The benefits of mentoring—for companies, mentees, and mentors

04 May 2021 · 4 min read
Donnica Hawes-Saunders, PMI’s Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, on the transformative power of mentorship.
Donnica Hawes Saunders, senior manager, global strategic partnerships and civil engagement

Written by

Donnica Hawes-Saunders, Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, PMI


I’ve been fortunate to have amazing mentors throughout my career. Each one has played a significant role in guidance, motivation, and role-modeling. Some of my mentoring relationships have formed organically, and others through formal programs. Through this lens, at the beginning of 2020, I created PMI Global Services’ first internship/mentorship program for our business affiliate in the U.S.

PMI’s internship/mentorship program in our U.S. affiliate

This program is run through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the largest organization in the U.S. exclusively representing the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) community. These institutions have a specific connection to history, culture, programming, and networking that has resulted in an extraordinary list of alumni.

Martin Luther King, Spike Lee, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Jessie Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall—the namesake of our organizational partner—are just a few of the names inside this HBCU network.

PMI’s Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Internship is about bringing people together based on the principles of respect for diversity and passion for transformative change. To date, every intern that has gone through the TMCF Internship for our U.S. affiliate has landed a full-time job at a global company. This speaks not only to the quality of our program, but also to the power of centering mentorship in internships.

Mentoring is a central part of this internship because we know it benefits both mentee and mentor. Companies running mentorship programs tend to have employees that feel more valued and have increased job satisfaction, productivity, and retention. In short, mentors can help accelerate careers.

Mentoring as a driver of progress

No mentor-mentee relationship is the same. It’s dependent on the goals unique to the individuals involved. And, these goals often change over time. Here are some key learnings from my mentoring journey:

  1. Listening is key: Sometimes, mentors mistake hearing for listening. Active listening promotes trust and respect, helps resolve problems, and promotes a better understanding of people.
  2. Mentorship is a two-way street: Being a mentor offers so much more than simply feeling good about helping others. You develop strong leadership skills, gain new perspectives, and the lessons you share can remind you to follow your own advice.
  3. Mentoring interns is extremely valuable: This is your opportunity to support new talent, while further strengthening your network and building leadership capabilities.
  4. Pay it forward: As a mentor, remember to pay it forward throughout your career. Take new talent for coffee or offer yourself as a mentor to a bright young star. There are so many ways that you can offer support to others.

Mentorships: A long-term investment

Mentorships can create really enriching relationships that evolve and last over time. Many of the mentees I’ve worked with in the past are now in corporations, nonprofits, or running for local or state government. We’re still connected. That’s the benefit of playing out mentorships over the longer term.

I believe a part of professional responsibility is helping others, and the data shows that mentorships drive progress for companies, internally and externally. PMI, through its U.S. affiliate, is leveraging this tool in a meaningful, authentic, and impactful way. With mentorship, we can achieve our corporate goals more quickly—delivering a smoke-free future by developing better alternatives for those adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke.

Top photo posed by models. © Getty Images