Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why mentors matter

Financial services exec shares 20 years of experience with mentee

Just a few short weeks into her new position at UBS — a big promotion for the 28-year-old — Elizabeth Sieghardt called her long-time mentor Ellen Pierce for a chat.

They talked about the new job, how the transition was going, and — as it turns out — a big idea for Elizabeth to gain traction with her new employees.

Pierce, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director at UBS Financial Services, suggested that Sieghardt bring in an ice cream truck one afternoon for her staff. The move, she said, would help develop morale and build her new team.

It worked, Sieghardt said. The ice cream was a hit.

Pierce, who is at the top of her field, is one of few women in the C-suite in the financial services industry.

She said about 1 percent of senior leadership at top financial companies are female.

In fact, Sieghardt says that Pierce was the first woman she worked for in the field. The two met about two years ago when Sieghardt was working in the Baltimore office, where Pierce is based.

Sieghardt joined the Vermont office in June as executive director and branch manager at UBS Wealth Management.

“Ellen has really helped guide me and taught me the balance between my work and personal life,” Sieghardt said. “She says, ‘You have to take time for you.”

Likewise, Pierce says she has learned from Sieghardt.

“After 20 years doing this, I learn from her vitality and fresh ideas,” Pierce said. “I trust her enough to help me see something from a different angle.”

Pierce has been the managing director and regional director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of her company for more than a decade.

And, as she rose to the top of her field, Pierce said she has mentored many women along the way.

She stresses the importance for professionals — particularly women — to have an advocate.

“In my life I have both been a mentor and a mentee. Part of the reason it’s important to me to empower women in business is I was once of the receiving end of that same encouragement. So many friends and colleagues supported me from the very beginning. Fourteen years later, my business has grown tremendously and I have wonderful clients and staff — many women — for whom I’ll always advocate!” – Barb Clapp, President & CEO, Clapp Communications

“As a long-time member of Network 2000 and current President of the organization

I am deeply involved with their mentoring program having served as co-chair of the program and a mentor for a number of women in mid-management positions. An important part of the mission of Network 2000 is to prepare women to move up the corporate ladder to the C- Suite and to board positions. I passionately advocate for successful women to bring other women along by serving as role models and mentors. Women helping other women to succeed is what mentoring is all about. It helps us move the needle by leaps and bounds!” – Traci Barnett, President & CEO, National Kidney Foundation of Maryland and President of Network 2000

“I have been a mentor and a mentee on several occasions in my professional journey, and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, those experiences have provided critical lifelines for me. As a mentor, I am absolutely intentional about providing relevant and requested information, serving as a sounding board and being a connector to social capital to expand their horizon and increase their access. As an African-American woman, because of the limitations naturally built into society, I am clear about the necessity of providing access to an expanded pool of relationships and knowledge that may not naturally be available for women, and black women specifically. In the world of leadership/ownership/running a business of any type, you are often confronted with challenges and experiences that can significantly help or hinder the organization/business and, you often have no idea of what you do not know. Having access to a trusted and experienced voice is priceless.” – Diane Bell-McKoy, President & CEO, Associated Black Charities

“I never had a mentor, but always wanted one. It seemed like the people I knew who had mentors had an easier time meeting new people, networking, learning the ropes, and getting new positions. I had to find my own way, as do so many other women in business and law.   That’s why I’ve made it a priority in my life to be a mentor and, hopefully, make the journey for other young professionals a little easier.” – Karen L. Cook, J.D., Dean, School of Business and Law, Anne Arundel Community College & former Chief Administrative Officer, Anne Arundel County

“Every day, I feel inspired and energized by the goals, aspirations and accomplishments of other women around me. It’s important to build relationships with other successful women, young and old, who recognize your potential and take as much pride in your success as you do. What I love about my mentor is that she’s not afraid to give me an honest answer to some tough questions, and her only agenda is to help me reach my fullest potential. When I mentor other women, I drive them to take pride in what they do and not be ashamed for wanting to grow or be a leader, because I’m confident they can be. When you give, you get. Helping other up-and-coming women feeds my spirit and drives my own creative energy and determination for their growth and mine.” – Bridget Forney, Public Relations Manager, Roland Park Place

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.