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Three people every woman needs to succeed in her career


In the realm of accelerating your career growth there are three people every woman needs to succeed in her career, namely, a mentor, a sponsor and a coach.The role of a mentor in all spheres of life cannot be underplayed.  A mentor plays a critical role of being a trusted advisor to their mentee. The mentor must have experience, characteristics, exposure or achievements that the mentee wishes to emulate. The key to a successful mentor and mentee relationship is chemistry. It has been my experience that for it to work well, like any other relationship, it must be organic. I know the current trend of asking strangers to mentor is rife. However, we don’t walk up to people we don’t know or write them laborious direct texts as to how we think they are amazing and we would love to befriend them. Yet somehow this has become socially acceptable when we ask for mentorship.

We often think that mentors must be at an aspirational position and far removed from our level; we would only be doing ourselves a disservice by thinking that, because, there are mentors for various stages in our careers. And a good starting point is to get a mentor who can help guide you to your next career stage.

When looking for a mentor, one needs honesty in intentions and outlooks. You have to keep your expectations realistic, as we often have delusions that by entering into mentorship, the mentor’s expertise, experience and networks will transfer via osmosis to the mentee. As a mentee, the onus is on you to drive the engagement; be clear about the lessons and skills you would like to acquire; leveraging your mentor’s experience to leapfrog your growth; and be open to the process of mentorship. It is imperative you select someone whom you respect, trust and whose point of view will greatly enrich your career.


A sponsor relationship is fundamentally unique in that it cannot be solicited – it is earned. A sponsor is an ambassador for your career. In your absence your sponsor will actively advocate for you, invest in your growth; they will put your name forward for opportunities and sing your praises. Most sponsors are seniors in your organisation and industry.

A sponsor relationship is one of the most challenging connections to cultivate.This relationship is built on rapport you establish with your sponsor, the reputation earned by your work ethic and the ability to connect. Your sponsor may not guide you or share their personal experiences to fast-track the steep learning curve that is associated with growing your career. However, a great sponsor can identify good opportunities that will lead to promotion, exposure and the expanded growth of your career. After identifying these, your sponsor works to not only connect you with these opportunities, but advocate for you to be given those.

To be able to develop a relationship that could bud into sponsorship, it is critical to network within your organization and industry. You must endeavour to set a level of excellence in your work, integrity in your brand and develop a widely respected reputation.

A coach unlike a sponsor or mentor ordinarily has no relationship with you prior to you seeking out their professional services. They are an objective expert in their field who aid people in achieving their goals through psychological techniques, inner reflection and training.So a coach has often helped many people in a specific industry or career level and unlike a mentor doesn’t solely draw on their experience. A coach in essence allows for the sharing of best practice with you as a client and helps you achieve a set goal through a series of coaching sessions.

A mentor, a sponsor and a coach are three invaluable prongs in the fork to success in your career! Vumi Msweli is a South African born career coach, international speaker and the CEO hief for Hesed Consulting, a firm specialising in commerce acceleration, career coaching, women empowerment, facilitation and training on the African continent

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Vumi Msweli
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