Tom Cooper has always believed in the importance of business mentors. After all, he still follows the advice of his own mentor years later, even though he’s since evolved from entrepreneur to consultant, investor and Associate Professor in Strategy in Memorial University’s Faculty of Business Administration.
Tom has had many mentors over the years, some of whom he still turns to for advice. He has also become an accomplished mentor himself, with three formal mentoring relationships through Futurpreneur Canada under his belt, as well as a number of informal roles with entrepreneurs.
Seeing the impact mentorship can make on a professional, no matter what stage they’re at in their career, is the reason that when Tom was first asked to become a mentor, his answer was a resounding “yes”. “I’m in a privileged position now where I can offer some insights and more importantly just listen to the problems, concerns, and experiences entrepreneurs are going through,” Tom shared.
Being a mentor to young entrepreneurs has many rewarding moments, but Tom explained that he loves when he gives advice and sees it work. Tom said that he also gets a lot of personal satisfaction by being able to make connections with others. “I definitely don’t know everything and finding the people who can answer questions, provide better advice than me, or just take entrepreneurs to the next level gives me a lot of satisfaction.” Tom explained that mentoring doesn’t have to take a lot of your time, and not only is it a way of giving back, but it also has a lot of mutual benefits for both the mentee and mentor.
In 2015, Tom was a finalist for the BDC Mentorship Award which honours a Canadian mentor for their hard work, contributions and dedication to business mentoring. “Being nominated for the national award was a really rewarding moment,” Tom said. “I felt that I had won just by being nominated—especially when I saw the quality of the candidates I was nominated with.”
Tom encourages other mentors to apply for the BDC Mentorship Award (or for entrepreneurs to nominate their mentor), as not only is it an honour to be selected as a finalist, but it also encourages other people to become or seek out mentors.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada