Since the end of September when we kicked off our MDP projects it has been an exciting time. Though over the summer I had been leading our team of interns and a group of students who were working on the Buffalo Connect project, this opportunity was different because it was working with the program that had given me my start at M&T. My boss and I were co-sponsoring the project, but I was fortunate that she was letting me take on the responsibility of overall managing the project from the sponsor side.
I had learned so much from my project sponsors within M&T Securities during the program that I wanted to make sure that I could share my experience including lessons learned, best practices, things I wish I changed, etc. I also wanted to make sure they felt empowered to make project decisions just like my sponsors had empowered me and my group. With the MDP project on the sponsor side you have to walk the line of being over involved and not being involved at all (both of which happen, though I wish they didn’t). What was great about this project was it was a great way to think about the bank overall as a customer and helping the community (one of our core values).
I knew this would be my first real opportunity to test out how I could walk the line of being a mentor, peer and also a “manager”. Since I am only a year out from the program, it is definitely important to make sure that I don’t come across as a peer when you have to make tough decisions. But I also wanted them to be able to ask questions regarding my experience and know that things they were experiencing during the project, I had probably felt them too – after all in the grand scheme of things, outside of this project, I was their peer.
I am excited to see this group present in mid-February, but know we have a long way to go until that point. We have several practice sessions with unbiased audiences to get the team prepared for the “pressure” of the final presentation. In my opinion, all the practice sessions over the next month will really make the team feel at ease on presentation day and any question they get – they should be prepared for.
What I have learned through both coaching and leading this project from a sponsor side is that I love being a mentor (at least I think that is how I am perceived). It has affirmed that the role I want to play in life, whether it be formal manager or in-formal mentor to those around me, is just that – providing guidance to help others through life (fitting because my mom is a high school guidance counselor). I want to inspire others with my passion for everything I do. At Nichols, it is teaching my players that things won’t always go your way but how you overcome the adversity will ultimately make or break you. It is also about reminding them that outside the bubble of high school and Buffalo, people don’t necessarily care who your parents are – but your work ethic and the way you lead your life is what matters to people.
At work, it is showing people that passion is so crucial in your career. If you aren’t passionate about what you do it will feel like work. When you put your all into everything you do – you will ultimately be happy and things will come to you. Just like I said in the Interviewing Game – your first job shouldn’t necessarily be for the money you are going to make, it should make you happy and gives you experiences that you will carry with you throughout your career. Money doesn’t buy happiness, although it does buy houses, clothes, and material things. Finding something where you realize what you do matters to at least one person, now that is something.