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Mentorship program offers support to Ivey MBA women

Nov 12, 2020


L-R: Ajanta Sivanesparan, Janey Thwaites, and Alina Salemohamed from the MBA Women in Management Club.

While doing case contracting at Ivey this summer, Yimin Guo, MBA ’20, a Senior Consultant with KPMG, was inspired to create a mentorship program for women in the MBA program. Having received informal mentoring from an Ivey alumna as a student, she recognized the importance of guidance when choosing electives, selecting a career path, and prepping for job interviews. She found it particularly useful to have a woman’s perspective.

Guo, along with Dimpal Chetnani, MBA ’20, a consultant at Capco; Katie McNamara, MBA ’19, Associate at Hugessen Consulting; and Neneh Thapar, MBA ’19, Senior Consultant at Monitor Deloitte, have created the LIFT Mentorship Program. They worked in partnership with Ivey’s MBA Women in Management (WIM) Club, led by Janey Thwaites, Alina Salemohamed, and Ajanta Sivanesparan, all MBA ’21, to pair alumnae mentors with women in the current MBA class for ongoing support. More than 40 MBA alumnae from the 2020 and 2019 classes are volunteering as mentors, and the pairs meet once a month.

Chetnani said the goal of LIFT is to create an environment where women can support and lift each other up.

Women can be powerful allies for each other, whether at school or work. Through our shared lived experiences, we can help each other navigate and fight against the gender-based challenges that we face so often,” she said.

Guo said she and Chetnani came up with the idea after recalling how they had benefited from informal mentorship from alumnae from the 2019 class.

“We wanted to make it an organized program so that women in the current class can get some guidance and advice from people who recently went through the program,” she said. “The core spirit of the Ivey community is that we pay it forward. I received a lot of help while I was in the program so I want to give back in a structured way so more people can benefit from mentorship from the Ivey community.”

Advice for navigating the MBA program

The LIFT program kicked off with a virtual event this past summer after which mentors and mentees were paired. Since then the mentors and mentees have had monthly check-ins and there will also be quarterly virtual events on specific topics offered to the broader group. Although some of the discussions may be career-focused, especially during recruiting season, the mentors also offer advice on workplace issues and stress management. They’ll also share advice related to navigating Ivey’s MBA program.  

“Ivey does an amazing job of introducing you to career connections and there’s a lot of formal networking, but the opportunity to have a candid conversation with women who have been through the program recently is also valuable,” said Thapar. “LIFT focuses on how to navigate the program and on getting a perspective from someone who has been through it, in a low stakes way.”

Having previously worked in a female-dominated field, McNamara said, having benefited from female mentorship herself, she wanted to give back to the Ivey community.  

“There’s a lot of resilience-building in Ivey’s MBA program, which is fantastic, but it can be tough to go through alone,” she said. “Having access to an alumna who has been where you’ve been goes a long way in terms of feeling like you’re on a path that has been travelled before.”

Guo said the intention is that LIFT will carry on and extend to future MBA cohorts. She said she hopes that the program will lead to long-lasting relationships between Ivey’s MBA women past and present.

“We’re trying to focus on relationship-building,” she said. “Mentorship is not something that’s temporary or career-focused. It’s about forming long-term relationships.”

Meet the LIFT mentors

Thank you to all the LIFT mentors for getting involved. The current mentors include:

Shirin Ahmed, Sumbul Ahmed, Manoela Brito, Maria Katya Calapina, Crystal Chen, Dimpal Chetnani, Helette Conradie, Nikita Dadlani, Angela Espinas, Elizabeth Foody, Alisha Gautam, Yimin Guo, Nishita Hore, Ashley Jangkamolkulchai, Rabia Kamal, Naila Kassam, Alex Krolak, Jaclyn Longo Renders, Logan McGinn, Katie McNamara, Brooke Mikalachki, Lauren Miller, Poorna Murthy, Mansi Nanda, Aanchal Narula, Moneca Nicols, Sayra Olya, Samantha Pereira, Elizabeth Philp, Katherine Quan, Keyun Ren, Aakanksha Sabharwal, Amrita Singh, Kathleen Taylor, Neneh Thapar, Charmaine Uy, Pooja Wade, Lenore Wing-King, and Wenzhou Zhao.