areas you need help with and pick someone who can give valuable advice throughout the journey. Ensure that you gel, they have time for you and that they are trustworthy. And yes, you can have more than one 🙂

How did you pick your mentor? Let us know!

In the meantime, here’s another article that might interest you: Two HR leaders weigh in on building relationships with mentors

Business Mentor: Two HR leaders weigh in on building that relationship

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Cellulant’s Rose Gichure and WWF’s Victor Komu share how to build a fruitful relationship with your business mentor.

Through mentorship, we have the opportunity to learn from another person’s journey. A great relationship between a business mentor and mentee could be the difference between you learning the lessons “the hard way” or sidestepping mistakes in your professional journey.

Having busy professionals lend their time and energy to us means that we must be intentional about how we cultivate and manage such relationships. We spoke to two HR leaders in Kenya about what it means to have a business mentor and how to go about ensuring that we get the most value from our interactions with our mentors.

business mentorFirst, we spoke to Rose Gichure, Group Talent Manager and HRBP at Cellulant in Nairobi. Rose has been at Cellulant for about 1.5 years and previously, she was a Recruitment Specialist at Rose Avenue Consulting Group.

Why is it valuable to have a business mentor?

Having a mentor is like having a sounding board to bounce off ideas, an accountability partner to create boundaries and keep you on your toes, a parent to discipline you if needed, a friend to offer encouragement and a cheerleader to keep you going,  all bundled into one.

They are rooting for you, calling you out on your bulls****, and believe in you even when you are about to give up. A mentor will always be brutally honest with you and tell you exactly how it is rather than downplay any weaknesses they see in you.

You can tap into their wealth of knowledge, networks, as this shortens your learning curve. A mentor does not tell you what to do; they point you in the right direction; while asking you the right questions that enable you to put together a masterpiece. They have experiences you can learn from.

Having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it shows you are smart enough and driven enough to succeed.

How can you be a great mentee?

Being a great mentee is hard. The journey is hard, but the fruits of success are fulfilling. You have to be disciplined, take criticism and accept your faults, be willing to be stretched and grow. My advice is to adopt a Growth Mindset and a Beginners Mindset.

Beginner’s mindset means taking on the curiosity of a child and wanting to learn new things, accepting that you do not know it all. A growth mindset means accepting to learn new ways of doing things vs always having a fixed mindset about how things should happen.

business mentor

Next, we got valuable insights on being a business mentor from Victor Komu, HR and Administration Manager at WWF Kenya. Victor has been with WWF for over six years and was previously a Human Resource Partner at English Press Limited.

What are the key things I need to keep in mind while developing a relationship with my business mentor?

Developing and maintaining a relationship with your mentor involves understanding and building on several things:

  • Which roles would you want your mentor to play? – A guide, role model, professional friend, thinking partner, challenger or performance coach.
  • What your first conversations are about – These should revolve around getting to know each other, building trust and agreeing on how to work together.
  • Begin to define your goals: – What does success look like for you? In addition to this;
  • Understand the setting in your relationship – Make sure you and your mentor agree on the expectations and establish a level of confidentiality.

What does a business mentor expect of their mentee?

As a mentee, trying to get the most value out of your  relationship is on you; hence, it is important to know what is expected of a mentee:

  • Initiate and drive the relationship – Be clear on the assistance you need. Find the right people in your circle, whom you believe would provide the necessary guidance. In addition to this, always follow through on commitments.
  • Allocate time and energy – Communicate more and schedule time to catch up on your progress regularly. Most business mentors, while willing to help are always busy; hence, you must value their time.
  • Take an active role in your learning – Challenge yourself. While every person’s success story is in many aspects different, a recurring theme in all of them is the dedication, time and focus required to ensure that you master your craft.
  • Openness and honesty – A mentor-mentee relationship creates a ‘safe space’ that gives room for vulnerability. Feel free to open up to your mentor on what challenges you are facing as this will help you identify any areas of improvement. Remember asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to accept that you need a hand to help you reach greater heights.

Thank you so much to Rose and Victor for sharing these valuable insights and tips on business mentors! We agree with Rose that “All in all, the world is a better place when we learn from the ones who have gone before us and then pay it forward by mentoring others when the time comes.”

Now, we’d love to hear from you too! Have you had the privilege of being mentored or mentoring someone? Let us know some of the things that helped you build and maintain a relationship with them. Read more on how to pick your perfect mentor.

Moving laterally to move upwards

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Are career paths ladders or lattices? When we think about promotions and progression in our careers, we often expect this to come in terms of vertical moves. However, before turning down an opportunity for moving laterally (meaning a move within your own company or to a new organization with similar pay and responsibility level) what do you need to consider?

We hosted Sales, Marketing and Advertising professionals for a networking event in Nairobi. We had several leaders in these fields  –Christopher Madison, CEO at Dentsu Aegis, Elizabeth Karani, Country Manager at Beauty Click and Charles Kariuki, Global Sales Manager at Ecozoom — shared some insights on how moving laterally across positions could eventually lead to one climbing up the ladder.

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Our panelists (from right): Christopher Madison, Elizabeth Karani, Charles Kariuki and our East Africa MD Ariane Fisher moderating the session

They emphasised the need to consider what you stand to gain by making this horizontal move. Here are a few of their main tips:

Forget titles!

Chris reiterated that it is far more important to focus on who you will become rather than what your title will be. Will you get an opportunity to expand your skills? e.g. as a communicator, advertiser, analyst or recruiter?

Charles also brought up the compensation aspect . We sometimes focus on the fact that moving laterally will give us a similar level of earnings that we overlook other complimentary benefits. This might be in the form of more flexible hours; less travel required a more inspiring leadership team or a different team culture.

moving laterally
Brief networking session between Elizabeth and some of the attendees

What do you stand to learn?

According to Elizabeth, a horizontal move presents an opportunity to learn new skills. Stay curious and know what you like and want. Make your experiences count and be intentional about what you want to accomplish.

Learning new skills will help you stay fresh and current and helps you remain competitive. A lateral move will also give you the opportunity to understand a different facet of the organization and give you more visibility with new team members and managers. This could eventually lead to a promotion when opportunities arise.

Have an end goal in mind

Charles stressed the importance of having the end-result in mind while being flexible in your methods. “What counts is you’re making yourself better where you are,” he said. Seek out ways in which you will increase your achievements by broadening your knowledge base and trying out new things.

One practical way of doing this is educating yourself on where you need to be at the next level, in terms of skill and experience. Chris suggested that you can do this by looking at job descriptions of the positions you want. Compare with where you are at the moment and start filling in the gaps in skills that you may not currently possess.

“Linkedin is a great tool to learn about these gaps,” Elizabeth suggested.

Chris Madison interacting with some of the attendees after the panel discussion

“Keeping your financial and life goals in mind, helps you to start making better decisions on where you should be and how fast you want to get there,” said Chris. “You can then do the math and push yourself harder,” he added.

In conclusion, having your goals in mind, looking beyond the titles and the salary aspect of shifting positions will often make the path towards making that final decision a bit clearer.

Next steps:

Before making the move, ask yourself these questions to decide on your next course of action:

  • What are my career goals?
  • What are my personal and financial goals?
  • What do I stand to learn in this new position?
  • Besides a higher salary, what other benefits am I looking for?
  • Does this move offer the possibility of a vertical progression?

Have you made a lateral move that has propelled your career upwards? We’d love to hear from you, do let us know in the comment section what you learnt and how the experience shaped your career.

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Shortlister Spotlight: Meet Brenda, Applicant Care Associate

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At Shortlist, we love building our team almost as much as we love building yours! We have some pretty amazing people across our three offices who have a real passion for what they do and for the Shortlist mission.

Today’s installment of Shortlister Spotlights (a Q&A series to get to know some of our team members) stars Brenda, an Applicant Care Associate in our Kenya office!

Who is Brenda? When not at work, she’s probably in between classes, catching up with friends and family or on some of her favourite series, trying out a new recipe that involves pasta or getting some much needed shut eye! She also likes to make the most use of her commute time reading articles on Medium or a book on her current reading list. Basically embodying one of our favourite Shortlist values, Be a Whole Person.

A fashionista, party-animal or a foodie? Read on to find more about the face behind #CandidateLove!


Hi Brenda! Tell us about what you do at Shortlist:

My role involves working with candidates. Excellent candidate experience is our top priority and as such my role revolves around getting them through their applications by providing information that pertains to the roles we are recruiting for. In addition to that, I also educate both current and potential applicants on how the Shortlist process works as well as ensure that they get feedback on their applications promptly.

I also create content for our candidate blog series where we discuss different issues affecting job seekers and give guidelines on how candidates can get their dream job! Recently, we kicked off a candidates engagement series where we seek to establish deeper interactions with professionals in different fields through training and networking events.

What is your professional background, and what were you looking for in your next career step when you found Shortlist?

Before Shortlist, I was in Sales which involved customer acquisition and education. I then moved to Customer Service which was more of a support role, offering aftersales services and upselling and cross-selling products to existing customers.

When I found Shortlist, I was looking for an opportunity to take on more a challenging role in terms of the scope of responsibilities and expand my knowledge in customer experience. In addition to that, I wanted to be in a space that offers opportunities for both personal and professional growth and development.

What’s your professional superpower?

Empathy.

What’s your favourite Shortlist value and why? (Check out our values here)

Being a whole person: Ever since I joined Shortlist I feel like I’m well on my way to becoming one! As a part-time student and also working full time, it can be difficult to manage both without feeling like one end is falling off your plate. I am fortunate enough to be at Shortlist where we are constantly encouraged to be more than your job.

Because of this, I’ve tried out a couple of new things — for example, I started writing and learnt new skills in digital marketing through managing our candidate social media engagements. I have also been able to have a bit more time for friends and family thanks to the occasional flexibility that my job gives me — I’m now able to plan on when to get my work done and dedicate time to other activities.

What are the three words you would use to describe Team Shortlist?

Brilliant! Upbeat! Industrious!

Brenda also loves fashion!

What’s your favourite Shortlist memory?

There’s so much that happens on a day to day, and I make memories at Shortlist every day! My favourite so far has to be my first week at Shortlist; Aside from the warm welcome, we were kick-starting a major project, and everyone was nervous about how it was going to turn out. We were about nine team members in Shortlist (Kenya office) at the time and having each one of us embody the team spirit played a part in ensuring that the project was a success. The commitment and collaboration did enhance Shortlist One Team value way before it was even made official.

Why is the Shortlist mission important to you?

Helping candidates unlock their potential is important. Shortlist brings a new way into the recruitment process and especially how we treat candidates as we try and bring dignity back into the recruitment. On a personal level, I went through the process and felt the Shortlist difference so helping others through the same and having them feel comfortable and confident in the process is of utmost importance.

As you know, we like to give “high-fives” to recognise when our team members do something awesome. Now is your chance to make a public high five to a fellow Shortlister:

Edinah: Willing to help and always happy!! Literally, it’s contagious!

Olivia: I can’t think of a time I have approached her with questions on anything communications and content related or regarding my role with somewhat difficult responses, that she has not graciously come to my rescue!

Alvin: Ever so generous with his knowledge and experience. I think we have all benefited from Alvin’s expertise both at a professional and personal level.

Mercy: Life of the house for sure! A great listener too.

Ceverene: It’s such a pleasure to work with her; she’s very detail oriented and ensures she gets things done down to the last T.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Girl time is always fun time!

Hanging out with family and friends. This is usually my way of getting out of my head (introverts will understand).

I try and workout whenever I can, and I prefer outdoor activities/workouts. I run every weekend and try to squeeze in 15 minutes for an at-home workout. I find YouTube videos helpful for this. I also have a BBG guide which my colleague Olivia shared with me sometime back and a Shawn T guide for more intensive training.

I am trying to make reading a habit, and so I read a lot more lately. I am currently reading, Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn by John C Maxwell. The book gives insight into why we should not focus so much on our loses and always see these as an opportunity to gain some new perspective and make better decisions. It also paints a clear picture of the damage we can do to ourselves when we fail to learn from our failures or if we allow ourselves to remain defeated.

Have some alone time — I am a natural introvert, but I can be an extrovert occasionally. Hence, I do appreciate time to sit down, organise my thoughts and recharge before taking on a new project.

I also love to listen to music, and a Techno/EDM playlist is always my go-to when I feel myself getting sluggish.

Sleep! My job takes a lot of my mental energy and juggling both work, and school really drains me. This helps me to reboot.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve never been one of those people who’ve always wanted to be one thing in life. I have had moments where I could switch up… I remember I wanted to be a musician at one point. My Mother freaked out when I told her this and insisted I study Business instead. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a doctor, thanks to my love for Biology. Then I grew up, and I just could never see myself working in bloody environments or practising on dead bodies.

I have also wanted to be an Architect like my Father — not sure what happened to this one. Last and currently on my list is a Psychologist. I love helping people and giving advice, and I believe I will get around to doing this at some point in my life. 😊

Tell us about a candidate that inspired you?

I’m always inspired by candidates, working with them every day. I admire their determination to keep going and try again even after a setback. I have encountered an applicant who has been declined for positions seven times and kept on trying until she was finally hired for the eighth role she applied to. The resilience and the determination to not give up despite many failed attempts really inspired me.

Another example is a candidate who has attended each training since we started candidate engagement events. What was inspiring about this is the effort he made towards his professional development by taking the time to attend training consistently to upskill himself.

What surprised you about working at Shortlist/ how is Shortlist different than other companies?

Shortlist has a dedicated leadership team keen to help each team member achieve their highest potential. It also offers a challenging environment where you get opportunities to try your hand at different things and learn new skills.

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?

Reading Sometimes you win; sometimes you learn by John C Maxwell, watching Dynasty, Star and HTGAWM, and listening to… really depends on my mood or vibe.

Meet Brenda’s bestie, Mimi

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

My inspirational quote is If I use all I’ve got, God will be all that I’m not! — A reminder to always work your potential, put your best foot forward and believe that you will eventually get to where you want to be!

What is that place in the world you’ve not visited yet but would love to?

Italy! The country of amazing fashion, art and of course PASTA!🍝

Which two individuals, living or dead, would you love to sit next to during your flight back from the above destination?

Trevor Noah — who wouldn’t want to laugh all the way back? — and Ayodeji Awosika — he’s an amazing writer.

Final words?

You don’t have to create a masterpiece every day, some days you just need to paint.


Thank you, Brenda! We are so lucky to have you on Team Shortlist.

best career advice

Seven young business leaders in Kenya share the best career advice they ever received

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Whether you are just getting started or at the peak of your career, insightful professional advice will not only help you excel in your day-to-day but also see you through career transition and advancement. At Shortlist, we are consistently inspired by our clients and partners who have made their mark in Kenya early on in their careers. We asked seven young business leaders in Nairobi to share the best career advice that has propelled them to rewarding and impactful careers.

Tweet us at @Shortlisthires with your favourite one!

Christopher Madison, CEO — Dentsu Aegis Network

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Christopher Madison is CEO at Dentsu Aegis Network, a Marketing and Advertising company that innovates the way brands are built. Dentsu strives to make its clients’ brands win in a changing world. Chris shared the best career advice he’s gotten with us:

“The worst business advice I ever received was ‘do what you love’ at my New York University graduation-commencement. I have since learned “do what makes you money” works much better for me. I know, I know — it’s not exactly the stuff that makes a good Instagram post. And on one level, this approach goes against everything our culture tells us we should do with our careers. But there’s something to be said for financial stability.

To a greater extent than most of us want to admit, you’re only as principled and independent-minded as your bank account allows you to be. “Do what you love” is probably much better advice for someone who’s born rich, or holds a tenured academic position, than it is for the rest of us 99 percenters.

Besides, are we really so sure that the best thing to do with passion is attempting to monetise it, anyway? Why assume it’s easier to turn passion into money than it is to turn money into passion? Why not side hustle for love, and enjoy your career to make money?”

Lelo Koinange, Regional Operations Manager — Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos)

best career advice

Lelo Koinange is the Kenya Regional Operations Manager at Hivos, an international organisation that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. Hivos works on projects that are against discrimination, inequality, and abuse of power with the aim of moving to a world where all people have the same rights, irrespective of gender, beliefs or sexual orientation. Here’s the best career advice Lelo received:

“I had a great HR mentor earlier on in my career; she was both fire and wind on any given day. What resonates with me till today was her opening and closing statement at literally all meetings and that was, “Go the extra mile, never settle for what’s expected of you” by Nadya Salim.

I know you’ve heard it a million times, but the truth is if you want results you have to be willing to put in the work — and more. Develop a great personal brand that’s based on working harder than everyone around you. A few guidelines for this:

  • Get in early
  • Ask the questions no one wants to
  • Do more research than what’s requested
  • Understanding the business of the organisation no matter your position in the organisation
  • Take risks early on in your career
  • Identify your skills and utilise them
  • Acknowledge that mistakes are part of learning

…as long as you never ever settle for what’s expected.”

Wawira Njiru, Founder and Executive Director — Food for Education Foundation

Wawira Njiru is the Founder and Executive Director at Food for Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation in Kenya that provides heavily-subsidised meals to students in urban primary schools. The firm sources fresh food directly from farmers and uses a central kitchen model to deliver the nutritious meal. Here is the best career advice Wawira had to share:

“I was lucky to discover what I wanted to do early in life, but along the way, like any other young person, I found myself distracted by other interests I wanted to pursue. I started a Masters in Public Health thinking I wanted to get into the health system but discovered that I was not as passionate about that and decided to focus on building Food for Education and providing meals to more children.

It’s easy to get side-tracked especially if you’re talented (or think you are) in many things, but there’s a lot of value in mastering one thing and learning how to do it well.

There’s also a lot of value in consistency and learning how to do things excellently. It may sound boring but doing the same thing over and over will help you become better and a master in your field.”

Ariane Fisher, Managing Director, East Africa — Shortlist

best career advice

Ariane Fisher is our Managing Director based at the Shortlist Nairobi office. Shortlist helps growing companies in Africa and India build and develop world-class teams. The Shortlist platform screens candidates using predictive chat-based interviews and online competency-based assessments, letting employers skip the most time-consuming and bias-prone phases of hiring. Here is the best career advice Ariane shared with us:

Surround yourself with the right people — There is no single greater influence on who you are and who you will become than the people you spend time with. Surround yourself with people who you think are doing interesting and important work, who you can learn from, and who you can grow with.

Listen, listen, listen — Develop the ability to ask great questions, and truly listen to other perspectives. Build comfort with having your mind changed with new evidence, and for making everyone around you feel heard.

Learn how to give and receive difficult feedback — Developing the skill early to give critical and constructive feedback to those around you, as well as seek out and truly receive critical feedback yourself, will help you in your entire career.”

Christopher Mwirigi, Learning and Development Manager — I&M Bank

Christopher Mwirigi is the Learning & Development Manager at I&M Bank Ltd, a privately owned commercial bank. The bank is a dominant player in the Kenyan market and has been consistently growing by innovating the type and range of products and services it offers. Here is Christopher’s best career advice:

“For me, I remember being told that, ‘Always remember that integrity is something that nobody can ever take away from you. You always give it away willingly.’ That was from a professional mentor, and it is a lesson that has stuck with me for the rest of my career and life.

Another one I received from a very special leader I reported to called Hellen Akello was, ‘Never come to my desk with a problem only, always come with a problem and a solution.

She was a brilliant leader I must add, and that lesson has been with me ever since and will follow me for the rest of my career.”

Isis Nyongo’ Madison, CEO — MumsVillage

Isis Nyongo is CEO at MumsVillage, a vibrant online village in Kenya that enables mothers to access and share locally relevant content and products through peer-to-peer communities. The parenting website provides resources, support and expert advice for pregnant women and parents for them to relax and express themselves among a community of like-minded friends. Isis shared her best career advice with us:

“As I reflect on the advice I’ve received over the years, I consider myself quite fortunate to have a diverse pool of people in my life to seek advice from. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way is to understand the perspective of the person giving the advice and how they perceive you.

For example, if your high school friend works in an industry completely different from yours, it may be more helpful to seek advice on navigating office politics (since they happen everywhere!) as opposed to advice on which graduate program to choose. The person giving the advice must be giving informed opinions and not just an opinion because you asked them for it or it was shared unsolicited.

That said, one of the best pieces of advice I received was from my brother almost a decade ago when I was deciding whether or not to accept an offer from a company for a senior role. He works in academia, and I work in tech so our fields and work environments couldn’t be more different. But this is what he said that helped me then and continues to help me to date:

“Know what people want you to do and if that is work you want to do.”

He shared examples of how when you get to a certain level of expertise, you’ll attract opportunities that want that expertise, but perhaps you no longer want to keep doing an aspect of what you’ve been doing so well.

For example, you may excel at building strategy documents but may get so tired of doing them that that’s the last thing you want to carry forward into a new role. This has helped me make so many decisions, big and small, about how I spend my time and also enabled me to open up opportunities to others.”

Fiona Mungai, Managing Director — Endeavour Kenya

Fiona Mungai is the Managing Director at Endeavour Africa Limited, a not-for-profit organisation that supports high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. Endeavour offers advice to entrepreneurs from a network of world-class business leaders with the aim of breaking down economic and cultural barriers to entrepreneurship. Here are the words of the best career advice that Fiona consciously tries to live by and have this far healthily manifested in her life as a young woman in corporate leadership:

“There is no truism or realism in the pursuit of WORK / LIFE BALANCE — it’s a myth. In order to thrive, we should strive to integrate what really matters into ONE LIFE with harmony — everything you do complements your life’s work.

I received this advice from a Harvard Business School Professor — Prof Lynda Applegate during an Executive Education Program. I initially thought this applies more to women as there’s a lot of discourse on working women trying to balance life and having it all together. As I reflect more upon it, it definitely applies across the board.

An example I can draw from is when I decided to go back to Graduate School — I had attempted to combine both school and work but found that at any given time there was always a casualty to my juggling and that tended to be school. And because I was aware that the networks and top tier education were integral to where my career was headed, I opted to enrol to a full-time program at the London School of Economics (LSE) and quit my job at a leading Private Equity firm.

Looking back, that was probably the best decision of my life as the LSE created amazing opportunities and ultimately turbo-charged my career in ways that I would’ve never imagined.”

Thanks to the seven leaders for invaluable advice!

What’s the best advice you have received in the pursuit of your career goals? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section or on Twitter @Shortlisthires.

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Related: Five young Indian business leaders share the best career advice they ever received