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How Lisa McGraw Made the Most of Mentorship

Lisa McGraw, a Retail Banking Director for the Upper Mid-Atlantic region and a 33-year Citizens veteran, recently shared in her own words what it means to have a mentor and be a mentor. 

“Someone took a chance on me. And I feel a serious commitment to return that.”​​​​​​​

When I was young in my career, I was very ambitious. I would not call myself ‘professionally patient.’ I selected a mentor whose leadership style was so different from mine. I felt like I could learn from her and she could learn from me. As our relationship progressed, I shared with her my ambitious career path. And to this day, I will never forget what she said to me: “Let me tell you the two reasons why you’re not ready for your next step.” She gave very fact-based, objective reasons but then she asked me really thought-provoking follow-up questions. She asked me about what kind of real, hands-on experience I had, and what it was that made me so sure I was ready, and how I thought I compared to other people with more experience.

But our conversation closed out on such a positive note because she reinforced for me specific tips and tactics that I could do almost immediately that would help me get to my end goal. The whole experience taught me what it means to self-discover, and I’m forever changed because of it.

“You have to hustle to make this a great place to work – to make this great place work for you.”

I also learned along the way that it’s important to find the right mentor. Know what you want for yourself and be able to articulate that. Then work with someone who has experience in that space, someone you admire and someone you trust to challenge you and support your growth. And if it’s not working, it’s ok to admit that too. The big thing here is to not wait for a mentor to find you – you’ve got to go seek someone out. Take control of your destiny and what happens in your career. 

“I was pushed out of my comfort zone.”

What has helped me over my career is being open to different opportunities. I love people, I love coaching, I love the relationships I establish with my colleagues.  But sometimes to grow you have to take on a different experience that puts you out of your comfort zone. I listened to a mentor who pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m not going to sugar coat this: it was tough. But when I came back to the job I always loved, I came back better. So the story here is this: you have to accept those challenges, take those risks and be willing to open yourself up to change. Because I’ve done this, I show up as my best self every day. And that feels amazing. 

Make mentorship happen for you:

Want to find a mentor? Here are some considerations to think through before you move forward. And don't miss our complete list of resources on the right-hand side.

1. Not everyone needs a mentor. And sometimes you may just need a mentor to support you for a short period of time. Do you want to:

  • Make a career change?

  • Improve your leadership skills?  

  • Broaden your exposure to another business line?  

  • Work on feedback? 

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then finding a mentor could be right for you.

2. Go out and meet people. Share your intentions with your manager so they can support you. (There are often localized mentorship opportunities that you may be able to plug into.) Then, get out there and meet people. Join a BRG. Sign up for Let’s Connects. Attend a Learning Live sessions on the Citizens Learning Hub. As your schedule permits, show up in person to All Hands and team networking events. The more exposure you have to colleagues across the organization, the easier it will be to find someone who has the experience that matches where you’d like to grow.  

3. Make the ask. When you find a possible mentor, be specific about your expectations. Talk about why you think that person would make an ideal mentor to you, and what your engagement model would look like together. (By engagement model, this means do you meet in person? On the phone? For how often? When does the mentor/mentee relationship conclude?) And of course, offer what you think the mentor can get out of the relationship, too. After all, even mentor/mentee relationships are intended to be mutually beneficial!   

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