Ep. 39: Olya Kovnatska - Mentoring the IMA Way

January 02, 2020 | 12 Minutes

January is National Mentoring Month and IMA would like to recognize a few of our members and their contributions to their respective mentoring relationships. Olya Kovnatska, Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis at United Rentals in Stamford, CT, is an active IMA member who is passionate about mentoring. In this episode, she starts off our conversation by explaining the basic benefits of mentoring for the mentor and the mentee. Throughout the episode, Olya is joined by two finance individuals who are equally as passionate about mentoring--Anthony Sperduti, Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis at United Rentals in Stamford, CT, and Tatyana Corban, Principal Consultant from Portland, OR. This is a great high-level episode for those who may be interested in finding a mentor or simply curious about how practical it is to work with a mentor. Olya talks about the organizational benefits such a relationship can have, as well, and some general points about working with others. Download, listen, rate, and review now!

IMA's website: https://www.imanet.org/
IMA's Leadership Academy: https://www.imanet.org/career-resources/leadership-academy
Mentoring with IMA: https://mynetwork.imanet.org/mentoring/mentoring

: (00:00)
Welcome back to count me in. IMA's a podcast about all things affecting the accounting and finance world. I'm your host Mitch Roshong with me is my co host Adam Larson and we are happy to bring you episode 39 of our podcast series. Most management accountants can relate to the benefits of having a mentor. So to kick off the new year, we have an episode dedicated to mentoring. 
Adam: (00:28)
To start us off, we're going to hear from Olya, manager of financial planning and analysis at United rentals in Stanford, Connecticut. She is going to talk us through the benefits of mentoring for a mentee for the mentor and how to develop a mentoring relationship. Also, during this episode we're going to jump to a couple of personal stories from different finance individuals who have realized the benefit of having a mentor. So without further ado, let's listen to our conversation on mentoring. 
Mitch: (00:55)
In your opinion, what are the benefits of mentoring? 
Olya: (01:04)
In the recent years, so much has been said and written about the benefits of mentoring from both the mentee and mentor. Not surprisingly, mentoring has become increasingly popular among successful organizations. In fact more than 70% of fortune 500 companies use mentoring to attract, develop and retain talent as well as increase productivity and that they interest in. The fact is that mentoring has also been credited with helping entire organizations cultivate the culture of innovation and inclusion. 
Adam: (01:38)
How so? What are the overall benefits of a mentoring relationship say for the mentee first? 
Olya: (01:43)
There are numerous benefits that mentoring provides for the mentee. Whether you even start by working with the mentor, the mentee receives personalized education that is tailored to their specific needs. Who would then throw on that? For example, when I was initially looking for a mentor, well I wanted was to find someone who could help me improve my public speaking skills. I'd lay the land my needs, you will. Beyond that, my mentor and I developed the new plan. The next benefit is that mentors also provide mentees with the advice and guidance they need to help them define and set realistic career goals as well as develop strategies on how to achieve them. They also hold them accountable for the results, which I believe is the key to success 
Adam: (02:34)
And as a mentee, how important is it to select the right mentor to reap these benefits? 
Olya: (02:41)
The right mentor will encourage you to take calculated risks which ultimately increases both your leadership capabilities and opportunities for advancement. At the same time, they could also save you from making mistakes that could set your career back. When I was looking for a way to enhance my leadership skills so I could prepare myself for the next role. My mentor suggested that they joined the board of a nonprofit organization. I followed his advice and after receiving my CMA certificate nation, I got involved with my local IMA chapter. There I gained valuable experiences and skills mutually the arm I was able to apply at work. 
Mitch: (03:28)
To reinforce all your summary of the benefits for a mentee in a mentoring relationship. We are now going to hear from Anthony Sperduti, manager of financial planning and analysis at United rentals as he shares a story about the impact mentoring had on him in his career. 
Anthony: (03:42)
Early in my career I faced a difficult situation and that's when I learned the benefits of having a mentor. When I was a second year staff at the CPA firm I used to work for, I made a pretty significant error on one of our audit procedures. We had just finished field work and the error would require going back out to the client and re-performing the audit test. I can remember the unsettling feeling of having to go to the principal on the account worrying how he would take it instead of chastising me or yelling at me over it. He told me, as long as you worked for me, it'll never be your fault. I reviewed the work too. We both missed it. That was a really important lesson for me. Mistakes happen, but instead of making me feel worse about it, the principal helped me learn from the experience, understand how the mistake happened, fix it and re instill the confidence I needed to tackle my next job. From that moment on, I sought this person's guidance throughout my career and still do to this day. Despite no longer working together, I attribute much of the success I've had professionally does mentorship and hope to emulate the impact he had on me to other young professionals to help them advance in their careers. 
Adam: (04:57)
So before we transition over to the mentor side, do you have any other comments on the benefits of mentoring for a mentee? 
Olya: (05:06)
This podcast is not long enough to list all benefits for the mentees. I could go on and on, but if I reflect on my personal experience, I think the most valuable benefit of mentoring is that it provides a positive, but at the same time challenge and the growth environment with mentee can improve their skills and build confidence necessary for their future success. 
Mitch: (05:31)
Okay. So now in your opinion, what are the benefits of a mentor and relationship for the mentor? 
Olya: (05:37)
That's a really good question because I think the benefits for the mentor are often overlooked. A common misperception is that the mentee is the primary and sometimes the only beneficiary from the mentoring relationship, which is not necessarily true. I read and heard multiple testimonials when mentors side just how rewarding their mentoring experience has been and how much satisfaction they received when they give back to their organization and the profession they love. They also highlight that helping others grow and develop by sharing their knowledge, insights and expertise has made them by their leaders as well which in turn enhance their but you need just for advancement by being the mentor. They also earn the respect from their colleagues and prestige at their organizations. It's not a secret that the leaders who can develop other leaders are highly valued and sought after and that the benefit that I'd like to pinpoint is that mentors can also learn from them into use so they can stay current with the most recent trends. That's why the concept of reverse mentoring has been gaining popularity when younger employees appear this season. Executives usually to teach them about new technologies and products. As you can see, there is something in mentoring for everyone. 
Adam: (07:04)
We are now going to turn our attention to Tatyana Corban, CPA and freelance principle consultant so we can hear one of her personal stories and her perspective on mentoring. 
Tatyana: (07:13)
In your professional life, you could become a mentor, a mentee even without assuming a formal role that happened to me. I was liking one of my first accounting instructors at a local community college was a welcoming and knowledgeable individual. His name was Mike Lawrence. Michael was both CMA and CPA. He was teaching accounting in the few colleges and universities for over 20 plus years and he also was an IMA board member. I shared my educational and professional goals with him and as his student I was able to get his professional guidance. After I finished the course, Mike invited me to the local IMA chapters monthly meeting. Being new to the country and to the area. I was very excited to meet other professionals and the meeting Mike advised and encouraged me to join the local chapters. I am a board of directors. I followed Mike's advice and started attending the board meetings right away. I did not have a specific role. For some time, but ended every meeting nevertheless and contributed. However I could. Mike believed in me and encouraged me to continue working on my certifications. He's been a very strong, positive influence in my life. Throughout the years. We would meet a few times a year for a quick lunch or the monthly chapters meetings. I would share with him what I was going through in my professional development would ask for his opinion and his guidance and he generously shared his with them with me. His faith in me and encouragement definitely helped me progressing further in my professional career. Through Mike's encouragement, I volunteered for almost nine years at the local IMA chapter, including five years of being in charge of the educational program. As a VP of education. Through my volunteering and working with local IMA leaders, I was able to get more informal mentoring and coaching. I also build stronger professional connections and improve my leadership skills. When you look for a mentor, I mentee don't only look for formally organized mentor-ship programs and invest your time in building relationships with people around you. When looking for a mentor, reach out to more experienced and successful people at your college and university, your work and visit local professional organizations to find the advice, encouragement and guidance you're looking for them. Although each organization will have different requirements, you often would need a specific title or expertise to attend the networking events. One of the great resources for you are the local IMA chapters if you have one in your area, but then in the chapters meetings and volunteering, you will build your network and find the mentoring relationships. 
Mitch: (10:14)
So Olya, can you please now share with our listeners how to go about finding a mentor when looking for a mentor? 
Olya: (10:25)
Many of us think of our workplace as the most logical place to start our search and while having the mentor at work definitely has its benefits and conveniences. I would also encourage you to look for a mentor outside of your organization so you can take advantage of their independent perspective. For me, it's a similar concept to how organizations select their board of directors. They want someone impartial and objective in their corner and I believe so should we. My mentor once told me, just like you choose your job wisely, choose your mentor wisely. 
Announcer: (11:03)
This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.