Mentoring is a Two-Way Street

When Lonni Schultz returned to Canada after working oversees, it took him longer than he had expected to find a job. During that time, Mr. Schultz, now a financial analyst at Canadian Pacific in Calgary, learned a lot about job search techniques and resumé writing.

He felt this knowledge would be particularly useful to a skilled immigrant new to Canada and as such decided to become a volunteer mentor as part of Canadian Pacific’s participation in the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council’s Mentoring Collaborative.

While he expected his mentee to learn from him and to in turn build his own mentorship capacity and coaching skills, Mr. Schultz actually learned so much more from his mentee Yaofeng Li.

The Mentor Becomes the Student

While delving into Mr. Li’s experience to help him create a skills-based resumé, Mr. Schultz began to see just how business intelligence — computer programs used in data mining, analysis and forecasting, and one of Mr. Li’s strengths — would impact his own career at Canadian Pacific.

From his work with Mr. Li, Mr. Schultz realized he needed to start adapting if he wanted to remain relevant in a changing field.

“I see my role as it is now becoming obsolete in a way because there’s a lot of manual analysis and data manipulation that we do that in the future will be done by business intelligence applications,” says Mr. Schultz.

He had been aware of different forecasting techniques but it was through working with Mr. Li that Mr. Schultz began to better understand which applications to use and how. With CP beginning to implement business intelligence applications, this insight will help Mr. Schultz develop his skills so he can adapt as his job evolves to include this technology.

‘Jazzing’ Up the Resumé

Mr. Li immigrated to Canada in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and a Master’s degree in business administration from a Chinese university, as well as a Master’s degree in economics from a French university. He also worked for seven years at China’s department of investment.

But once in Canada, Mr. Li could only find a job doing computer repair. When the company went out of business, he enrolled in a business intelligence course at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to gain some Canadian qualifications and joined the Mentoring Collaborative.

“I often joked with him that I wished I had the credentials he had,” says Mr. Schultz. Unfortunately, Mr. Li’s resumé didn’t highlight his impressive credentials and experience, he says. “It just needed to be jazzed up a bit.”

Together, they created a database of Mr. Li’s skills and experience so he could cherry pick the ones that related to a particular job and tailor his new skills-based resumé for each application.

While the bulk of their time was spent on Mr. Li’s resumé, they also did mock interviews to get him comfortable talking about his experience, giving enough detail in his answers and turning negative answers into positives by highlighting related experience.

An Ongoing Relationship

By the end of the 24-week mentorship program, Mr. Li had been to many job interviews and had many chances to practise the techniques he learned from Mr. Schultz, however, he still hadn’t found a job.

“I think I’ll be as happy as him when he gets a job,” says Mr. Schultz. And because of his desire to see his mentee succeed, Mr. Shultz will continue to work with him on an informal basis until he achieves that goal. “It’s been a rewarding experience.”

For more details on mentoring at Canadian Pacific, watch the webinar “Mentoring: How businesses are making it work.”

Tips for Employers

  • Mentoring is a two-way street with mentees and mentors learning from each other.
  • Skilled immigrants have different technical skills and knowledge that volunteer mentors can incorporate into their own jobs, which in turn helps the organization be more competitive and innovative.

Canadian Pacific is headquartered in Calgary and operates a North American transcontinental railway providing freight transportation services, logistics solutions and supply chain expertise. Canadian Pacific operates in six provinces and 11 states and has about 15,460 employees.