Wayne Williams and Randell Daniels
Across the Fox School is a network of support. Beyond the classroom, informal and formal mentoring allows Fox students, staff and faculty to reach new heights.
“It’s one of the most fulfilling things I do in my role at Temple, at Fox and beyond,” says Gavin Farber, academic advisor and coordinator of two staff mentorship programs at Temple. “Because essentially, I’m trying to impart wisdom, share stories and sort of allow people to learn from my mistakes.”
We spoke to four pairs of mentors and mentees about how they’ve grown with guidance, learned by coaching and thrived with mentorship.
“In many ways, mentors are to mentees what coxswains are to rowers—a guiding and encouraging presence. Mentorship is important not only because it lends mentees the benefit of avoiding common mistakes and pitfalls along a journey, which costs time and effort, but also because they set a standard for mentees to aspire to, creating an atmosphere of constant growth and self-improvement.” – Randell Daniels, BBA ’20
AS A STUDENT, Professor Wayne Williams, BBA ’94, was fortunate to find a mentor at a National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) event—Temple alumnus John Milligan, BBA ’75. After graduation, Williams worked for Milligan’s CPA firm in Philadelphia, where he saw Milligan grow his business as he guided several young accountants.
Years later, Williams joined the faculty of the Fox School and had the opportunity to pay it forward. As faculty advisor, Williams has had the opportunity to counsel many students, including Randell Daniels, BBA ’20, who served as a treasurer for NABA as a junior.
Daniels is also a mentor himself with DonCARES of Philadelphia, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded by Temple alumnus Donovan Forrest. DonCARES provides mentorship and professional development workshops for North Philadelphia high school students. “I have been fortunate enough to mentor an incredibly talented and industrious young man, Zyquell Watts,” says Daniels, “who not only loves music and carpentry, but is, as of June 2020, officially a high school graduate! I consider it a privilege to be a small part of Zyquell’s life.”
WILLIAMS: I have had the privilege to serve as the faculty advisor for NABA, whose motto “Lifting as We Climb” is both a source of pride and a call to duty for its members. My relationship as a protégé to John Milligan and as a mentor to Randell Daniels best reflects and honors the essence of the organizational maxim. [Milligan] helped shape my business ethics and influenced the studentcentered engagement approach to my life as a faculty member.
DANIELS: Since I joined NABA, Dr. Williams has encouraged me to demonstrate professionalism, altruism and compassion. Dr. Williams has, through action and lecture, demonstrated the extent to which character and authenticity contribute to creating deep, long-lasting relationships.
WILLIAMS: Over the years, I have assembled a growing collection of personal handwritten notes, photographs, cultural artifacts and treasured gestures of appreciation that serve as constant sources of inspiration. One note that particularly stands out for its prose, kindness and humility is the one from Randell.
DANIELS: The most impactful lesson I learned through my mentor/mentee relationship experience is that one must be influenced in order to influence. This was a huge lesson for me because I realized early on that if I wanted to have lasting impact on Zyquell, I first had to make myself vulnerable by listening solely empathetically, lending neither suggestions nor solutions to Zyquell’s dilemmas.
WILLIAMS: Faculty mentoring could be defined as a relationship based upon three factors: validation, motivation and resourcefulness. Validation is achieved through active listening and the exploration of individual identity and purpose; this can be useful in helping students understand their major and the career paths consistent with their unique talents and interests.
DANIELS: To me, mentorship means balancing the naivety of youth with the experience of the elders. It means planning a course of action and checking the plan’s feasibility with those who have already traversed the path. It means learning to listen as much as I speak and learning to observe before I engage.
Samar Khan and Laura Aboyan
THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROGRAM COUNCIL (APC), a voluntary service group consisting of staff from the Fox School and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), hosts a number of professional development opportunities for members. Last year, APC started its first-ever mentorship program, managed by Gavin Farber, a member of the Fox academic advising team.
Laura Aboyan, associate director, curriculum management and assessment, volunteered to be a mentor for the first cohort. She says, “I got involved in the APC mentorship program because my role is very faculty-centric. There are some staff members I worked with on a regular basis, but I wanted to expand my circle.”
She was paired with Samar Khan, assistant director for the MS Business Analytics and Data Science program in the Department of Statistical Science, who started at Temple University in 2018.
“The program helped me get out of my bubble and meet new people.” – Laura Aboyan
ABOYAN: I wanted to help new employees find their footing at Fox.
Starting a new job can be a scary thing, particularly in an organization as large as the Fox School. Having one person who you know is there to help you find your way can go a long way towards making someone feel at home. In my role at a previous institution, I was lucky to work for someone who was very invested in both my personal and professional success. I learned so much from watching her and from the opportunities that she gave me. It’s important to me to be able to pay that forward.
KHAN: I am a huge proponent of mentoring. It is kind of like building your own personal advisory board and quite different from coaching or one-on-one training. There are studies that indicate that those with mentoring experience have greater job satisfaction and commitment to their employer. I was fortunate to be paired with an APC mentor from whose knowledge and experience I benefited greatly.
ABOYAN: The program helped me get out of my bubble and meet new people and explore new opportunities. It also helped me as I moved into a supervisory role. I was able to incorporate some of the strategies and resources we discussed through the program into my own practice.
KHAN: The mentoring relationship is there to help develop the talent you already have and empower you to deliver your best to the organization. At the end of the day, knowing your own skills, what you are good at, your values, will help establish your mentor-mentee relationship goals, as well as guide you to success overall in your career path.
ABOYAN: To me, mentorship is a partnership. While I was the mentor in this scenario, there were definitely times when learning from Samar was more important than what I could teach her. It’s an opportunity to help someone thrive in their chosen path by listening, supporting and offering guidance when it’s needed, which is something we could probably all use in our lives.
“I am a huge proponent of mentoring.” – Samar Khan
Samayita Guha and Subodha Kumar
PHD CANDIDATE SAMAYITA GUHA first met Professor Subodha Kumar at Texas A&M University.
When Kumar took a position at Temple University, Guha chose to continue her PhD studies with him in Philadelphia. In the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Guha and Kumar have worked together on several papers and projects in areas such as healthcare analytics and retail trends.
Kumar has worked with many students as the PhD concentration advisor for marketing and supply chain management. He says, “In my opinion, mentorship is the most important and the most rewarding part of our profession.”
He adds, “Whenever I work with a doctoral student, I learn new things because of different perspectives each student brings. In terms of learning, working with a doctoral student is no less significant than writing a new dissertation.”
“In my opinion, mentorship is the most important and the most rewarding part of our profession.” – Subodha Kumar
GUHA: As PhD advisor, Professor Kumar is very enthusiastic about his research and he infuses the same zeal in his PhD students to accomplish top-quality research. He provided guidance and direction to me at every step in my doctoral program. He is easily accessible, not only for research suggestions, but also for emotional support and mental well-being.
KUMAR: I always feel that I learn every day working with doctoral students. Samayita is no exception. In fact, she has a unique way to deal with new problems and challenges. She never hesitates in challenging my opinions and views.
GUHA: He very patiently showed me how to position a paper and shared many thoughts about how to publish in reputed academic journals of our field. Professor Kumar helped me to gather the finer understandings and nuances of academic communication, which will put me on a stronger foundation for my independent research career.
KUMAR: Even though Samayita is just finishing her third year, she has already published a paper in a top journal. It was really inspiring to work with her on that project.
GUHA: My biggest takeaway from my interactions with Professor Kumar is that the fields of business research are strongly interconnected. It will help me in my future career to broaden my horizons by not limiting myself to narrow domains.
KUMAR: As a mentor, I not only try to make sure that the student becomes very successful in her/his career in both the short and long term, but I also attempt to ensure that the student enjoys the process. This can happen only when we treat each student differently—based on her/his style and capabilities—and with respect.
Dominick Peake and Anthony Seeton
WHEN DOMINICK PEAKE, BBA ’21, began working for Anthony Seeton, professor in the Department of Strategic Management, he gained an attentive supervisor and a mentor. In the summer of 2019, Peake took on the role of project administrator for the Fox Strategic Planning Task Force, working directly with Seeton, managing director of strategic planning.
Peake says, “I have had some informal and some formal mentoring relationships, but nothing as closely related to my major and profession as this one, and probably nothing as in-depth as this one either.”
SEETON: Through informal conversations, I got to know more about Dom, his family, his interests, his history and his aspirations. Mutual trust developed to a point where he was open to and invited my input into various areas of his life; as well as tolerating some occasional, unsolicited input.
PEAKE: Tony was never hesitant to share
constructive criticisms, and I cannot thank him enough for that. He challenged my thinking and helped me improve it.
SEETON: One of the biggest lessons I have learned as both a mentor and mentee is that you don’t know what you don’t know, so remain humble. Whether you are the smartest person in the room or not, humility will always net a better result. As a leader, this is an incredibly powerful lesson to learn.
PEAKE: We also worked well together, as he had the end vision and goal of what we were going to accomplish, and I would step in with the how, logistically, we were going to accomplish it. His taking the time out to thoroughly explain in detail benefited not only the project we were working on but also my knowledge and skill of problem-solving and creative thinking.
SEETON: Mentorship is the acknowledgment that we are not alone in the world. Ask anyone who has had a positive mentor/mentee relationship, and I am sure they will agree that just knowing there is someone out there who has your back can make the world a much less intimidating place.
PEAKE: I am a huge advocate for students getting experience not only in the classroom but outside of it. Having a mentor can be that first step you need to push yourself into learning more. I’ve always welcomed learning new things, and Tony has a lot of industry experience, interpersonal skills and general knowledge that he has taught me throughout our mentorship.
SEETON: My personal mission statement simply reads, “Ensuring others’ success.” Mentorship gives you a front row seat from which to both coach and witness that transformation in others.