ARCHIVED SUCCESS STORIES

Andrew Zakhary '19 CLAS and Joseph Kim '09 MBA

Andrew Zakhary grew up in Malvern, Pa., and graduated in 2019 with a B.A. in Liberal Studies. Joseph Kim is a Senior Advisor, Clinical Operations, Translational Technology & Innovation at Eli Lilly and Company. He earned an MBA in 2009.

Andrew Zakhary '19 CLAS and Joseph Kim '09 MBA

What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?  

 “I joined the VSB Mentor Program because it seemed like a great way to create a relationship with an alumnus who would help me with both personal and professional development.” - Andrew

 “My career journey was done completely blind. As a child of an immigrant family, there was no sense of how to get a job, no established network, and a stark cultural difference between my parents and the US working world. Having learned a great deal along the way, I wanted to give back!” - Joseph

How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I didn’t expect to find a mentor who had such a similar background to mine; that made the experience especially beneficial because Joseph is someone who has been in my shoes.” - Andrew

“It was very different than what I had expected. Not having done this before, I had made up my own expectations of something more formal in terms of questions and answers. It has turned out to be more organic and rewarding, and to be honest I learned a great deal about myself as well which was a big surprise.” - Joseph

What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Our relationship is successful because it has always been a two-way street. We consistently follow through with commitments such as our coffee meet-ups or even phone calls which have built our strong rapport.” - Andrew

“For my part, empathy and authenticity in my approach were key success factors. For my mentee’s part, modesty, curiosity, fearlessness and grit helped him achieve his goals. But most importantly, his wisdom in seeking the right framing versus black and white answers to his questions set him up for success not just during this time, but also for the future.” - Joseph

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

“The best part of having a mentor is the humility the mentee learns and will hopefully emulate once we can begin giving back too. Given that the mentors in the program are often busy with work or personal commitments, it’s great to see the dedication that alumni in the program have.” - Andrew

“This experience has helped me accept and recognize that my journey has been long and winding, and that I should be more grateful when it comes to how I perceive my own accomplishments and challenges. But when you get to witness the transformation of a young student into a promising professional, that is its own reward.” - Joseph

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

“Remember that the mentors are giving their time to you, as well as the people who manage the Mentor Program to make this all possible; so make every effort to maintain the relationship and take advantage of this awesome learning opportunity!” - Andrew

“For mentees, don’t look for rote answers to “what should I do?” Have your mentor help you think through alternatives, elucidate your values and clearly see tradeoffs. You have to own your decisions and thought processes, and most importantly find YOUR North Star. For mentors, stay humble, honest and don’t be tempted to solve every problem. Sometimes, a dose of encouragement and inspiration is all that is required.” - Joseph

  

Luke Lee '22 VSB and Bob Carfagno '72 VSB

Luke Lee is from Seoul, South Korea and is earning a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. Bob Carfagno is the CEO of Radiology Affiliates Imaging. He graduated from Villanova in 1972 with a B.B.A. in Accounting.

Luke Lee '22 VSB and Bob Carfagno '72 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?  

“I thought it would be very helpful to be able to foster a long-term relationship with someone who has lots of experience. It’s not as easy to ask certain questions or be able to take answers at face value unless you’ve known the person for a while, so I wanted to have someone like that. I felt that it would be good to have someone who could honestly evaluate my weaknesses and point out things I need to work on. When people don’t know you that well, they’re usually just polite about everything, so I wanted a mentor who would be more honest with their feedback than strangers or acquaintances. I think one of the biggest factors for me was that all the mentors were volunteers and wanted to give back their time and experience to help students. That was a big draw for me because the other side was going to be as excited and engaged and wanted to help.” - Luke

“I have been very fortunate in my career and I attribute much of my success to my Villanova education. In my previous company, located in Baltimore, I became involved in community services and I encouraged other employees to do the same. Our company was very active with United Way, Susan B. Komen, St. John’s Food Pantry and other outreach programs. I became involved in Villanova giving but due to distance was not able to get involved in campus activities. I met with Father Peter in 2011 when I returned to the area looking for ways to help Villanova’s mission. Shortly thereafter my wife and I established a scholarship endowment fund and I continued to look for ways to give back to Nova. Providing advice to a business student seemed like a way to help shape someone’s thought process as they moved towards a business career.” - Bob

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has met my expectations! It’s given me a mentor who I’m comfortable going to with questions and we focus more on the ‘big picture.’ While I can ask Bob resume or interview questions, we also discuss big career goals and plan how to meet those goals.” - Luke

“I really did not know what to expect. I recalled my own experience in making the transition from student to employment; it was hard. I was fortunate to have a family friend who was extremely helpful in my transition and hoped that I could do the same. Watching Luke grow over the past year as I have mentored him has resulted in me surpassing my original expectations.” - Bob

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Communicating consistently! I don’t think you have to talk that often, but just make sure it’s done consistently so you can build up the rapport and comfort level with each other.” - Luke

“I believe that Luke and I have had clear communication from the beginning. We took time to get to know each other and we focused on his needs and his goals. We established some benchmarks for him, and he did the work. Then we made sure to communicate periodically to measure progress. All of those steps helped build Luke’s confidence and will hopefully result in him reaching his goals.” - Bob

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

“Personally, it’s always having that one person to turn to with questions or to talk about how an experience went and discuss the takeaways together.” - Luke

“I have enjoyed helping Luke. The fact that he is an international student has made this experience even more special. I had the opportunity to meet his dad who had concerns about his son being a world away. That interaction was special and seeing his reassurance was an unexpected reward.” - Bob

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

“Communication is key, and you only get out what you put in. The mentors want to help but they can only work with what you give them.” - Luke

“My best practice involves two things:

1. Closely follow the advice and direction of the Mentor Program director.

  • Get to know your mentee
  • Establish goals together
  • Monitor progress with frequent communication

2. I adopted a profile aid that I have used at my companies for many years. It was very helpful to gain a deeper understanding of Luke and some of his tendencies.” - Bob

  

MaryPatricia Livngstone '19 VSB and Eric Martin '91 VSB, ’04 MBA

MaryPatricia Livingstone is from Plainfield, N.J., and will graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor’s eegree in Marketing and a co-major in Business Analytics with a concentration in Digital Marketing. Eric Martin is the Vice President of Marketing at SAP. He graduated from Villanova in 1991 with a B.S. in Marketing.

MaryPatricia Livngstone '19 VSB and Eric Martin '91 VSB, ’04 MBA

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

“I was inspired to join the Mentor Program because it seemed like a great way to tap into the huge Villanova Alumni network that I have been hearing about since before I even started school here. I am the first in my family to attend Villanova, so I had no Villanova-specific professional connections before joining the program and it just seemed like the perfect place to start.” – MaryPatricia

“I’ve been fortunate to have had some influential mentors along my career journey, and I know that the transition from college to the workforce is a particularly important time to seek and receive advice.” - Eric

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has far exceeded my expectations, which were pretty high to begin with. From the beginning, I felt so lucky to be matched with a mentor who is local to Villanova whom I could meet with in person right on campus. And I never could have expected that Eric would have gone from being not only my mentor, but a colleague as well in just a couple years.” - MaryPatricia

“My experience has been better than expected. When I was a college senior I was not nearly so articulate, thoughtful and career-minded as I’ve found MaryPatricia. The guidance and reminders provided by the VSB Mentor Program have been supportive, and it was also very helpful that the program made a match for us based on mutual interests.” - Eric

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“At face value, our mentor/mentee relationship has been so successful because, through this connection I was able to earn an internship role beginning last summer at SAP, where Eric works, and have been extended in that role throughout the past two academic semesters. But what has been even more valuable about our relationship is the quality of advice Eric has given me over the last two years, regarding career options both inside and outside of SAP, and even for more generic topics like interviewing and resume-building. Eric has made himself available to act as a sounding board for me any time I needed to talk something out regarding career moves both big and small. I am even more excited for the next chapter of this mentorship as I transition into my fulltime career and start to navigate even greater professional decisions.” - MaryPatricia   

“MaryPatricia and I communicate well. She clearly thinks through each of our discussions ahead of time, so that she’s well prepared and lets me know up-front what she’d like to get out of our conversations. I like to think that I’m a good listener and,  while I often have a point of view to share, I don’t try to bias her decisions.” – Eric

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

“The best part about having a mentor has been the constant third-party perspective that he has provided on decisions which I may have been previously weighed down with bias. Eric doesn’t just tell me what I should do, but instead helps me come to the best decisions on my own by asking questions and helping me analyze all the options and considerations I might not think of on my own.  Through this process, I have always felt so confident in the decisions I’ve made after consulting Eric.” – MaryPatricia

“There have been several of highlights for me in having MaryPatricia as a mentee. First, I have become friends with a rising star in the marketing world, and I get to see a very promising career get started. Second, I have been able to learn from our interactions, particularly about how a college senior is evaluating career options and potential employers. And third, I’ve also enjoyed the feeling that I’m giving back a little of what I’ve received earlier in my own career.” - Eric

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

“I recommend connecting with your mentor early and often. Part of what has been so essential for Eric and I so far has been how frequently we’ve gotten to connect, and therefore how much we’ve been able to discuss. And in turn, starting that kind of communication as early as possible can only improve the experience.” - MaryPatricia

“One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about my mentorship with MaryPatricia is that we’ve respected one another’s time. Perhaps that’s a necessity, since we’re both incredibly busy. But that respect for our time, and ensuring that our conversations are productive, doesn’t happen without planning ahead and following through on next steps, and it’s another item on a list of impressive things about MaryPatricia.” - Eric

  

Kyle DeMerlis '20 CLAS and Michael Ottaunick '14 VSB

Kyle DeMerlis is from Ambler, Pa., and will graduate in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science along with a minor in Business. Michael Ottaunick is the Marketing Manager at GLG. He graduated from Villanova in 2014 with a B.S. in Finance and Economics.

Kyle DeMerlis '20 CLAS and Michael Ottaunick '14 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?   

“I’m fortunate to have access to the VSB Mentor Program through the academic year business minor program at Villanova School of Business. I knew I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be paired with an alumnus who’s eager to guide me through my professional development. I was almost convinced that there had to be a “catch” because it sounded too good to be true. After attending the initial information session, the thought occurred to me that I didn’t need the Chronus mentor matching system to find a mentor because I already had one in Michael. Michael and I met on a service and justice experience through Villanova’s campus ministry in January of 2018. He was the graduate leader for our trip and we really bonded over the course of that week.” – Kyle

“I'm happy to say that Kyle inspired me to be a VSB mentor. We have a little bit of a unique mentor/mentee story in that we already knew each other before the start of the program. We met during a Villanova break trip where I was serving as the group's alumni advisor. I had a great experience working with current students and discovered that Kyle and I have a lot in common. I could also see that he is especially thoughtful and takes a lot of pride in his work, so it was easy to say yes when he asked if I would like to be his mentor!” - Michael

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I’ve been able to do so much more through the VSB Mentor Program than I could’ve ever anticipated. For instance, I attended the summer meetup in NYC and shadowed Michael while I was in town. He gave me a thorough rundown of GLG and his role within the company, as well as setting up a meeting for me with his colleague who has worked on political campaigns, something I’m interested in. Overall, I expected my mentor to be a great resource, but I never expected him to be a great friend, too.” – Kyle

“The one-on-one mentoring experience has been great, but beyond that, I've been surprised by the mentoring program events, like "Adulting in NYC" and the Summer Meetups. These have served as  additional ways of giving back to current students.” - Michael

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Our mentorship is unique because Michael and I both knew each other before joining the VSB Mentor Program. We got to know one another over a week of community service and discovered common passions for campus ministry, Villanova basketball, and politics, among others. Most importantly, above any other shared interest, is our respect for each other and the mentoring relationship. We both put effort into it, evidenced by frequent checkups and phone calls, often about internships or other professional topics, but sometimes about Big East hoops, as well.” – Kyle

“Both sides need to be invested in the relationship, and the fact that I know Kyle well outside of the program helps me as a mentor because I am genuinely rooting for his success even more. I can be sure that any extra help I provide is going to pay off. My favorite example of this when Kyle mentioned that he had gone to a Villanova Career Fair and enjoyed his conversation with the folks at the Vanguard booth. My friend and classmate, Matt Kaehler CLAS ‘14, [SW2] has worked at Vanguard for the last four years, so I thought it would be great to set them up on a phone call. It turned out Kyle made such a good impression that Matt invited him onsite to Vanguard's campus and scheduled a day of meet and greets. The moral of the story is that it's easy to be a good mentor when you have a close relationship with your mentee, and you can trust them to capitalize on the opportunities you offer up.” - Michael

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

“Michael is very connected, so he’s been able to help me learn about a variety of career paths and companies with his network. For instance, I expressed interest in Vanguard and he put me in touch with one of his best friends who happens to work there. I spoke with his friend on the phone about Vanguard and how he ended up there, eventually providing me with the opportunity to shadow him at Vanguard for a day.” - Kyle

“Even though we don't necessarily have the same career goals, I've had a great time introducing Kyle to people in my network who have experience in his areas of interest. For example, he had spent the summer supporting political campaigns in Pennsylvania, so I introduced him to one of my fellow GLG marketers who worked on political campaigns after college and then went on to work in the White House. It was great to hear them discuss potential career paths and the skills he would like to be building now. Each time I put Kyle in touch with someone else, it's great to hear how he's internalized the key takeaways and put them into action.” – Michael

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

“Try to connect with one another on a personal level in addition to a professional or academic one. Villanova basketball is a great topic for casual conversation, but there are probably other shared passions between a mentor and mentee. Finding it can be difficult, and granted Michael and I met because of our shared passion, campus ministry and service, however, this background is crucial to the mutual respect and trust that makes our mentorship and our friendship successful.” – Kyle

“Invest the right amount of time in the getting-to-know-you phone calls. Obviously not every pair has the benefit of knowing each other beforehand, but you can build that type of close relationship within the program. Truly caring about the success of your mentee leads to all sorts of great moments, and building trust helps both parties get what they are looking for out of the partnership.” - Michaell

  

Matthew Kropiewnicki ’20 VSB and Kat McAssey ’16 VSB

Matthew Kropiewnicki is from West Chester, Pa., and is pursuing a dual bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. Kat McAssey is a senior associate at KPMG Economic Valuation & Services. She graduated from Villanova in 2016 with a B.S. in Accountancy and Finance.  

 Matthew Kropiewnicki ’20 VSB and Kat McAssey ’16 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?    

“By my sophomore year, I still wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to pursue. I was seeking a mentor who had experiences and interests that aligned with mine so I could get their perspective and potentially some advice on areas I should research further, and where I should apply for internships.” – Matt

“Once I graduated from VSB in 2016, I wanted to make sure that I stayed as involved as possible within the Villanova community. KPMG hosts several recruiting events throughout the year at VSB, specifically with the Accounting Society. After I attended some recruiting events, I had the opportunity to present the steps of becoming a CPA to a B2B (Backpack to Briefcase) class. After the presentation, I noticed that several students had questions about work/life balance, studying for the CPA and transitioning from college to the workplace. I loved having the opportunity to be a resource to students. It was then that I decided to join the VSB Mentor Program so I could continue mentoring sophomores and juniors, and stay involved within the Villanova community.” – Kat

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“Kat has been an amazing mentor since the get-go. As an Accounting major, one of the things I was curious about was the Big 4 experience and public accounting as a whole. Kat and I met before I attended the KPMG summer leadership program, and she told me a lot about her experience at the firm and in public accounting. Hearing her perspective helped inform my decision to go into public accounting, and now I’m excited to intern at KPMG myself this summer!” - Matt

“My experience has exceed my expectation of the VSB Mentor Program. My mentee, Matt, and I first met in person after he returned from studying abroad. During our lunch together, we realized how many things we had in common. For example, we are both from the same hometown, and we both majored in Accounting and Finance. It was so exciting to be a mentor for Matt as he started his interview process because I went through the same types of experiences while I was at VSB.” - Kat

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“The connections we share. Once we started talking, we found out that not only did we grow up in the same town, we actually went to the same brother/sister high school! Drawing on those experiences was a great way to start our conversations. Also, Kat has lots of experience with the types of things I’m interested in, so she was able to answer a lot of the specific questions I had.” - Matt

“Our relationship was so successful because of the timing of the Mentor Program. Once Matt and I were matched together, we were able to meet in person a few times and I was able to talk him through the steps to interviewing for the leadership programs. Matt decided to attend the KPMG leadership in Philadelphia within the Tax department – and he further accepted an offer to intern the following year. I hope to continue my mentoring relationship with Matt as he begins his internship at KPMG here in the summer!” - Kat

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

“Knowing that I have someone I can trust and reach out to with any career-related questions–and get an honest and helpful answer–is the best part for me.” - Matt

“One of the best parts about having a mentee is the ability to share my experiences and advice. I love staying involved within the VSB community and having a mentee has helped me to stay up-to-date about what is going on within VSB.” - Kat

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

“Try to find connections and common ground you didn’t know about before you reached out to each other. It may help move the conversation along and strengthen your relationship or even lead to an opportunity you wouldn’t have thought about before.” - Matt

“One tip I would share with other pairs in the Mentor Program would be to always make an effort to meet in person, rather than just communicating through the portal. Once Matt returned from his time abroad, we were able to meet in person and I think this helped to solidify the mentor/mentee relationship. Plus, it made it much easier to get to know each other!” - Kat

  

Joe Bonomo '19 VSB and Edward DiConza '92 VSB

Joe Bonomo is from Port Jefferson, NY and will graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Real Estate, along with a minor in Business Law. Ed DiConza is the SVP of financial advising and portfolio management at RBC Wealth Management. He graduated from Villanova in 1992 with a B.S. in Finance.

 Joe Bonomo '19 VSB and Edward DiConza '92 VSB

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

“One of the main factors that motivated me to choose to attend Villanova was its emphasis on the “Nova Network” and how vast and active the alumni network is. I knew this would be extremely helpful for me to learn about the financial services industry as a whole and specific jobs within the industry. When I heard about the Mentor Program, it seemed like a no-brainer for me to join. It could only be a beneficial experience in which I would be able to form a relationship with a successful alumnus and in turn grow personally and professionally.” – Joe

“VSB has opened numerous doors for me, and I want others to feel as impacted as I have felt over the years. Being in the VSB Mentor Program is just a small way I can give back to a school very important to me.” - Ed

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I had high expectations going in and the Mentor Program has lived up to all of them and then some. I knew I would be able to make a meaningful connection, but I didn’t realize how well my mentor and I would get along.” - Joe

“This experience has exceeded my expectations. It’s personally rewarding to be a mentor, especially when the mentee is as great at Joe.” - Ed

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?    

“I believe my relationship has been successful for many different reasons. Primarily, we keep in touch often, even if it is just a quick message here and there. We have a mutual understanding that each of us is busy, but still make that effort to keep each other updated. Additionally, Ed has given me great advice over the years and my willingness to trust and listen to him has helped me grow in all aspects of my life.” - Joe

“Joe is a well-rounded, self-starter/motivator, which has made this relationship so successful. He always reaches out to catch up, and while we both have a mutual understanding that life can be hectic, we always find time to connect. We also share common interests; growing up in the same area and sharing similar interests is what makes our relationship stronger than just a business relationship.” - Ed

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

“It’s difficult for me to pick one specific aspect of having a mentor that I like the best. I would say the best part of having Ed as my mentor has been how well-rounded our relationship is. I have him to lean on and ask advice about important interviews and career decisions, but our relationship goes past that as we get along on a personal level as well. Whether it’s talking about basketball or just meeting to grab dinner and catch up, all of the experiences I’ve had have been meaningful for me.” – Joe

“Taking what knowledge I have of business and sharing that with Joe has been great. He asks meaningful questions, and I can tell he really cares about his future after college.” – Ed

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

“As advertised, the mentor/mentee relationship is truly what you make of it. A quick text here and there goes a long way and can help to keep the relationship alive and well. I recommend staying in touch as much as you can.” – Joe

“Communication is key. A small gesture goes a long way.” – Ed

  

Nicole Anderson '19 VSB and Jessica Gerber '93 VSB

Nicole Anderson is from St. Paul, Minnesota pursing a bachelor’s degree in both Management and International Business. Jessica Gerber is an entrepreneurial healthcare leader who graduated from Villanova in 1993 with a BS in Marketing.

 Nicole Anderson '19 VSB and Jessica Gerber '93 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?    

“This program was a great way to marry two passions: Villanova and mentorship. Having benefited from excellent mentors throughout my career, the VSB Mentor Program offered an important forum to pay it forward and to stay connected with the Villanova community.” –Jessica

“I saw the program as an opportunity to connect with a Villanova alumna, and develop a professional relationship with a person in my field of study. I also saw it as a chance to gain insights and advice from an experienced professional.” – Nicole

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“I have loved the relationship aspect of this program – it allows Nicole and me to focus on the whole person, not just transactional needs. Our relationship has been built over the past two years, and we are heavily invested in making both our relationship and the program successful, so much that we are currently the only student/mentor pair on the VSB Mentor Program Advisory Board.” – Jessica

“My experience in the program exceeded my expectation. Jessica and I have a relationship that extends beyond career advice; we care about each other on a personal level. I think the VSB Mentor Program uniquely reflects the Augustinian values interwoven in Villanova culture. Pairs are encouraged to approach the mentor experience holistically and truly get to know one another. At the end of the day, we are all multifaceted human beings with many different interests that make up who we are and how we define success.” - Nicole

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“Commitment and communication. We are both committed to making this a successful relationship and in turn are open and transparent in our communication with one another.” - Jessica

“Besides being relationship-centered, I think that a hallmark of a successful mentor-mentee pair is communication. Jessica and I respect each other’s time and lives outside of our careers and the Mentor Program. We make time to connect about once a month, but I also know that she is there for me whenever I need her outside of that.” – Nicole

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

“I love experiencing the new Villanova through Nicole. VSB and its offerings to students have evolved so much since my time and hearing firsthand from Nicole really brings the new Villanova to life and reconnects me in a more personal, meaningful way.” – Jessica

“For me, the best part about a mentor has been having a sound voice of reason for advice about my career path outside of my friends and family, and a window into what life is like post-graduation. Jessica is still very involved with the Villanova community, so she is a role model to me for how to stay connected on campus in the future. I have been so in awe of how much she – and the rest of the mentors in the program – truly care about students and want to help us become successful.” – Nicole

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

“Nicole and I respect each other – we both have busy lives and different goals for the program, so we have figured out an approach that works for both of us. This is a two-way relationship so there’s no cookie cutter approach, just the best foot forward by both of us.” – Jessica

“Like any relationship, you have to figure out what works best for you. There is no perfect approach. What matters is that you’re being genuine and giving your best effort to make it an impactful, rewarding experience for both of you.” – Nicole

  

Mitch Schermerhorn '20 VSB and Mike Ford '79 VSB

Mitch Schermerhorn ’20 VSB, from Northbrook, Ill., is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both Accounting and Real Estate. Mike Ford ’79 VSB, SVP of Internal Audit at Ahold Delhaize (Giant, Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Hannaford, and Peapod in the U.S.), earned his degree in Accounting.  

Mitch Schermerhorn '20 VSB and Mike Ford '79 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?   

“I have a real desire to share a career’s worth of experiences and to give back to Villanova students. The VSB Program is the most direct and personal way I can do this right now. My career experiences started with my junior year internship as a Villanova Accounting major and continue to this day through a diverse career in the Big Four and international public companies in the U.S. and Europe. Although it’s been many years since that internship, I believe my learnings back then and since will help Mitch and give him perspective in preparation for his own career.” – Mike

“I saw the program as a good opportunity to connect with a Villanova alumnus, and develop a professional relationship with a person in my field of study. I also saw it as a chance to gain insights and advice from an experienced professional.” – Mitch

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience after nearly six months has far exceeded my expectations. Though we are still developing and fine-tuning our relationship and establishing the best way to work together, we’ve accomplished a great deal. So far, we’ve worked through some of Mitch’s more important goals and have introduced him to what it’s like to work in the public accounting and auditing field. Mitch and I learn a little more about each other every meeting and this makes each meeting more effective. We are at the point where we have a nice cadence of meetings with agendas covering short and longer-term goals. We always start by catching up on our respective lives, followed by trading ideas on our agenda topics, exploring new areas that come up and setting a tentative agenda for our next meeting.” – Mike

“The experience has certainly exceeded my expectation. Mike really makes our meetings enjoyable and enriching. One thing we discussed was what to expect in an interview. Discussing this helped me to feel more comfortable in the interview room, and better prepared to answer difficult questions.” - Mitch

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“We’ve been successful for three main reasons: first, we have respect for each other’s time and come prepared for every meeting. Second, we started our relationship by learning about each other and what each of us wants to get out of the VSB Mentor Program; and third, early in our time together, we set initial goals to prepare Mitch for the internship interview process and a plan to achieve them by the end of the summer. For this fall, we have set goals that will prepare Mitch for his future internship while also working on other soft skills, like making effective presentations.” - Mike

 “Logistically speaking, we keep in touch regularly and set dates and times in advance so we can make time in our busy schedules to talk. Additionally, we make an effort to set goals and bring value to meetings.” – Mitch

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

“I have really enjoyed getting to know Mitch and his career plans, hearing about the areas he’s studying and learning about what is going on at VSB. Personally, it’s been rewarding to share my perspectives on the Big Four/public accounting and broader risk management field with Mitch as well as provide him with real-world experience from an international perspective. I’ve also enjoyed sharing some of the intangibles with Mitch of what it takes to be successful – areas like leadership; negotiation and presentation skills. It’s been great to see Mitch’s knowledge, awareness and interest grow and develop in these areas.” - Mike

“The best part is having a professional in my field of interest is asking questions about what I’m studying and what I will face in the real world. I think it has already helped me to become more prepared to enter the workforce.” – Mitch

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

“Two best practices we developed during our first six months were  to talk at least monthly, even over the summer, and  to make it a point to have an agenda for each meeting; making for efficient, focused meetings. But we’ve also been flexible with our agendas. For instance, when Mitch found out that he’d have his internship interviews the first two weeks of school, we adjusted and focused our time preparing for and anticipating interview questions.” – Mike

“I think it is just like anything else, what you put in is what you get out. If you put the effort into developing a good relationship, your experience with the program will be worthwhile.” – Mitch

  

Jenna Kosinski '19 VSB and Lee Sardone '92 VSB

Jenna Kosinski ’19 VSB is a senior Honors student from Andover, Mass., pursing a bachelor’s degree in Finance. Lee Sardone ’92 VSB, VP of Wellington Management in Boston, earned his degree in Accounting.  

Jenna Kosinski '19 VSB and Lee Sardone '92 VSB

1. What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

“I was interested in the Mentor Program because I knew it would be a good way to gain professional insight on choosing a career path. I also wanted someone who could help me grow my network, particularly in the Boston area. However, the main reason I joined the VSB Mentor Program was because it seemed like a great opportunity to meet someone who was experienced and could provide counsel when I had questions. Whether it was choosing a major, reviewing my resume, or looking at job possibilities, I knew having a Villanova alumnus who shared my values would be an amazing resource.” - Jenna

“When I first saw the opportunity to become a part of this program, so many things resonated with me. In no particular order, this is what came to mind:

  • Mentoring would give me an opportunity to connect first hand with the school.
  • I wish I had a mentor when I was in college.
  • I already do a lot of mentoring with younger employees at my firm, and with friends’ sons and daughters who are looking for advice. Why not do it with fellow future alums?
  • It’s a great way to give back and make our school a better place.” - Lee

2. How has your experience compared to your expectation?

“My experience has far exceeded my expectations. Lee has been a tremendous help throughout my years at Nova, and I’m so happy to have him as my mentor. From proofing my resume sophomore year to helping me find an internship this past summer, he has always been so enthusiastic about setting me up for success. While I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to major in, he had me shadow people in different departments of his company to see what interested me. He was also instrumental in helping me find an internship this past summer that I absolutely loved. I can always tell that he not only wants me to succeed, but he also wants me to be happy.” - Jenna

“My expectations have been exceeded! Jenna has been a wonderful listener and it has been incredible sharing and imparting the wisdom I have on a student who wants to succeed. I also feel humbled that people like us can make such an impression on current students. We started talking two years ago and I feel like Jenna has been able to glean so much from the things we have discussed.” - Lee

3. What makes your relationship a successful one?

“I think our relationship is successful because we are very open with each other. I can ask Lee anything and know I will get an honest response. He has so much experience under his belt which gives him a very unique viewpoint, and I really appreciate that. Communication has also been a reason for our success. We are both very busy, but we always try our best to meet up in Boston for coffee, and will text each other just to check in.” - Jenna

“Jenna has been so open to meeting when she is home in Boston, and makes such a great impression on everyone I set her up with, that  she not only makes herself a better employment candidate but also makes me look good at the same time (which is hard to do!). People have gone out of their way after their first interaction to make sure she has what she needs and usually follow up asking what else they can do to help her.” - Lee

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

“The best part about having a mentor has been having someone who always supports me and is there to be my guide when I’m not sure what to do or where to go next. Additionally, Lee has helped me grow my network immensely. He has so many connections and is always trying to put me in contact with anyone he thinks would be a good resource. He always has my best interests at heart and truly wants me to be successful.” - Jenna

“The fact that I have had such an impact on someone’s development, aside from my own children, and that she is so appreciative of what I have helped her with, is the most rewarding. Jenna was able to intern at a company in Boston that really suited her potential interests, and likely, she will end up getting an offer from them upon graduation. Additionally, while we all know the success of VU’s basketball team has made us feel proud of our connection to Villanova, this experience has been made me even more proud of my affiliation; so much so that I have asked to mentor more students so that, in the end, I can have my own “family tree” of mentees.” - Lee

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

“The best advice I would give to other pairs in the Mentor Program is don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ve learned so much from Lee about the workplace that I wouldn’t have learned in school because I’m comfortable asking him about things I don’t know. He has helped me through many situations where I wasn’t exactly sure of the next step. Mentors are a wealth of knowledge, so the more questions you ask, the more information you’ll have. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to be prepared for life after college.”
- Jenna

“If you become a mentor in this Program, put as much into it as you can. You honestly do not realize how much of a mark you make on these young, impressionable students that we all once were. We all have that in common. Any help you can provide from your network or your experience is more than any of the students had before they met you.  Whether you realize it or not, you are making Villanova stronger by making our students better candidates in the workforce, and on a better track to be successful alums. This can then be carried forward for generations and you can be an integral part of that process.” - Lee

  

Gabrielle (Gabby) Daigneault ’18 VSB Patti O’Shea ’87 VLS

Gabrielle (Gabby) Daigneault ’18 VSB will begin the Masters in Accounting with Data Analytics program at VSB in the fall. Patti O’Shea ’87 VLS graduated with a Masters in Taxation; her early career focused on corporate tax and tax consulting. Currently, she is the Assistant Finance Director for the Devon Horse Show organization, where she has been able to combine her professional skills and love for horses.

 Gabrielle Daigneault ’18 VSB and Patti O’Shea ’87 VLS

1.     What inspired you to join the VSB mentor program?

I decided to join the VSB mentor program because I thought it would be a good place to start building connections. I was a sophomore, just figuring out that I wanted to be an accounting major. Out of the friends I had made so far at Villanova, no else had committed to studying accounting. I wanted to meet with someone who could relate to me and help me go through the process.” -Gabby

“I had recently retired from an exciting and rewarding career as a tax professional. I thought back to my college days and recalled the uncertainty and nervousness of finding my first job. I was nervous that I might not have enough to offer Gabby since I was out of the market, but thought it would be rewarding to try to help someone else by giving them a perspective 40 years after college, with all the ups and downs behind me!” –Patti

2.     How has your experience compared to your expectation?

This experience exceeded all of my expectations. Not only did I get a mentor out of the process, but a friend as well. I heard some stories from my friends about how they had lost contact with their mentors. Looking back, I am so glad this did not happen in my mentor-mentee relationship.” -Gabby

“The experience was even more rewarding that I had hoped. Gabby and I got along well from the beginning. She was curious and shared her thoughts and wishes. I was able to introduce her to people who gave her advice on job fairs and things to consider. We met every two months and even talked on the phone before her job fairs or after her interviews. We reviewed her resume together and talked about etiquette for job interviews. She appreciated what I had to say and I appreciated her questions and feedback.” -Patti

3.     What makes your relationship a successful one?    

I believe the relationship that Patti and I have is successful because we aim to contact each other at least once a month. Whether it’s through email, text or in person, we always try to find a way to check in. Also, we are both aware that life can get hectic. Sometimes, other things take priority, like exams, vacations, weddings; the list goes on and on. However, this is not an excuse to give up. The dinners we had always made up for the time we hadn’t seen each other, and it just gave us more to talk about. I believe our constant commitment to maintaining this relationship for the past two years is what made it so successful.” -Gabby

“We kept in touch by text, email or phone and also met for dinner every few months. Gabby enjoyed getting off campus and it helped us get to know each other on a personal basis. She is a swimmer and I am an equestrian so we discussed our sports. Plus, we became friends on Facebook so we got to informally meet each other's families.” -Patti

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

“The best part about having a mentor is knowing that there is someone who cares. Every time I had an interview, or a career fair to attend, Patti would send me words of encouragement, tips, and would ask about the outcome afterwards. Having someone who is invested in your professional life feels fantastic.” -Gabby

"The best part of mentoring is to have the opportunity to work with the young people.  I enjoyed learning how the finance program at Villanova has evolved since I was in college. The idea of the University offering a professional mentor/mentee program is a perfect way to prepare the students for their future!" -Patti

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

I recommend setting aside time once a month to meet up. Having that face-to-face contact really helps build a relationship. Patti and I had the ritual of going to Chili’s at least once every two months and I always looked forward to this. My advice would be to put effort into forming a relationship with your mentee, because as a senior now, I am happy ‘sophomore me’ decided to go through the process.” -Gabby

“I believe the fact that we had regular communication, even if by phone or text, was beneficial. That way I could get a feel for how Gabby was feeling about something and give her encouragement or advice on how to deal with it. Gabby knew she could reach out to me whenever she wanted and I would send a quick text if we had not gotten together in a while.”

-Patti

6.     Patti – feel free to share any observations you have experienced working with Gabby since the beginning of your relationship.

“Gabby is a wonderful, well-rounded young woman. She has a warm, friendly demeanor which will help her work well with others. She is dedicated; she is a swimmer, studied accounting and held a part-time job. Gabby knows how to manage her time between work and play, which is important in balancing work and personal life. Gabby decided to go to graduate school at Villanova so we have plans to keep in touch this year while she is still on campus.” -Patti

7.     Gabby – what are your future plans?

“After graduation, I will be going home for the summer and starting the Masters in Accounting with Data Analytics program at Villanova University in the fall.” -Gabby

Michele Gianforcaro
Associate Director of Professional Development – Mentor Program


CONNECT AND FOLLOW US

LinkedIn Logo