By Joanna Zhong, SVP, Asian Segment Strategy Leader, Wells Fargo
It’s been nearly one year since I joined Wells Fargo as the Asian Segment Strategy Lead and the one thing I am so grateful for is having great mentorship and guidance.
As a business professional of more than 14 years, I am fortunate to have a role where I work to develop new and creative ways to reach our diverse customer-base, particularly among our Asian consumers.
As someone who grew up in China and now lives in the U.S., I relate to the importance of seeing ourselves in the brands we love and enjoy in everyday life. From the food we eat and the shops we patronize to where we bank, it’s important that consumers can see themselves represented in a way that reflects their needs, values and experiences.
I am proud to work for a company that understands it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to connecting with diverse communities. Whether efforts are focused on housing, education, entrepreneurship and small business, wealth management, supplier diversity or other financial resources, I want the Asian community to know our approach to financial health is about helping them gain confidence in where they are and where they are going.
While having financial guidance is part of a thriving financial future, having a mentor is an important part of a thriving career. I have a strong sense of duty to give back to the next generation. As a mother of two children, I want to empower and encourage the next generation of Asian leaders to continue to follow their passions and find a pathway that’s right for them while staying true to their heritage. I am trilingual—I speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese. It is important to me that I have a space and an outlet to share my pride as a Chinese immigrant, personally and professionally, and create opportunities to highlight different aspects of the Asian experience to inspire future generations to live their dreams. That is why, as our youth continue to strive to meet their goals in life, I am a firm believer in personal and career mentorship.
Why is Mentorship Important?
Many of us want to be better at what we do. A mentor can provide valuable guidance that we may not find in our immediate circles. They can be instrumental in helping us grow personally and professionally, build a successful career and achieve our goals. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to have several mentors. I have benefited tremendously from their advice and guidance. In turn, I have also had the opportunity to pay it forward and offer mentorship to others. So what makes a great mentor? Here are the top three traits to look for in a mentor:
Provides Constructive Feedback
A good mentor is willing to provide concrete and constructive feedback in areas where mentees can grow the most, gain valuable information about themselves and learn how to use these insights to be successful in the field. I find this guidance extremely helpful. A mentor who can provide candid feedback can be key to overcoming some of the challenges women face, in particular, in the corporate world such as lack of self-promotion and advocating for yourself.
Willingness to Share Knowledge and Expertise
Knowledge-sharing is incredibly important when developing mentor relationships. Navigating career challenges by sharing insights with your mentors’ own professional experiences can provide you with real world knowledge on how to advance your career.
Help Expand Your Professional Network
A mentor can expand your network of contacts and business acquaintances. A broader network can open doors, create new introductions, and connect you to influential people in your field. For this reason and more, I am proud to work for Wells Fargo because of the opportunities I’ve been afforded to grow my expertise and my network. I had the opportunity, for example, to participate in a unique leadership development program offered by Wells Fargo. Our Diverse Leader Programs offer U.S. team members who have self-identified as Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Latino, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender, veteran, and people with diverse abilities, a tailored learning environment with networking opportunities with top executives and other team members who share the same program-specific diversity dimensions. Wells Fargo values diversity as much as I do, and it’s reflected in every aspect of our company. A talented and diverse workforce provides an opportunity to build your professional network and develop positive working relationships that you may not have had the chance to meet otherwise.
In conclusion, I’d like to offer a final piece of advice I would give to young professionals, especially Asian Americans: don’t be afraid of seeking out mentorship. Find someone you aspire to be like and reach out to them. Engage someone with the expertise, personal characteristics, and strengths that can help support and guide you in the areas that need improvement.
In the end, it is about making the effort and commitment to build positive and reciprocal relationships through mentorship that can benefit the mentor and the mentee. I can personally attest that the lessons, connections, and opportunities mentors provide are invaluable.