SUCCESS STORIES

Story: Beste Bilen ’22 VSB and Deep Shah ’15 VSB

Beste is from Istanbul, Turkey, and will graduate in May 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in Accounting & Management Information Systems. Deep graduated from Villanova in 2015 with a degree in Accounting & Management Information Systems. He currently works at RSM as a consulting manager for complex financial instruments.

Beste Bilen ’22 VSB and Deep Shah ’15 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?     

“I was fascinated by the VSB alumni who I have met throughout my first year at Villanova. They were all very accomplished in their careers and also had great work and life ethics. I wanted to learn from them as much as I could, and fortunately I was assigned a mentor who has taught me a lot during my three years!” – Beste

“Looking back to my early years at Villanova, I can still recall the questions I had about beginning my career. I appreciate the value of mentorship as it can guide students in whose shoes you once stood to seek their passions and careers.” – Deep

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience with the VSB Mentor Program has been incredible. When I first met Deep, I was a new transfer to the Villanova School of Business from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and I needed guidance in my new environment. At the time, I barely knew what each major had to offer. After hearing about Deep’s story and his accomplishments, I had a much better understanding of the countless opportunities that VSB offers students. This has made my mentorship experience exceed my expectations!”– Beste

“My experience with Beste has been wonderful. Mentorship relationships should develop organically in order to be most successful, and I believe that our relationship reflects this. Throughout our experience working together, Beste has been inquisitive in wanting to understand potential career paths, and I have seen her impressively consider and develop her short-term and long-term visions.” – Deep

What makes your relationship a successful one?   

“We developed a friendly relationship in which we were both comfortable with reaching out to each other. Deep made himself available to answer my questions even when he was extremely busy at work. He even accepted the opportunity to be a speaker for a society I organize on campus called Business Without Borders. All of these memories made our relationship strong and successful, and I am confident we will stay in contact beyond college.” – Beste

“I believe it is important for a mentor relationship to have a foundation that encourages open conversations such that it can be a mixture of hands-on and hands-off mentoring. In this case, the relationship has included anything from the occasional ad-hoc question to the very detailed and in-depth career discussions, which I believe has fostered an easy line of communication.” – Deep

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?     

“The best part of having a mentor is to be able to talk with someone who has already been in my shoes and gone through the struggles that I am currently facing. I constantly talk about my concerns and desires regarding my career path with Deep. He always listens carefully and reminds me that there are countless opportunities that I can take in the future and I should focus on the big picture instead of stressing over the short-term details. One of the best pieces of advice that he gave me was that no matter what, I should take care of myself and prioritize my happiness first. Once I make my happiness a priority, I can then make the best decisions to pivot my career to where I want it to be. Listening to him talk about the intersection of happiness and career was very influential and I will carry his advice every step of my professional life.” – Beste

“Having Beste as my mentee reminds me of my time at Villanova. It’s exciting to see someone developing their career from the same alma mater and makes me reminisce having once been in her shoes. It is also a great feeling watching the growth and success of your mentee.” – Deep

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“Instead of scheduling formal monthly meetings, we reach out to each other when we need to discuss a particular subject, when I need Deep’s opinion on a specific question, or just to catch up. I believe this less formal practice helped our relationship a lot since we did not feel obligated to follow specific guidelines.” – Beste

“Put aside some of the expectations at the outset of the relationship and instead let them develop organically over time. Communicate well and check-in periodically. Focus on the purpose of the mentorship and build from there.” – Deep

  

Story: Sydney Karpowich ’22 VSB and Robin Gray ’84 VSB

Sydney is from Sugarloaf, Pa., and will graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, International Business, and Data Analytics. Robin is currently the owner of the Law Office of Robin J. Gray where she serves as an attorney. She graduated from Villanova in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in International Finance.

Sydney Karpowich ’22 VSB and Robin Gray ’84 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?

“I was inspired to join the VSB Mentor Program after hearing from upperclassmen how valuable their mentor experiences were. I recognized how helpful it would be to connect with a VSB alumnus who has experience in the field I am pursuing.” – Sydney

“I believe that mentoring is beneficial in helping students navigate real-world situations as they enter the workforce and know how to prepare when speaking with prospective employers. I strongly believe in education and want to help students in any way I can.” – Robin

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My mentor experience has greatly surpassed my initial expectations. I opted into the VSB Mentor Program at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was unsure how successful having a virtual mentorship would be. However, my mentor has gone above and beyond to provide me with opportunities virtually. For example, when her court cases were transitioned online, she graciously allowed me to join in virtually in order to gain a better understanding of the legal process.” – Sydney

“Mentoring Sydney has greatly exceeded my expectations. The relationship has worked both ways. I hope that I have helped Sydney and I know she has helped me by sharing her experiences with her internships, interactions with her prospective employers and her educational experience. This has helped me refocus my attention on my own business and how I conduct business and interactions with others in a very positive way.” – Robin

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Our relationship has been successful because we have an open and honest dialogue. Communicating expectations, being honest about what I need help with and expressing what is going on in our lives has made the mentoring process simple and rewarding.” – Sydney

“Our ability to communicate and talk about anything has made our relationship very successful.  Sydney is extremely intelligent, bright and very well spoken. She has a continual need to learn and understand everything. We can talk for hours on any subject.” – Robin

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee? 

“The best part of having a mentor is knowing that there is someone I can talk to about my academic and professional pursuits at any time. Receiving feedback and advice from Robin is beneficial because she has so much real-world experience in business and law.” – Sydney

“The best part about having a mentee is having the ability to help and guide Sydney in the transition from being a student to having a position in her chosen field that will provide her with the most opportunity and growth. Another rewarding aspect is recognizing how much I, as a mentor, have learned from my mentee.” – Robin  

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“My best advice to other pairs in the Program is to get to know your mentor on both a professional and personal level. Some of my most interesting and productive conversations with Robin have stemmed from conversations about our personal interests and experiences.” – Sydney

“The best practice I would share is to have open communication and share opinions and ideas.  Also, mentors should try to include the mentee, when possible, in actual real-world situations within the mentor’s business.” – Robin

Have any of your Clifton Strengths contributed to the success of your mentoring relationship? If so, how?

“Two of my CliftonStrengths are Communication and Futuristic. I really enjoying talking to and meeting new people. This has made getting to know and building a relationship with my mentor easier. Additionally, my Futuristic strength has contributed to the success of my mentoring relationship because I continually seek ways to plan and reach my future goals. Robin has been a great resource to help me find ways to achieve these goals and has encouraged me to pursue new opportunities.” – Sydney

  

Story: Anthony Spadaccini ’22 VSB and Dan Temple ’96 VSB

Anthony is from Hamilton, N.J. and will graduate in May 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Marketing. Dan graduated from Villanova in 1996 with a degree in Management and a concentration in International Business. He currently works at JP Morgan Chase as the head of compensation for consumer and community banking.

Anthony Spadaccini ’22 VSB and Dan Temple ’96 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“I heard about the VSB Mentor Program from older students who were eager to share their own success stories in the program. Ultimately, I knew how valuable a mentor could be in helping me navigate the many challenges I would soon be facing.” – Anthony

“I was inspired to join the VSB Mentor Program because I do a lot of mentoring of junior professionals at work and really enjoy providing career coaching and advice. The chance to do something similar through the VSB Mentor Program was something that had tremendous appeal given my passion for mentoring.” – Dan

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has exceeded all expectations. It has been great building a relationship with Dan, and I truly count him as a friend. Our conversations are always engaging, and I feel comfortable asking him difficult questions because I know he is going to deliver terrific advice.” – Anthony

“My experience so far with Anthony has been fantastic. The world drastically changed after our first call in late February or early March of 2021; however, that has made the overall experience special as I have been able to give Anthony strong advice on how to best navigate the challenges and adjustments of networking, interviewing, and working remotely.” – Dan

What makes your relationship a successful one?  

“I believe our relationship is successful due to its friendly nature. Before we started discussing professional and career related topics, we got to know one another which formed a solid base for the relationship. There is a natural balance of our conversations between shared interests and professional topics. Nothing is ever forced, as I will update him accordingly and schedule a meeting only when I feel there is something important to discuss.”  – Anthony

“We have a lot of common interests and I think that helped us at the beginning to establish a strong relationship. Our conversations are always a mix of personal topics as well as true coaching and advice. I think we have a really good balance of both and that has made us very successful so far.” – Dan

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“The best part of having a mentor is being able to turn to someone who will support me and offer unbiased advice. Dan is someone with years of experience, and it is always a pleasure to listen and learn from him.” – Anthony

“First and foremost, getting to know Anthony has been a pleasure and I feel very lucky that we were paired together. For me, it has also been great to see how he has had to navigate everything over the last eighteen months, and I like that I have played a small part in helping him do that.” – Dan

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“I think every mentor-mentee relationship is going to be different but getting to know each other beyond career related questions has been extremely beneficial in my experience. This laid a foundation and built trust while making the relationship feel as natural as possible. Also, be honest and transparent with your mentor about your goals, as he or she is there to help and encourage you!” – Anthony

“What has worked really well for us is to not have formal check-ins or a schedule of when to meet. We have let the frequency of our meetings become more organic, allowing us to connect as needed versus having a set schedule. For Anthony and me, this means when we do connect live we definitely have something to focus on and talk about.” – Dan

Have any of your Clifton Strengths contributed to the success of your mentoring relationship? If so, how?

“My Clifton Strength of Relator has definitely contributed to the success of my mentoring relationship. Although it has been very easy to relate with Dan, I think I have done a nice job uncovering mutual interests and building our relationship to the comfort level it is today.” – Anthony

  

Story: Olivia McEntee ’19 VSB

Olivia is from North Caldwell, N.J. and graduated from Villanova in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in Accounting. Olivia works as a financial planning and analysis analyst at BlackRock supporting its systematic and fundamental equities business.

Olivia McEntee ’19 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“I joined the VSB Mentor Program as a mentee during my sophomore year because I liked the idea of getting professional development guidance from someone who had been in my shoes as a Villanova student. I enjoyed my experience with the program so much that when the opportunity came to become involved as a mentor, I jumped the chance. I am currently a mentor to Samantha Rathjen ’23 VSB. I have also recently joined the VSB Mentor Program Advisory Board and am excited to get more involved there.” – Olivia

How has your experience participating in the VSB Mentor Program compared to your expectation?

“My experience has far exceeded my expectations! Little did I know that five years ago when I signed up for this program with the hope of receiving interview advice, that I would become so involved now as a mentor and Advisory Board member.” – Olivia

How did your experience as a Villanova student learning about the value of mentorship motivate you to implement mentoring opportunities at your current company?

“Shortly upon starting my career at BlackRock, I realized that I was missing the mentoring aspect that was a constant in my Villanova experience. I was sure that if I was missing this guidance, others in my analyst class were as well. I surveyed other analysts, as well as former analysts who had since been promoted, and they confirmed my thoughts. I began to brainstorm how I could bring a program similar to the VSB Mentor Program to BlackRock Finance. I connected with Michele Gianforcaro’89 VSB for advice on how to get started. From there, I formed a team to help put together a pilot mentoring program that pairs first and second-year finance analysts with associate and vice president level mentors. The first round of matches went extremely well, and we received great feedback from participants. I also participated in the program and gained an amazing mentor. We are aiming to kick off our second round of pairings this fall where we will incorporate all of the feedback we received. I cannot credit the Villanova School of Business enough for instilling the value of mentorship within me and inspiring me to create a mentoring program at BlackRock.” – Olivia

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?  

“The best part about having a mentee is the idea of giving back. There were so many times throughout my college experience where I felt extremely thankful for the nuggets of advice my mentor provided me. I wanted to give someone else that same feeling. It feels great that I can use my short two and a half years of work experience to help my mentee Samantha with any professional development tips she needs. Outside of career related mentoring, it has been great to have developed a relationship with Samantha and help her navigate life at Villanova.” – Olivia

What do you believe are some best mentoring practices to share with others in the VSB Mentor Program?

“As mentor, try to put yourself in your mentee’s shoes and use personal experiences from your time at Villanova to guide your advice. Be conscious of the times when your mentee needs you to stop talking and start listening. While you listen, make sure to listen with compassion and grasp your mentee’s point of view. This will allow you to dig deeper and understand what your mentee wants to gain from your conversations. Offer encouragement to your mentee. Junior and senior year of college can come with some daunting tasks, especially when the summer internship or post-grad job searches come into play. Provide a safe space where your mentee can ask questions, share ideas and vent their frustrations. Encourage them to push through stressful times and cheer them on as they attempt to navigate them.” – Olivia

  

Story: Robby Hill ’21 VSB and George Broadbin ’10 VSB

Robby is from Greenwood Village, Colo., and will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and minors in Economics and Accounting. George serves as an investment partner for Alleghany Corporation. He graduated from Villanova in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance.

Robby Hill ’21 VSB and George Broadbin ’10 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I joined the VSB Mentor Program because having a mentor is a great way to connect on a deeper level with Villanova alumni working in a field I want to pursue. I saw the program as a fantastic opportunity to start building relationships early on and having a ‘life coach.’” – Robby

“I saw the many benefits of mentorship when I was a student and was excited to see some more structure put around the program. A good mentor can help you avoid a lot of mistakes, and I want to see and help others succeed. I also see the Mentor Program as an opportunity to force a Kaizen-style analysis your own career and sharing those learnings with others helps improve their chances of success.” – George

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has completely exceeded my expectations. I was fortunate enough to be paired with George, someone whose career path I want to follow, and it has been a terrific relationship. The highlight of our relationship was getting to meet in person in New York for coffee and catch up as if we had known each other for years.” – Robby

“The mentor program has been an excellent experience. The process is somewhat self-fulfilling – generally students who aren’t motivated to develop a mentor/mentee relationship won’t participate in the program and the same goes for mentors, so I was not surprised that it was a success.  Robby and I were both motivated to succeed in our respective roles, so it worked well.”  – George

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“The honesty and the flexibility of our relationship is what makes it so successful. I am comfortable asking George questions on a variety of topics, from interview preparation or where to live when I move to New York City. Another reason we have had a successful relationship is because we stay in touch often and keep our dialogue conversational.” – Robby

“The relationship was successful because Robby and I were able to establish trust early on in the relationship. Robby was very respectful of my time and was honest about his expectations. I was straightforward with what level of help I would be able to provide, and my expectations of him which laid the foundation for trust. After that, regular dialogue and sharing both successes and failures helped grow the relationship and build upon that foundation of trust.  It helped remove ego and bias from our process, which helped us both improve.  I look forward to watching the early days of Robby’s career and staying in touch.” – George

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee? 

“The best part of having a mentor is just having someone to talk to, to learn about their experiences, and listen to their advice. George has dealt with a lot of the questions I have right now and getting to hear his experience tackling those same issues has been a great benefit of this relationship.” – Robby

“Seeing my mentees set high goals for themselves and achieve them is the number one reward.  When Robby got his full time offer it felt just as good as the day when I got mine. An added bonus is when I can make a value-added recommendation to their process (like taking more liberal arts classes).”  – George 

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“I have two best practices to share. First, make sure that you are prepared and have done research on your mentor before your introductory call. Schedule enough time for the first call so you can set goals that you want to achieve with your mentor. I’d recommend an hour. Second, decide with your mentor how often you are going to meet. For some pairs, that could be every month, but for others, once a semester might suffice. Most importantly, what you get out of the mentoring is directly related to what you put into your relationship.” – Robby

“Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously, and treat every interaction as an opportunity to improve.”  – George

  

Story: Kyle Patel ’22 VSB and Erin Guadagno ’07 VSB

Kyle is from Mount Laurel, N.J., and will graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Business Analytics. Ms. Guadagno serves as the vice president of delivery & optimization for Barclays. She graduated from Villanova in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance.

Kyle Patel ’22 VSB and Erin Guadagno ’07 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I am very passionate about the sense of community within the Villanova network. As I continue to explore potential career paths, I wanted to engage an alum with whom I could connect over a long period of time, to get insightful advice related to my long-term career goals from someone who has experienced it. I knew the Mentor Program would allow me to form both a professional and personal connection with my mentor, which would ultimately allow my mentor to aid me in the best way possible.” – Kyle

“I was inspired to join because I know the true value of having a mentor. I didn’t have one while I was at ’Nova and definitely would have benefitted from it. I have been very lucky in my career to find formal and informal mentors to help me along my journey.” – Erin 

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I have had an even better experience than I anticipated. I am grateful to have gone through two internship recruiting cycles with Erin, for two very different roles. Due to Erin’s recognition and support of my long-term goals, I was able to learn about many different roles that align with my career interests. This ultimately opened my eyes to many different and previously unnoticed career paths available to me, and ones that Erin knew would be a good fit for me due to our continued connection.” – Kyle

“I try to approach mentor/mentee relationships without too many expectations, good or bad. Mentor relationships need to develop as naturally as possible to be successful. My experience with Kyle has been wonderful and has really turned into something special, despite all the challenges we faced in 2020.” – Erin

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Honesty and transparency about my interests and goals have made our mentor relationship successful. As I went through multiple recruiting cycles with Erin, my honesty allowed her to guide me in a direction that would allow me to continue to explore my interests, by recommending me to new roles and people to connect with along the way.” – Kyle

“Kyle and I have been successful because we have been able to develop an honest and open dialogue. We set regular meetings, but also allow for chats in between when we need to catch up. I try to make myself available by phone, email, and text so we can keep in touch. I also think I’ve helped encourage Kyle to open up his mind to explore all different types of career paths, leading him to land a coveted summer internship with Morgan Stanley after completing his Co-Op program at J&J during the summer and fall of 2020.”  – Erin

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee? 

“I am very grateful for the personal connection that Erin and I have made, especially during the COVID-19 and virtual environment. I feel very comfortable asking her questions and being open to new opportunities, which has made our relationship successful.” – Kyle

“I enjoy having a front-row seat while watching Kyle grow not only in his personal life but also in his career. It sparks real joy for me to know that I’ve been able to truly make a difference in someone’s life and help them to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.” – Erin  

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“I would recommend to all mentees to be open to new experiences and to stay in constant communication with your mentor. It can be hard to immediately see how this may be impactful, but it does make a difference once you find a role that fits you best. Additionally, it allows your mentor to realize things about your potential career path that you may not notice, a very valuable aspect of VSB’s Mentor Program.” – Kyle

“Throw all rules out the window of what a mentoring relationship “has” to be. Do what works best for you both and let the relationship develop naturally. Start with a conversation about what you’re both looking for in a mentor or mentee, so each person is on the same page. Then let the conversation just flow.” – Erin

  

Story: Han Chin '21 VSB and Rachel Steinman ’95 VSB

Han is from Orange County, Calif., and will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Business Analytics, and Finance. Rachel is the chief financial officer for a prominent single-family accounting office in Las Vegas, Nev. She graduated from Villanova in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Han Chin '21 VSB and Rachel Steinman ’95 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I highly value mentorship and I wanted to make connections with more Villanova alumni, making the VSB Mentor Program the best option for me. I wanted to have someone who would understand the position I am in and could help guide me with their experiences.” – Han

“I felt that my 25 years of varied experience across the accounting and financial fields could be helpful for students navigating the options available to them upon graduation.” – Rachel

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“Having Rachel as my mentor has surpassed my expectation of the program. Whatever question or concern I have, she has the perfect advice for me that has helped guide me in the right direction. For example, when I had to decide which Big 4 internships I would choose, Rachel helped me through that process by sharing her prior experiences at EY and explaining what I should look for in each firm.” – Han

“I had high expectations for this experience since I feel VSB cultivates a well-rounded and intelligent group of students. I feel the mentee I was matched with exemplifies that hardworking and ambitious student I was expecting to meet. He was more decisive about his career path than I had anticipated, so while he has been very capable of making short-term career decisions, I believe I have helped provide a long-term view, which is in line with my initial expectations.” – Rachel

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“I believe our relationship is successful because it isn’t one-sided. Although it is a mentor program, Rachel also shares about her life–especially her kids–and I try to help give any perspectives I have since I want to give back to her as she has helped me so much.” – Han

“Han and I touch base often and our conversations vary from a quick check-in to more substantive discussions about career paths and decision-making moments. I feel that keeping open lines of communication and understanding each other on a personal level helps when we have more complex topics to discuss.” – Rachel

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“Especially during 2020, it was nice having Rachel check in on me once a month to make sure everything was alright. It’s been reassuring to have someone check in especially if I had any questions in mind. I can rely on Rachel to give honest and unbiased opinions or even a new perspective.” – Han

“I have enjoyed learning how VSB has grown since I was a student. The new class options available and opportunities for students are amazing. It has been enlightening to learn how mature and capable the students have become. I hope it has been helpful for Han to have me as a resource and sounding board. He is an intelligent and thoughtful student who will be very successful. Since we are both on the West Coast, I hope to remain in contact with him as he navigates his career after graduation.” – Rachel

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“Initially Rachel and I would keep in touch every couple of weeks mainly because I was going through the application process of Spring Accounting Internship. After a few months, we dialed it back to once a month. Rachel also made time for me if I had an impromptu question. I would recommend talking with your mentor as much as you both can to build the relationship so when anything comes up, there’s a good mutual understanding of each other’s situation to help guide the conversations.” – Han

“I think it is very important to have a face-to-face meeting at least once. Given the recent COVID-19 restrictions, that might prove difficult, but I do feel it’s a great way to kick off the relationship and get to know each other.” – Rachel

  

Story: Patrick Haley ’21 VSB and Megan O’Leary ’16 VSB

Patrick is from Baltimore, Md., and will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Business Analytics, and Business Law. Megan is a senior analyst in co-brand product management at American Express. She graduated from Villanova in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and International Business.

Patrick Haley ’21 VSB and Megan O’Leary ’16 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“Michele Gianforcaro invited me to join the advisory board during my freshman year and some friends of mine had already been a part of the Mentor Program for two years. They had spoken at length about how rewarding it was and after hearing about their experiences, I could not wait to get started during my sophomore year. Since then, I’ve spent two years building a great relationship with Megan; she has been a fantastic mentor and I am excited to continue to work with her after graduation.” – Patrick

“I was a part of the mentor program when I was at VSB and could tell right away it was an amazing program to be involved in. So many people helped me when I was at VSB, while I was looking for a job, and when I graduated, and I wanted to give back in the same way. The network is full of amazing alumni and students, so I jumped at the opportunity to join as a mentor.” – Megan

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“If I were to use one word: exceeded! Going into a new professional relationship, I was pretty nervous since I did not know how to talk to a mentor or what to talk about. I had never had a mentor before, but I knew that I had career goals, and having a mentor to provide feedback was invaluable. Megan has gone above and beyond what I thought my mentor would be. Not only has she provided me with advice on resumes, cover letters, and interview tips, but we have also gotten to know each other as people. Megan helped me as a professional and made sure I had a fantastic experience at Villanova at the same time. She even gave me study abroad advice when I was preparing to go to London for a semester!” – Patrick

“So much better than expected! I knew I would get paired with an amazing student, but Patrick and I hit it off right away. With differing schedules, it can be difficult to connect at times, but we’ve always managed to make time to regroup, even meeting in NYC when Patrick came back from London. I was so impressed by how mature and eager Patrick was to learn and be a part of this program. He’s gone above and beyond to make our relationship a success.” – Megan

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“I think the biggest thing that makes our relationship successful is our openness and communication. From the get-go, Megan and I started building trust to ask the important questions regarding my professional development. Megan has been honest and authentic from the start, which has helped me feel comfortable asking tough questions. Over the past two years, I have been able to learn from Megan’s professional experiences as well as her personal experiences. At the same time, I have gotten to know her not only as a professional mentor but also as a friend and someone who’s in my corner as I navigate my career.” – Patrick

“We’ve made the time to connect, either in person, via email or at networking events (when possible!) and put the time in necessary to build a connection. I think we’ve also been candid in our discussions to build trust, so hopefully, Patrick can come to me and ask the hard questions he may not feel comfortable asking others.” – Megan

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“There are things that you can’t ask your boss in the workplace. Having someone like Megan who is there to answer those tough questions and help navigate the job offer process or the transition to and from my study abroad experience has been invaluable to my personal and professional development.” – Patrick

“The ongoing connection and tie to VSB. It’s been so exciting to watch Patrick go through these final years at Villanova and hear about his successes (academic and otherwise). I can’t wait to see where he lands and hopefully be able to help with that. I know now that we have this network, we’ll be connected even when his time at VSB is up.” – Megan

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“My best advice is to communicate with each other. Not reaching out to your mentor to develop that relationship does not help either party, and the information and experience you’ll gain from such a relationship are too valuable to miss. I honestly think I would be in a different position professionally without Megan’s advice and guidance. Also, be yourself and be honest with what you’re looking to get out of this program. It is important to set expectations and goals early on so each of you can get the most out of the relationship. Allowing yourself to be honest with what you are looking for and working with your mentor to get there can build trust, and most importantly, a lifelong mentoring relationship!” – Patrick

“Always make time to touch base! Given everything that was going on in the world, our standard chats fell off, but once we reconnected and got meetings back on the schedule it was easy to fall back into a routine. It’s so important to make the relationship a priority even when things get lost in the shuffle.” – Megan

  

Story: Katie Sideratos ’21 VSB and Amy Pellicane ’03 CLAS

Katie is from Manhasset, N.Y., and will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Business Analytics. Amy is the executive director of consumer engagement marketing at Clinique. She graduated from Villanova in 2003 with a degree in Communications.

Katie Sideratos ’21 VSB and Amy Pellicane ’03 CLAS

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I decided to join the VSB Mentor Program to learn about the career possibilities within marketing and form a connection with someone who could help me navigate that exciting and evolving field. At the time, I knew I was interested in the beauty industry, so I hoped to be matched with a mentor who had experience in that area.” – Katie

“I have been very fortunate to have had many Villanova alumni help guide me throughout my life, and they have always stressed the importance of service to the undergrad community. Working in marketing—specifically in beauty— I am also always looking to hear directly from young consumers about their perceptions of our brand and reactions to our marketing initiatives.” –Amy

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience in the Mentor Program has truly exceeded my expectations. When I read about Amy’s experiences and current role at Clinique, I knew she was the perfect match for me and was very excited to learn about her career. Amy and I discovered we had many similarities during our first conversation, including a strong passion for the beauty industry. We were able to connect quickly and maintain a meaningful relationship throughout these past few years.” –Katie

“This program is exceptionally managed and executed, making it an easy fit into my professional life. I am consistently impressed with the level of resources provided to the teams and the overall structure of the program. My relationship with Katie has also not made it seem like incremental work; it’s a delight having her in my life.” – Amy

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Amy has been an incredibly approachable and kind mentor who has supported me in my professional development as I completed internships and am now searching for full-time opportunities. We have been able to meet in person in New York City and at Villanova, talk on the phone, and even text each other. These opportunities to connect have made me feel supported as I work to discover what my path will be after graduation.” – Katie

“Katie and I are a great fit! We share many commonalities, including a passion for beauty products. She is incredibly mature and made herself a valuable addition to my marketing team at Clinique this past summer. She and I talk or text often and have made a concerted effort to stay in touch. I believe our personalities are a wonderful match and I hope we will stay a part of each other’s lives for many years to come.” – Amy

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“The best part about having a mentor has been having someone to learn from and lean on throughout my time at Villanova. Because Amy has been my mentor since my sophomore year, we have gotten the chance to connect many times and her guidance has made me feel much more prepared to begin my career. I know I will continue to lean on her support even after leaving Villanova as I work to build my own career as successfully as she has.” – Katie

“The best part of having a mentee is watching all Katie has accomplished in the last few years with pride, including a prestigious CoOp at J&J. I was so impressed by how she was able to navigate a class schedule and a full-time job; all while adjusting to working from home in a global pandemic. I also loved having Katie join my marketing team last summer; her help to our consumer marketing efforts was so appreciated and my team adored her professional demeanor and willingness to pitch in and help however possible.” – Amy

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“Stay connected with your mentor, as your schedules allow, so the relationship can continue to strengthen as time goes on! Having a one-on-one mentor is a fantastic opportunity to further your professional and personal development in an individualized way during your time in VSB, so make time to talk on the phone, send an update or questions through text/email, or meet in person if possible.” – Katie

“I’d suggest to other pairs that the mentors should open their own network to the mentees as a way to broaden their horizons. It is a wonderful way to meet other Villanova alumni in other areas of business. Mostly, I would suggest really taking the time to get to know one another and incorporating this young person into your life, regardless of the professional opportunities.” – Amy

  

Story: Mary Kaitlin Enright ’21 VSB and Brett Snyder ’09 CLAS

Mary Kaitlin is from Glenview, Ill., and will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Brett is the Founder and CEO of Knucklepuck. He graduated from Villanova in 2009 with a degree in Communications and minors in Business and Spanish.

Mary Kaitlin Enright ’21 VSB and Brett Snyder ’09 CLAS

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“When I was a sophomore, I heard about the VSB Mentor Program through the pipeline of information that VSB shares with students. I attended a panel to learn more, and upon hearing upperclassmen speak about their experiences building relationships with their mentors, I could not help but be excited by the opportunity. Everyone had such good things to say about their mentors and the wonderful relationships they had built. Now, after having the same experience with Brett, I understand why they said that!” – Mary Kaitlin

“I never had a mentor, despite the fact that every business book on the planet recommends having one. I always pined for someone to be invested in my success and challenge me to improve. I wanted someone to give it to me straight but also tell me how to use my skills. I may not have found that person when I was in college, but when the opportunity arose to serve that role for someone else, I was thrilled to participate.” – Brett

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“In a single word: exceeded! I expected a lot of things from the mentorship experience, most specifically relating to guidance and support through my academic and career journey. However, my mentorship experience with Brett has been more than one just based on that guidance and support; in addition, I’ve gotten to know Brett as a person, and as someone with whom I can  bounce around ideas, explore the difficulties of work-life balance, and share all the peaks, and valleys of life.” – Mary Kaitlin

“I continue to be thoroughly impressed by the program itself and especially by Mary Kaitlin’s commitment to making it work for her. What exceeded my expectations most of all was Mary Kaitlin’s maturity and self-awareness. A relationship is successful when both people come together with mutually aligned goals and I am inspired by someone who takes control of her circumstances and works to put herself in a position to be successful.” – Brett

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“What makes my mentorship with Brett successful is our openness with one another. From the onset, Brett showed his authentic and honest personality whenever he interacted with me, and I have since come to recognize that is how he conducts all of his relationships, whether professional or personal. As a result, I was able to learn not only from Brett’s professional guidance, but also his personal guidance, and get to know him as both a professional mentor and a friend. Because I feel as though I know Brett in that context, I have been able to appreciate him as a role model in various aspects of life.” – Mary Kaitlin

“Mary Kaitlin came to the table with goals for her career, priorities for professional development, and a willingness to confront realities of post-college life. This enabled a stronger connection because I felt I could relate more directly to her as a person. I became invested in wanting to see her succeed because I saw how hard she was working to pursue a career with a purpose. I am proud to see her make decisions and press forward, adapting as necessary but owning the responsibility of her own success. Her work ethic inspires me and I carry that energy into my personal and professional life.” – Brett

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“I have someone I can count on to ask the questions, or just chat with about the things that you can’t really ask your boss. When I’m not sure how to approach sending a difficult email, how to decide between two companies, or how to navigate work-life balance issues, amongst so many other things, Brett is there for me. As I said, he is not just a mentor, but also a friend who supports me both professionally and personally.” – Mary Kaitlin

“I have a new friend! In a world that is becoming increasingly compartmentalized into specific roles, I value the perspective of someone in a different stage of life. It helps me be a more empathetic father and CEO by staying connected to people facing different circumstances. I am grateful to have met someone who I can also bounce ideas off and know I’m going to get an honest reaction. I encourage all mentors to approach the program by also having things you want to gain from the experience. The students like Mary Kaitlin who are taking the initiative to participate in this program are our future. We have a lot we can learn from each other.” – Brett

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“To anyone else already in, or just beginning, a mentorship experience through the VSB Mentor Program, my “best practice” advice is to be your authentic self with your mentor. It's easy to be intimidated by the success and confidence of VSB alumni, but at the end of the day, they know a thing or two about what it’s like to be in your shoes because they once were! So, don’t be afraid to share the questions you’re nervous about asking, your side passions and hobbies, or the stresses of academic and young professional life from YOUR unique lens. Being upfront about who you are and what you’re looking to gain from this experience, while also remaining true to your personality breaks down the barrier of that intimidation and allows you to get to know your mentor (and yourself) so much better. All the rest falls into place from there, trust me!” – Mary Kaitlin

“Video chat. Phone calls are impersonal and emotionally distant. Especially early on when you are trying to establish that trust, make sure you can give the person your full attention. You have to look at each other in the eye and believe the relationship will enrich your lives.” – Brett

  

Story: Olivia Ashley ’21 VSB and Kristen Hogan '08 VSB

Olivia is from Wyckoff, NJ, and will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Italian.  Kristen Hogan is the founder and CEO of REX Digital Collective. She graduated from Villanova in 2008 with degrees in Marketing and International Business, and a minor in Spanish.

Olivia Ashley ’21 VSB and Kristen Hogan '08 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I wanted to join the VSB Mentor Program because I was interested in learning more about the experiences of VSB’s alumni. I was hoping to be matched with a mentor who would help me navigate the start of my career path. I had declared a Marketing major but was seeking advice on how to better discover the type of internship I wanted for Summer 2020. I figured support from a VSB Mentor would be very useful.” – Olivia

“I wanted to help current students excel as they entered the working world by sharing my unique experience in large conglomerates and startups alike. I am very proud of my career to date, and that is due in large part to my experience at VSB. It was a thrill to bring it full circle and share my point of view and network with a young marketer whose exact shoes I was in 12 years ago. I also thought there was value in sharing the experience of graduating into a financial crisis in 2008 and coming out stronger on the other side. Of course, I also wanted to stay connected to my Villanova roots, and there is no better way to do that than mentoring the next generation of Wildcats.” – Kristen

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience working with Kristen has certainly exceeded my expectations. During the matching process, I requested a mentor with experience in either the beauty or fashion industry. After learning about Kristen’s career working for Coty Inc. and Supergoop!, I was very excited to work with her and learn more about her career path. I was so pleasantly surprised with how relatable Kristen was, especially because we both double majored in Marketing and a foreign language at Villanova. I did not anticipate how well my mentor would be able help give me advice based on her own personal experiences.” – Olivia

“The experience has exceeded my expectations 100%. In addition to sharing advice and experience, I was thrilled to be able to connect Olivia to key people in my network to allow for a diverse point of view when necessary. It was also a pleasure to meet Olivia in person for breakfast near campus (pre-COVID19), obtain a clearer understanding of her goals for our mentorship and brainstorm all the ways I could help. I think every mentor-mentee pair could benefit from this sort of “Mentorship Planning Session,” even if it’s via Zoom!” – Kristen

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Our relationship is successful because  Kristen has been so approachable. We have been able to chat on the phone, meet up at First Watch, and we even text each other. Kristen has always encouraged me to reach out to her if I have any questions, concerns, or ideas as I have navigated finding an internship and a job. Having so many ways to be connected and communicate has helped me to feel comfortable and supported by my mentor throughout this process.” – Olivia

“Our successful relationship is due to both of us taking our roles seriously. Olivia is a dream mentee in that she is incredibly astute, curious, and responsive and makes being her mentor a pleasure. I also think keeping communication channels causal is very effective. I often encourage Olivia to text me whenever a question pops into her head. With her busy school schedule and me running my own consultancy, time for both of us is precious. It’s important to keep in mind that a mentor-mentee interaction does not have to be formal and long-form like a phone call or Zoom – sometimes a quick text conversation is all it takes to add value.” – Kristen

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“The best part about having a mentor is being able to learn about all of Kristen’s experiences working in different industries and for different companies. It has been so valuable to hear about her marketing positions at companies in the beauty industry as well as her journey starting her own company, REX Digital Collective. Hearing Kristen’s success story that began with her graduation from Villanova has been very inspirational as I prepare to graduate in the spring.” – Olivia

“I have loved being a part of Olivia’s journey to finding her internship and her first full-time role post-graduation. She is a very talented young marketer and would be an asset to any organization, and it has been wonderful helping her craft her story to ensure it shines through at all touchpoints with potential employers.” – Kristen

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“Keep in touch! It is easy to become distracted by school work, working, a social life and other responsibilities, but it is so important to stay in touch with your mentor throughout the school year and the summer. Even if your schedules are busy, it is so beneficial to schedule periodic meetings with your mentor to continue to work on personal and professional development. I am so grateful for Kristen’s encouragement and support as I continue to job search and develop my professional skills.” – Olivia

“I would encourage other pairs in the program not to get overwhelmed with the incremental time commitment of a mentorship. It’s important to establish a communication flow that works for both parties, and to take advantage of all the technology we have at our fingertips. A call or meeting every so often is certainly important, however keeping in touch via text or email is equally valuable to nurturing a long-lasting mentorship.

Lastly, I believe it is pivotal for mentors to ensure their mentees understand that no question is too trivial. I would encourage mentees to ask every question that comes to mind and to leave no stone unturned when it comes to professional development. The more questions you ask, the better positioned you will be to stand out to a hiring manager.” – Kristen

 

  

Story: Marissa Rawlings '18 VSB and Rick Cocivera '97 VSB

Marissa Rawlings, from Northborough, Mass., is an analyst in investment operations at Fidelity Investments. She graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Rick Cocivera is the vice president of adviser oversight at Fidelity Investments. He graduated from Villanova in 1997 with a BBA in Finance. They were matched as a VSB Mentor Program pair when Rawlings was a sophomore.

Marissa Rawlings '18 VSB and Rick Cocivera '97 VSB

How has your relationship evolved now that you are both Villanova alumni in the workforce?  

“We were able to establish strong rapport quickly, so our relationship has not changed too drastically. As a student, I was definitely more focused on immediate, short-term goals, and we spent many of our meetings talking through my major and minor choices, and how to best position myself for career fairs, internships and interviews. Upon graduation and entering the workforce, we now interact more as colleagues. While I still look to Rick for advice, we discuss more long-term career aspirations.” - Marissa

“My relationship with Marissa is very similar to the engagements I have with other colleagues in my network. The biggest difference is the common bond that we share through Villanova. At our organization there is a relatively small network of alumni and it is rewarding to have such a tangible connection back to a very meaningful period of my life. Since we were introduced through the Mentor Program, I have more of an interest in Marissa’s career development at our firm.” - Rick

How did you decide to continue your mentoring relationship beyond Marissa’s graduation?

“During the job application process in my senior year, I turned to Rick for advice on interviews as well as in making my final decisions. When I spoke with him right before I accepted a role, we discussed staying in touch going forward. Even though I was accepting a position at a different company, given the strong connection we had developed over the years in the Mentor Program and as an intern at Fidelity, I knew I wanted to stay in touch. I valued this mentoring relationship, so I made an effort to stay connected. The continuation of our mentoring relationship ultimately led me to return to Fidelity this year.” - Marissa

“I always stress the importance of networking in my mentor engagements. While interning at our organization during the summer of 2017, Marissa was very deliberate about making connections and building her network. Certainly, our direct interactions throughout the internship strengthened our relationship but I credit Marissa with proactively maintaining communication with me and others in our organization post-graduation. These connections ultimately lead to her current job.” - Rick

What has made your relationship so successful over the years?

“From the beginning Rick was great and made it clear that I should take the lead on the cadence of our mentoring relationship, and that he would be available for whatever I needed. Having that ownership established early on made it easier for me to really make the most of the relationship. Being able to meet in person at the Fidelity office in Boston when I was home on school breaks also greatly enhanced our relationship.” - Marissa

“The VSB Mentor Program did an excellent job with matching us in 2016. Our common interests have allowed for a very natural engagement that has evolved organically overtime. Also, working directly with Marissa during her internship significantly strengthened our relationship.  Most importantly, Marissa’s initiative has been essential to the long-term success of our relationship and has been the driving force behind our engagement.” - Rick    

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“Having an objective, third-party advisor who is genuinely invested in my career has been invaluable! I truly value our mentoring relationship because it keeps me connected to Villanova, even though I have graduated.” - Marissa

“I am continually impressed by the insights and perspectives that I receive through mentoring. These coaching experiences provide a unique opportunity to self-reflect on what has worked well and what can be improved in my own career. It is also fulfilling to watch the growth and successes of people I mentor.” - Rick   

Any tips for other pairs in the program?

“Find common ground and build rapport quickly! It makes conversations flow much more easily when you have something to talk about other than career questions. Also, make sure to be open and honest. My most successful mentoring relationships have all occurred when I was able to speak openly about my goals, concerns and questions. Lastly, don’t be intimated by reaching out to your mentor. They signed up to help Villanovans succeed, and would not have volunteered if they did not have the time or desire to do so.” - Marissa

“Take time to get know each other and make a personal connection (a shared alma mater is an easy starting point).  Take initiative to schedule meetings and come prepared with relevant topics to discuss.  Keep your mentor informed; it’s rewarding for the mentor to hear updates on previously discussed items.” - Rick

  

Story: Laura Furtek ’20 VSB and Haley LeDonne ’15 VSB

Laura is from Audubon, Pa., and graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. Haley is an International Tax Senior Associate at Alvarez and Marsal Tax. She graduated from Villanova in 2015 with a degree in Accounting and Finance.

Laura Furtek ’20 VSB and Haley LeDonne ’15 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I joined the Mentor Program to expand my network and gain an outside perspective on how to navigate my academic and professional career.” – Laura

“One of the best parts of a Villanova education and the VSB experience is the incredible network it provides. I became a mentor to be a part of that in a more impactful way.” – Haley

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has definitely exceeded my expectations especially with regard to Haley’s willingness to use her own network and experiences to help me navigate internships, job offers, and even my personal life. By extending our relationship beyond just career advice, we’ve grown closer than I ever expected prior to joining the program.” – Laura

“The experience has been above and beyond my expectations. It was an honor to be chosen by Laura to be her mentor. She is an incredibly hard-working student who has enormous career potential. It has been great assisting her in navigating internships and full-time offers, and I’m continually impressed by her drive and organizational skills.” – Haley

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“I think our mentoring relationship is successful because of Haley’s willingness to share both the positives and negatives of her career including her time at Villanova. She has allowed me to recognize the not-so-glamorous sides of public accounting while also sharing the exciting aspects.” – Laura

“Laura and I had very similar VSB experiences and paths because we had the same majors. as well as similar career goals in tax. I’ve learned a lot over the past five years that I would have liked to have known as an undergrad. By going through that so recently, I’m able to offer helpful perspectives to Laura as she navigates the undergrad to post-grad transition.” – Haley

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“I’ve learned a lot from Haley through the advice that she has given me, but also I have learned how to be a good mentor to others in the future. Our relationship has shown me the power of mentoring, which I hope to keep with me throughout my career.” – Laura

“Having a mentor outside of your own organization or company is extremely helpful to bounce ideas off of and ensure that advice is always given with the mentee’s best interest in mind. I hope that I serve that role for Laura and am very fortunate to get to learn from her in much the same way.” – Haley

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“By keeping Haley in the loop about academic, professional, and personal updates, I have found that it is much easier to pick up our conversations where we left off rather than fill each other in on an entire month’s worth of updates. Not all conversations have to be formal, sometimes just a text update is all you need!” – Laura

“Laura and I met periodically in the city either through VSB events or for coffee during her internship. Otherwise, we communicate by email, texting and calls. It’s very important to have regular touchpoints to just stay up to date on course work, CPA plans, and make sure I’m available to provide help any way I can!” – Haley

  

Story: Michael Gillen '20 VSB and John Finneran '06 VSB

Michael Gillen is from Washington Township, NJ, and graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting. John Finneran is the Vice President and iShares Leader at BlackRock. He graduated from Villanova in 2006 with a degree in Marketing and Management.

Michael Gillen '20 VSB and John Finneran '06 VSB

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I had heard the success stories of upperclassmen and wanted to try to make a great connection with a mentor of my own. I was a sophomore looking for any and all opportunities to land internships and jobs to expand my experience in the finance world.” – Michael

“I’ve had some great mentors in my life and when presented with the opportunity, I wanted to give back. Plus, I wish they had something like this when I was in the business school, so it felt foolish to not participate and help.” – John

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has far surpassed my expectations. It has been everything I looked for and more from the very beginning.” – Michael

“It has far exceeded my expectations. First off, I’m very impressed with the level of student that is coming through Villanova right now. After my first conversation with Michael, I knew he was someone I wanted to invest my time in. To say it’s been a successful partnership is an understatement.” – John

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“John is an approachable mentor who truly looked to build a relationship with me from the beginning. His genuine willingness to help is the foundation which created our successful relationship, and we sustained it with openness and communication. Over many calls, John and I were able to determine the questions and true interests I had which allowed him to use his experience and knowledge in directing me and connecting me with others who could help me. Specifically, John connected me with a classmate of his who works in the wealth management industry, which was an area I had an interest in. After speaking to John’s classmate, I was able to work as a part-time intern in his office during the fall semester of my junior year. This experience provided me with an understanding of the industry and with skills that I used in my next internship.” – Michael

“Open lines of communication. I have a busy job and young family, so it’s not easy for me to always set specific times to chat. We have each other’s cell numbers and text/call whenever we need something. Michael always comes to me with well-thought-out questions that we can have an open dialogue about. He’s not afraid to ask questions and accept feedback. I’ve found myself bouncing as many questions off him as he does of me; it has become a great two-way relationship.” – John

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“The best part about having a mentor is having the support of someone – who has been in my shoes – available to answer my questions and give me advice throughout my time at VSB. Without John’s input, I would not have known where to begin learning about different finance industries without John’s advice.” – Michael

“It’s great to still have a connection to campus; being able to text him after the basketball team won the National Championship in 2018 and ask how the campus was reacting was really cool. Most importantly, it’s just being able to give back and help someone. When we started, Michael had a very defined path for his future, and it’s been a lot of fun to be part of that. Now I see that he’s realizing every single goal he set out for himself when we first started, and it’s been such a joy to be part of.” – John

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“My best practice is to be very open and communicative. If both mentor and mentee are willing to ask questions and try new things, the relationship will blossom and, in the end, be very helpful to the mentee in their search for the right career.” – Michael

“Leverage your Villanova network outside of the mentor/mentee relationship. One of my closest friends, and fellow alumnus, is in the line of business that Michael wanted to get into, so I set them up for a conference call. Michael built a relationship with him and Michael got a great internship from this fellow Villanova alum (shout out to Lou Spinelli!). He was able to learn a lot of real-world job skills that he could carry forward. It also helped him confirm the career path he wanted to take and ultimately helped him land a phenomenal job upon graduation.” – John 

  

Story: Jenny Su '21 CLAS and Tony Holland '09 MBA

Jenny Su will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Tony Holland is the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Solutions Consulting for Synactive, Inc. He graduated from Villanova in 2009 with an Executive MBA in Business Leadership.

Jenny Su '21 CLAS and Tony Holland '09 MBA

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I consider mentorship to be one of the best kind of relationships a person can ask for. It’s a relationship about mutual learning, sharing, caring and nurturing. I had always wanted to learn from alumni and hear their professional and personal journeys. Hearing the perspectives of people who have been in my shoes helps me navigate major decisions, choose career directions and more.” – Jenny

“Coaching was an integrated and transformational part of my Villanova EMBA experience. I was so grateful for that experience and it inspired me to continue my ongoing education in ontological coaching after my graduation. Now I can give back to others the same kind of mentoring that has been invested in me.” – Tony

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“The experience has very much exceeded my expectations. Tony not only supports my professional development but also helps me grow as a person. He has always encouraged me to be more self-aware and balanced, to see the world from the lens of love and positivity, through all of our conversations, as well as practices, videos, and books he recommends.” – Jenny

“The mentoring experience at Villanova has exceeded my expectations. The mentor/mentee matching process has generated amazing relationships.” – Tony

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Mutual commitment to the relationship is very important. Tony and I both value this relationship, putting in both time and effort. We share some common visions of life, missions and interests, which has helped us grow close. I also appreciate the fact that Tony cares about coaching and helping others, and he is very talented at it.” – Jenny

“Curiosity, honesty, openness, transparency and an eagerness to engage in a process of lifelong learning and mindfulness, are key ingredients for making a successful mentoring relationship.” – Tony

What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?

“The best part is to have another person who is both your friend and teacher, who listens to your thoughts and concerns, guides you through the uncertainties of life, and helps you become a better version of yourself.” – Jenny

“The ongoing personal rewards of helping another person become the best version of themselves that they can possibly be has been the best part of having a mentor/mentee relationship.” – Tony 

Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the program?

“I would recommend thinking of the mentorship not just through a professional lens, but also through a personal lens to develop personal growth. You will be surprised how much more fruitful the relationship might be!” – Jenny

“It has been extremely helpful to work together to develop mutually agreed upon and measurable goals and objectives for the mentoring relationship. My best practice has been working with my mentee at the very beginning of our relationship to define and develop a personal balanced scorecard for our mentoring conversations. I have also found it to be effective and rewarding to apply the same ontological coaching methodology for mentoring that was taught and applied during my EMBA experience. Meeting for occasional face-to-face meetings, supplemented with regular virtual conversations, has been another best practice that helps create and capture value for the mentoring relationship.” – Tony 

  

Story: Chidinma “Chichi” Chioke '21 VSB and Andy Walker '99 VSB

Chidinma “Chichi” Chioke will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a co-major in Business Analytics. Andy Walker works as Cloud Sales Executive, SAP Sales Executive, and SAP Consulting Manager at Deloitte. He graduated from Villanova in 1999 with a B.S. in Finance.

Chidinma “Chichi” Chioke '21 VSB and Andy Walker '99 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“I decided to join the VSB Mentor Program because I wanted the opportunity to build relationships with VSB alumni. For college students, there’s immeasurable value in hearing the experiences and lessons learned from people who were in your exact situation. It’s so helpful to learn that your struggles are common and are not unique to you. It builds your confidence and makes you believe that you can also be successful.” – Chichi

“I am a VSB alumni, and I married my wife, a graduate of Villanova Nursing, at St. Thomas of Villanova Church. I’ve been active in maintaining connections with Villanova through my current employer via recruiting and saw the VSB Mentor Program as an excellent opportunity to give back. I’m also a big believer in mentoring and have benefited from mentee and mentor relationships over my career.” – Andy

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how willing Andy is to make himself available to me and provide the support and counsel that I need academically, professionally and otherwise. It feels like I’ve made a new friend who happens to be older, really smart and gives great advice.” – Chichi

“I think the program has been great so far and I’ve appreciated getting to know Chichi. She has  wonderful drive and focus on what she wants to do post-graduation and is open to feedback on areas of improvement. Chichi is easy to work with and I’ve enjoyed seeing her progress since we started the program in the spring.” – Andy

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“I think our relationship has been a successful one because we move at our own pace. In every relationship, it’s always necessary to find a way to add value to each party involved in that relationship, and in every relationship that ‘value’ looks different. It’s important to be cognizant of that.” – Andy

“I didn’t need much help figuring out internships or classes to take. I figured all that out very early on in my college career. From a mentor, I was looking for someone with a listening ear— someone I could share my struggles and fears with. With unfaltering commitment, Andy has been that for me.” – Chichi

“I wholeheartedly agree with Chichi. There’s no cookie cutter approach to a mentorship relationship. The key is to listen and learn from each other so that both can focus on where the impact matters most. Chichi’s been highly focused on her post-graduation plans and so our relationship has revolved more around me listening and serving as a sounding board/guide for her plans and progress.” – Andy

4. What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“It’s so comforting to know that you have someone you can go to if you need help with anything. It makes you feel like you aren’t alone in your journey. For me, that’s been my favorite part about having a mentor.” – Chichi

“It’s been refreshing gaining more insight into the focus and drive of a current VSB student. Chichi seems exceptional and as an employer who often hires VSB graduates and a father of two teenagers, I really appreciate gaining insights into what differentiates today’s VSB students and I have Chichi to thank for that.” – Andy 

5. Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“I think it is important to make the mentor/mentee relationship your own. The relationship should reflect the personalities of the two people involved. It needs to be authentic for an organic connection to form.” – Chichi 

“You have to be honest with each other in setting clear goals and defining what you’re looking to get out of the relationship and then follow through accordingly. I also think it’s important to have periodic in-person meetings to foster a tight relationship to avoid an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. Chichi and I have tried to blend our interaction with in-person lunches with correspondence over e-mail and social media, which helped foster a great new friendship.” – Andy

  

Story: Becca Gleeson '20 VSB and Terrie Stickel '92 MBA

Becca Gleeson graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems, Marketing, and Business Analytics. Terrie Stickel received her MBA from Villanova in 1992 with an emphasis on marketing and formerly served as a Senior Director at SAP.

Becca Gleeson '20 VSB and Terrie Stickel '92 MBA

1. What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“I was inspired to join the VSB Mentor Program because I saw the importance of making meaningful connections to professionals who could help guide me. When I joined, I wasn’t sure exactly what type of career I wanted to pursue, and I knew this would be a great opportunity to have someone help me on this journey.” – Becca

“I joined the VSB Mentor Program because I wanted to help Villanova students understand how to navigate the career journey and where to focus to be successful. Over the last few years, I’ve mentored two students and I’m happy to know that both are starting their careers with excellent job opportunities. My inspiration was to give back as I have had a number of mentors and managers in my life that helped me in my career progression.” – Terrie

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has been better than I expected. Terrie has been so hands-on, always reaching out to see how I am doing and asking to meet up. She has mentored me not only through career advice but also personal advice in my life, and I know she is invested in my success as a whole person. It is very reassuring to know that I have someone who is looking out for me and wants the best for my future.” – Becca

“My overall experience exceeded my expectations.  Becca and I meet regularly and take a step-by-step approach to determine the best direction.  Last summer, she took an internship at SAP and it gave her a great base for starting to make decisions about next steps.  We had great discussions on life and stages, what to expect and where the decision points will be.  I am very impressed with Becca’s knowledge and know she is positioned to succeed.” – Terrie

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“I think our relationship is so successful because it goes beyond just career advice. Terrie has given me advice on how to succeed in my life post-grad, apart from career decisions. She has been very influential in helping me plan long-term, which has allowed me to put all of my decisions in perspective.” – Becca

“I feel a successful mentor-mentee relationship is one where there is information sharing and a good back and forth. I was fortunate to have some mentors along the way that helped me and feel it’s time to “give back” to help others. A successful relationship is always a give-and-take and it requires staying in touch regularly. It also calls for a great listener.” – Terrie 

4. What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“The best part about having a mentor is that I have a connection to the possibilities for my future in the real world. I am able to learn now from Terrie’s experiences, which is very valuable information to have as I go through my own career.” – Becca

“For me, I’ve enjoyed watching Becca’s growth and achievement over the last few years.  Each step along the way, I saw her grow both personally and professionally.  I feel invested in her long-term success and can’t wait to see what she will achieve.  That alone was worth the time investment!” – Terrie

5. Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“My best practice recommendation is to always stay in contact. Terrie and I meet up frequently, even when there’s not necessarily something specific that we need to discuss. This has made our relationship stronger because when something comes up where I need to make a decision, she is already up-to-date on what’s happening in my life.” – Becca

“Recommendations for best practices include making an initial plan with the mentee, having regular meetings to discuss progress and challenging each other (the conversations taught me a few things) to come up with the best end result. Becca has been an amazing mentee with whom I hope to have a lifetime connection and friendship.” – Terrie

  

Story: Catherine Fudal '21 VSB and Tom Rajtik '88 MBA

Catherine Fudal will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) and a co-major in Business Law. Tom Rajtik works as an independent management consultant. He graduated from Villanova in 1988 with his MBA.

Catherine Fudal '21 VSB and Tom Rajtik '88 MBA

1. What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“I joined the VSB Mentor Program because I knew I wanted a role model within my field who could guide me in figuring out where I could excel in the vast field of MIS.” – Catherine

“My goal for becoming a VSB mentor was to help students prepare for their careers by sharing my experiences and leveraging my personal network.” – Tom

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I knew that when I met Tom, he would be someone who was present and engaged in my future. I could tell he wanted me to find a field and eventually a company where I would not just survive but thrive.” – Catherine

“Participating in the VSB Mentor Program has been fantastic. I’ve always had a strong interest in developing people – so meeting, understanding one’s goals, and helping them achieve them is very rewarding.” – Tom

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“Tom and I have an open path of communication and emphasize meeting in person so that we can better understand one another. I think this understanding has helped Tom guide me and has helped me learn from him.” – Catherine

“I would have to say two-way communication is critical. As a mentor, it’s really important to listen before jumping in with guidance and suggestions. A wise former leader once told me, “Listen, learn and lead … and don’t mess up the order!” Once you’ve built a relationship, it’s a lot easier to challenge and advise.” – Tom

4. What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“The best part of the VSB Mentor Program has been having someone who can help me and someone who I can look up to.” – Catherine

“The best part of mentoring is the ability to share your knowledge, insights and experiences in a way that helps students formulate their own career plans. It’s a great way to pay it forward. It’s also a valuable part of Villanova’s culture that: ‘Villanovans help Villanovans!’” – Tom

5. Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“If possible, meet in person as often as you can so you can truly form a relationship with your mentor. Be open and honest about what you want from the program and always have an open channel of communication.” – Catherine

“Meet regularly and in person if possible. It really helps to have a little structure on what you want to discuss in each meeting and try to leave with a list of follow-up items to keep moving forward on your mentoring goals.” – Tom

  

Story: Nicolle Hughes '20 VSB and Bill Kelly '72 VSB

Nicolle Hughes graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a co-major in Finance. Bill Kelly is the President of Kelly Associates Retail Consulting. He graduated from Villanova in 1972 with a BS in Business Administration.

Nicolle Hughes '20 VSB and Bill Kelly '72 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“I joined the mentor program because of the valuable opportunity to network with a mentor in my field of interest. It is a wonderful resource to students seeking internship advice, mock interviews and particular industry insight.” – Nicolle

“I joined the VSB Mentor Program to give back and hopefully assist a Villanova student in navigating the various issues challenging them during their Villanova undergrad years.” – Bill

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has surpassed my expectations; Bill has been a wonderful mentor who has immensely aided me in my professional career growth. A mentoring relationship is what you make of it, and I took the initiative to ask Bill for help as much as possible, which has made our relationship very successful.” – Nicolle

“It has exceeded my expectations. Nicolle is such a smart, motivated individual and so nice to work with, and the Mentor Program is well organized and executed… great communication and a caring environment.” – Bill

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“Our relationship is successful because we maintain open communication, and always establish goals for each meeting. Having predetermined goals enhance the focus and productivity of our meetings, while making them extremely helpful.” – Nicolle

“Nicolle! She is committed, organized, focused and a delight to work with.  I’ve gotten insights into her family and especially her relationship with her grandfather…. she is a very caring person and will be successful at the next level.” – Bill

4. What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“The best part of having a mentor is the professional support system, which Bill has been for me since sophomore year. He is always eager to share his experiences with me in the Accounting and Finance fields and offer internship advice. His continuous support and words of encouragement have assisted me with my professional career choice.” – Nicolle

“I’ve enjoyed contributing to the development of a very unique and talented person. Sometimes, we talk strategy or approach but since Nicolle has landed her internship and job offer on her own, I try to support with building confidence and help her not worry that she won’t be able to handle a situation.” – Bill

5. Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“I would encourage other pairs in the program to have frequent communication, whether through phone calls or meetings in person. It is essential to keep your mentor up-to-date on your professional career and ask as many questions as you need to. They are there to help you along the way, and we are lucky to have such a great program at VSB.” – Nicolle

“Listen to your mentee…. each person’s experience, goals, concerns are different – so many of us flip into ‘solving the issue’ but if you understand your mentee’s concerns, you will give great advice.” – Bill

  

Story: Chiayu “Jackie” Yuan '20 VSB and Aminah Fawad '15 VSB

Chiayu “Jackie” Yuan graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a co-major in Business Analytics. Aminah Fawad is a Senior Consultant at Deloitte. She graduated from Villanova in 2015 with a B.S. in Finance, Accounting, and MIS.

Chiayu “Jackie” Yuan '20 VSB and Aminah Fawad '15 VSB

1.     What inspired you to join the VSB Mentor Program?    

“Villanova is known to have a strong alumni network, so this program was perfect for me to meet someone that was once in my shoes as a VSB student. I’ve always wanted to establish a long-term relationship with someone who can help me develop professionally. Instead of becoming another name within my network, I wanted to know my mentor on a personal level.” – Jackie

“As a Villanova student, I had the opportunity to be developed by great mentors and be mentors to others. These experiences proved to be exceptionally valuable over the course of my four years, helping me make career and life decisions while developing some life-long relationships. I knew that being a part of the VSB Mentor Program would allow me to continue on this path in a meaningful way.” - Aminah

2.     How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has far exceeded my expectation. I am not the most outgoing person, so I feel a need to be mentally prepared before asking questions. Because Aminah is very understanding and patient, I have been able to gradually step out of my comfort zone. It’s great to have someone that provides honest opinions from a different perspective when discussing my short-term and long-term career plans. Aminah also offered to review my resume and prep interviews with me. I’m very thankful for everything she has done for me as a mentor.” – Jackie

“Far exceeded! When I first met Jackie, I could not imagine being where we are today. Not only has Jackie made incredible strides in her career (landing a Spring Co-Op AND a full-time offer at Johnson & Johnson!), our relationship has really blossomed, and I look forward to seeing that continue in years to come. While all of Jackie’s success is attributed to her hard work and drive, it is incredibly rewarding as a mentor to see her grow.” - Aminah

3.     What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“Communication and understanding are very important. Aminah and I try to schedule a catch-up call every 4-6 weeks, and we have always been very considerate of each other’s time when something comes up last minute.” – Jackie

“I think communication is key. For me, working full-time and traveling 4 days a week most weeks can be a handful. For Jackie, being a full-time student and then working full time can be a handful too! Having an open line of communication with Jackie really has helped us have meaningful time together, even if that mean’s rescheduling our calls to a different day to make sure we are both present for the conversations we need to have, even if it just catching up.” – Aminah

4.     What has been the best part about having a mentor/mentee?    

“The best part about having a mentor is knowing that someone is always there to support you and celebrate your success with you. I see Aminah as the person who has witnessed my growth from sophomore year to senior year. Without Aminah’s support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” – Jackie

“The best part about having a mentee is that warm fuzzy feeling (yes, I said it) when you see your mentee reach his/her goals. Sometimes it’s making a decision about classes, studying for a big exam, landing an interview, or even having a tough conversation – seeing a mentee reach and even exceed goals like this really make my day.”- Aminah

5.     Do you have a best practice to share with other pairs in the Program?

“I find it helpful to get to know your mentor outside of the traditional mentor/mentee relationship. The friendship acts as a base for proper communication and understanding. Schedules can sometimes get hectic for both sides, but it’s important to make an effort to keep each other updated and reschedule when necessary.” – Jackie

“Although it can be difficult, I think meeting in person really helps break down barriers. Once you know each other a little better, it is easier to have difficult conversations and grow more as a mentor/mentee pair.” - Aminah

  

  

Michele Gianforcaro
Associate Director of Professional Development – Mentor Program


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