The Importance of Mentorship in the Professional Sphere

Strategy & Leadership


Learning the Ropes

To younger professionals, the early stages of a career can often feel quite daunting. It can be hard to know what direction to take, which people to network with, and what skills to invest in. However, ask any successful person what they credit for their accomplishments, and more often than not, they’ll tell you about the wonderful mentors who have guided them forward and always had their back. Read on to hear from local movers and shakers – as well as those who’ve mentored them – about how precious and invaluable the guidance of a seasoned individual can be when it comes to a career. 

(Above) Photo by Jess Harris at Creative Revolver

Mentee Colt Bailey and Mentor Reid Northcutt

Photo by Emily Pérez Long

Mentee: Colt Bailey (Right)

Broker Administration Representative, Unum

Mentor: Reid Northcutt (Left)

Senior Accounting & Finance Program Associate, Unum

“Reid was assigned to me through our Scholar Program. Having him as a mentor has been incredibly beneficial to me as a professional. He has helped me immensely in finding the career path I wish to pursue, as well as assisting me in making many connections and expanding my own knowledge and skills. Having a mentor has also been invaluable when it comes to career growth – it’s great having someone to point you in the right direction for success. I love always having someone to go to with questions. Even if he doesn’t have the answer right away, he’s always been willing to find it.” – Colt Bailey

“I’ve had a number of mentors in my career who helped steer and guide me my first years in the workforce, whether it’s dealing with challenging workplace dynamics, career development and growth opportunities, or considering a career path I hadn’t thought about. I wanted to be able to do that for someone else. As a CPA, I’ve had to think strategically about my career and how to transition from college to the working world. I’ve also changed jobs and had different roles within Unum, so I try to leverage my experiences and connections to help Colt meet his goals.” – Reid Northcutt

Mauldin & Jenkins ad

Mentee Torrey M. Feldman and Mentor Raven Austin

Photo by Rich Smith

Mentee: Torrey M. Feldman (Left)

Associate, Baker Donelson

Mentor: Raven Austin (Right)

Assistant District Attorney, Hamilton County District Attorney General’s Office

“Immediately upon meeting Raven, I knew that she had a wealth of knowledge and experience that I wanted to know more about. As fellow minority women practicing law in Chattanooga – Raven being African American and myself being Afro-Latina – I knew that she likely had already navigated some situations that I would like guidance on. I have so enjoyed having Raven as a mentor at this very early stage in my career. She encouraged me through bar prep, she’s helped get me plugged into the organizations that she’s a part of, and she’s become a great friend. But most special of all, Raven was among the few who were present at my swearing in, and she was one of the witnesses on my admissions affidavit. Having her as a mentor while I navigate this first year of practice has been invaluable. I am so thankful for her leadership, mentorship, and friendship.” – Torrey M. Feldman

“Law school doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be a lawyer, but having good mentors definitely will. When I look back over every big accomplishment in my life, my mentor was always there. Knowing there was someone in my corner who wasn’t family, who had no obligation to help me but gladly chose to walk with me through all the ups and downs, made each accomplishment even sweeter. I don’t consider myself Torrey’s mentor, but her friend. If cheering her on, supporting her rise as a young lawyer, and discussing what I’ve learned thus far as a lawyer makes me a mentor, it’s a title I’ll gladly take.” – Raven Austin

East Chattanooga Lumber ad

Mentee Stephanie Pack and Mentor Dolores Murphy

Photo by Rich Smith

Mentee: Stephanie Pack (Right)

Co-Owner, Monica’s Bridal

Mentor: Dolores Murphy (Left)

Previous Owner, Monica’s Bridal

“Dolores Murphy is half of the husband-wife duo who hired me at Monica’s Bridal over 20 years ago. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and driving forces in my career. I can’t take much credit for my work ethic, because I learned from her. Every day for almost 15 years, I watched her show up, set an example for her team, and put in any amount of work necessary for the store to run smoothly. In addition, she gracefully gives her all to her family, countless circles of friends, volunteer groups, and more. Dolores has always inspired me to give 100% when it counts and be willing to face every obstacle head-on. She is so amazing with people. Watching her in her element with the public was a lesson I didn’t even realize I was learning at the time, and it was so invaluable.” – Stephanie Pack

“Stephanie walked into Monica’s at the age of 19. I came to quickly understand Steph’s ability to sell gowns and befriend her brides. That is not teachable. A lot of the job is understanding your product and your relationship with all your manufacturers, and this was Steph at her best. Now, behind-the-scenes involves the crucial job of ordering, sometimes with changes, and always keeping your bride updated. This takes organizational skills. Steph mastered all of that, which led to her becoming our store manager, and today, she is the co-owner of Monica’s. You see, over the course of all those years, my mentee became a part of my family. I am so very proud of her.” – Dolores Murphy   

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse ad

Mentee Seth Shaver and Mentor Carter Garrett

Photo by Rich Smith

Mentee: Seth Shaver (Right)

Executive Vice President, Steam Logistics

Mentor: Carter Garrett (Left)

CCO, Trident Transport

“Having a mentor wasn’t really ever something that was planned for me or even on my radar as being critical to my success. Carter and I came together out of necessity. We didn’t know we needed each other until we needed each other. He was the wise owl who’d closed million-dollar deals, and I was the quiet caller who was eager to learn and make a name for myself. We realized within the first few weeks that the only way we’d get to where we wanted to be was by being honest with each other – brutally honest. We’ve worked for different companies for the last five years, but we’ve maintained an open line of communication and lean on each other often for perspective. I wouldn’t be the person I am now or recognize the opportunities I’ve had without Carter.” – Seth Shaver

“I did not set out to mentor Seth but needed his skill set and driven, determined mind to benefit our company. In doing so, I formed a binding, lasting relationship that helped both of us flourish. We took on the challenges of the freight world with grit and determination because we wanted to succeed. Together, we wanted to change our lives and those of our family members. We spent countless hours during normal workdays as well as many nights and weekends building our books of business for the mutual benefit of the company and ourselves. Exhibiting a relentless work ethic, Seth was an essential member of my team. There is no finer example of a true, loyal friend than Seth Shaver. I’ve come to trust him personally as well as professionally. Our trust and mutual respect were built on our foundation of hard work, and I’ve formed a lasting bond because I respect the man Seth is.” – Carter Garrett

Real Estate Partners Ad

Mentee DeJuan S. Jordan and Mentor Cathie Keegan

Photo by Jess Harris at Creative Revolver

Mentee: DeJuan S. Jordan (Left)

Director of Business Support, LAUNCH Chattanooga, & Owner of DSJ Coaching and Consulting

Mentor: Cathie Keegan (Right)

Former Account Manager, The Comdyn Group

“Cathie and I had an organic connection, and our mentoring relationship developed into a friendship quite naturally, which we have been intentional about maintaining through the years. Cathie nominated me to serve as a board member on the Chamber of Commerce East Ridge Council and the Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Board. After a year or so of us serving together on these boards, Cathie resigned. It wasn’t until after Cathie stepped down that I realized that she had been positioning and preparing me to step up the whole time. Her confidence in my abilities, her words of encouragement professionally, personally, and spiritually, and her pushing me to step out of my comfort zone have played a big part in the career path that I have chosen. Cathie and I have a genuine interest in the well-being of each other, in business as well as outside of it.” – DeJuan S. Jordan

“While serving on a Chamber Council board, I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Ternae Jordan Sr. At that time, he was opening Mt. Canaan Baptist Church and bringing encouraging change to the community where my husband and I also live. Pastor Jordan’s voice and influence were echoed by his daughter DeJuan in her passion and tireless efforts to change young people’s views of themselves and their importance of being a vital part of their community. DeJuan’s generous heart, passion to help others, and endless energy are a few reasons I knew she needed to be on the Chamber boards where she could continue growing her efforts to make a difference in our city. I have been blessed to have DeJuan and her family as neighbors and dear friends. She is a young woman whom I love and admire and with whom I share a desire to encourage others to do what God asks of each of us: to love one another.”  – Cathie Keegan

Mentee Rachel Nall and Mentor Dr. Linda Hill

Photo by Rich Smith

Mentee: Rachel Nall (Left)

Clinical Assistant Professor, UTC

Mentor: Dr. Linda Hill (Right)

Professor and Program Coordinator of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, UTC

“I am very fortunate to have met Dr. Hill five years ago as a student in the UTC Nurse Anesthesia program. Dr. Hill has mentored me as a nurse and an educator. I am honored to work with her now in educating future Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Through her mentorship, I have learned not only the knowledge and skills it takes to be a CRNA, but also how to teach others. She inspires me in her dedication to students and the patients they serve, as well as her leadership in nursing research and advocacy for our profession.” – Rachel Nall

“Many different people along my professional pathways in nurse anesthesia and academia believed in my potential for success. Each was a strong mentor at varying stages of my life and career in every sense of the word. It was not an assignment for them. Their challenges, guidance, encouragement, and support were simply a natural part of their fiber. The impacts on my life are immeasurable. I strive to emulate their mentoring qualities with hopes that I, too, will inspire outstanding achievements in my students’ and colleagues’ lives.” – Dr. Linda Hill

Point Property ad

Mentee Ken Jones and Mentor Allen Clare

Photo by Emily Pérez Long

Mentee: Ken Jones (Right)

Director of Procurement and Vendor Relations, EPB

Mentor: Allen Clare (Left)

Vice President of River and Resources Stewardship, TVA

“Mentorship is an important role for both personal and professional development. I have realized the critical nature of having someone guide you through the journey of life. When I met Allen, I asked him if I could pick his brain. He accepted with no hesitation, despite his busy and demanding schedule. We talk about leadership concepts, building relations, industry trends, strategic planning, and a host of other topics. One of the things I like best about Allen is the fact that he shoots at me straight. He does not tell me what I want to hear or what he thinks I want to hear. If I state something that does not align, he will let me know. He uses his experiences to teach me valuable lessons. I can honestly say that I have used his guidance in my career, and it is paying dividends. I appreciate his commitment to mentoring me, and I enjoy being a mentor to others.” – Ken Jones

“Being able to contribute to the development of promising future leaders such as Ken is a privilege. I believe in ‘paying it forward’ and am blessed to be in a position to be able to help others. Having been in a leadership position for a number of years, I see it as both a responsibility and an opportunity to provide encouragement and support, to give advice, and to share my personal experience. I would also say that learning and sharing go both ways, as I am both encouraged and inspired by my interactions with Ken and other working professionals in the Chattanooga area. It has truly been a pleasure to watch Ken grow professionally over the past few years. I am happy on his behalf for the opportunities that lie ahead.” – Allen Clare

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