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Mentoring Matters

As a member of AICPA’s Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee, I was asked to share a post about mentoring. We were encouraged to make it as short as “Without my mentor, _________ I would never have ________.”  Sounds easy, quick, check it off the list, right? Well, I’ve been pondering this long and hard.

I’ve been so blessed to have so many mentors in my life - family, friends, colleagues at work, in other state societies and the AICPA.  Singling out just one for this assignment was not easy. Without mentoring, I believe none of us can move forward well. We need people throughout our life to help us get out of our own way and sometimes, out of our own head.

I first experienced that kind of care when I was a young girl, very young.  

I started spending summers with my Aunt Mimi in Baton Rouge when I was three.  She was a stay at home wife, after working as a teacher and at Exxon (then Esso), but that didn’t mean she wasn’t working. She was a leader in her community and church.  She was a (very) proud LSU grad and stayed involved there too. But summer was a time she spent with her nieces and nephew, each of us taking our turn to experience her care. She had no children of her own, except us.

My older brother and younger sister were very accomplished in many things and still are.  I struggled to find my place. Mimi told me over and over again, for as long ago as I have memory, “You will find your spot and you will shine.”  She told me often enough, with sincere confidence and care, that I started to believe her and believe in myself.

I tried things, failed, and tried again, many times. Still do. In high school, I made the National Honor Society and made Mimi proud. In college, I made the Dean’s List and kept looking for “my spot”.  Then, 38 years ago I found it with MACPA, first in public relations and leading to my current role as COO with MACPA and our innovation affiliate, the Business Learning Institute.

Mimi told me many times over my career, “See, I told you so!”.  Most people don’t like to hear that but I treasure it, especially since she’s in heaven now.

Mentoring can start early and is important to continue throughout life. I’ve learned so much from my mentors, as well as those I mentor. Care enough to be honest and persistent in your counsel. Help them find their spot and shine. AICPA has a ton of resources and an online matching program for members to help you get started as a mentee and/or mentor and if you’re a member of MACPA, check out our program here.

Without my first mentor, Elaine Umphrey, I would never have believed in myself.

Now I am a “Mimi” (grandmother) of a three-year old granddaughter. Let the mentoring begin, because it matters.

How would you complete the sentence? Without my mentor ________ I would never have _______.



Jackie Brown