Mentor of the Month: February
This month we hear from Vedanta Bagchi MBA2009 about his experience of mentoring an LBS student. Vedanta is currently Vice President - Credit Portfolio Management at Commerzbank AG.
In one sentence, why is mentoring important?
As an alum, mentoring is the easiest way to give back to school what I have gained from it, by handholding and providing a sounding board to new students
Have you ever been mentored, either at LBS or in your career? What was the impact on you and your career?
Both in my academic and professional life, I have had a number of mentors who have helped me progress in my career, point me in the right direction whenever I had any doubts and proactively formulate solutions to career issues. As I have grown in my professional life, I have appreciated that both my junior colleagues in my organisations and students in my alma maters would benefit from similar help and guidance. I find it easier to mentor students who are in a similar field as I, i.e. finance. Mentoring initially requires a regular time commitment, but over time it becomes less of a formal professional relationship and more of a partnership. Quite a few of my mentees have become good friends over time
What’s been the highlight of becoming a mentor?
With all my mentees, the highlight is the joy and satisfaction I derive when they achieve some kind of professional success. I have typically seen that the mentorship process is U-shaped in nature, which starts with mentees coming into the workplace or into academics with very high expectations and an amazing degree of confidence. In the initial few months however, they face a number of challenges and career choices, where they require a lot of handholding, one-on-one sessions to provide practical guidance and encouragement, and helpful networking connections. During this period, I also try a lot to relate to my similar experiences and share these with my mentees. All my mentees have been extremely talented and have through hard work quickly attained successes in their careers – it’s this last bit which obviously brings me the most satisfaction.
If you could choose a dream mentor, who would you choose? Why?
My dream mentor would have been Mr Kumar Birla, the Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group and a MBA alum of London Business School. He took on the reins of the Birla conglomerate at a very young age and has since then increased the turnover of the business more than twenty times. At the same time, he has imbibed his businesses with a culture of tremendous integrity and professionalism. I have always considered him a role model, who is both a visionary and an entrepreneur.
What values characterise LBS? Where does mentorship fit into the LBS culture?
I think London Business School’s biggest strength is its multi-cultural student group. My MBA class has students from 70+ nationalities. A class of this diversity exposes its students to the identities, habits, practices and faiths of various cultures from all over the world, and tremendously broadens their vision and way of thinking. It also helps them make friendships and relationships that transcend borders, religions and customs. From the business point of view, it helps the students anticipate and address cross-cultural challenges, and form global teams. In today’s times, I think London Business School’s value system with multinationalism at its core is tremendously important and relevant.
The other value which, in my opinion, characterises London Business School is the tremendous culture of collaboration, co-operation and support across the student and alumni community. Everyone is more than happy to provide any help or guidance if requested to. This spirit flows into the culture of mentorship within the London Business School community.
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