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The Value of Mentoring

Posted June 21, 2014 in News

By Leigh Teece P’16
Kravis Leadership Institute Member of the Advisory Board

The education industry, which is traditionally tasked with delivering learning, is going through a fundamental change, from centrally disseminated knowledge to consumption of particular content tailored to each consumer’s interest. How well is this change being handled?

The best universities in the world have a freshman dropout rate of 10%. Community colleges have a dropout rate approaching 60%. E-learning results on dropout are even worse: 95%. How do we get students to stay with the program? We assert this happens through mentoring.

To succeed in today’s world, individuals need different skills: transformational skills. Transformational skills are learned not only from the giants of science and arts, but also from the global crowd talent pool around the world.

I encourage you to look at the number of careers that people these days are expected to have. The number of careers that you are expected to have. Life expectancy is on the rise. You may live to be well over 100 and in good health. Our education systems weren’t designed to train us for this longevity, nor to live in a world of constant change.

To cope with this change we need a new paradigm, one that encapsulates transformational skills. The skills necessary for transformational change are not taught in textbooks and classrooms alone. The skills needed for transformational change are experiential skills; they are skills shared between people, and they are the product of human relationships, often called mentoring.

Mentoring envisions an education system with an expert for every life-long learner. The internet enables us to reach networks of experts, in every domain of expertise. Imagine a learning environment where these networks are easily accessed to improve education. Imagine a learning environment where knowledge is transferred between generations, not just one-way, but a true bidirectional generational knowledge transfer. Imagine a learning environment that overcomes the tyranny of distance and the tyranny of boredom. This is the world enabled by mentoring.

As education is changing, mentoring brings the human touch to the crowd-based experience that we are coming to rely on. With mentoring, you can both contribute and benefit. As individual consumers, you can now access new skills, and you have the opportunity, through mentoring, to establish a trusted relationship with another generation.

Mentoring has been shown essential to success for millennia. In the times of Aristotle and Socrates, mentoring was traditional, person-to-person. The people you knew in your social circle were your mentors, typically limited by the distance between villages and cities.

In the times of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, the language of high technology has forever entered the domain of learning. Today, adding the human dimension to an increasingly high tech educational experience has become essential.

Right now students are already able to access the largest libraries, the most comprehensive journal databases, and the most connected networks of teachers, mentors and peers. You can draw on the experience and wisdom of the global crowd, from thought leaders to deep domain experts in every field. A personal, human experience is what is essential to make the best of these connections.

Even as learners become digitally connected with virtually everybody in the world, they become increasingly disconnected from their fellow learners. The lack of the social support mechanisms that is so apparent in e-learning deprives the learners of the opportunity to fully engage and get the knowledge they need. This does not depend on the abilities of the learners. Individuals, ranging from average to superior, can reach the level to which they aspire, by accessing learning materials tailored to their education, with support of mentors in their world.

I want to encourage all of you to participate in this transformation of education. Become mentors to future leaders of tomorrow. Seek out mentors for yourself to inspire you to reach even greater heights.

Leigh Teece is Founder, CEO and Chair of World Mentor, an innovative web-based mentoring program that vastly expands the benefits of traditional mentoring by using proprietary technology in combination with innovative processes and customized content. The program has global reach through affiliations with organizations with 24,000 members in 170 different countries. She is also President of the Teece Family Foundation and Chairman of the Board for Mt. Beautiful Winery, a family owned vineyard in Cheviot Hills, New Zealand.

Earlier in her career, she was co-founder and senior Vice President of Technology Interlink, a company that matched Japanese companies with American high tech startups—with similar activities directed toward Europe and European marketing and sales. She also served as Vice President of Technology Funding where she was responsible for financial modeling and investment analyses.

As a Vice President for Wells Fargo and Company, she managed the bank’s loan portfolios in Panama and Colombia, South America for the International Banking Group. Leigh has an MBA from Michigan University’s Ross School of Business with a focus on finance and international business. Her undergraduate degree is from University of Southern California’s School of International Relations.