Carolina was a mentee on the Mentoring Women in Business programme from 2019-2020.
Carolina Varzabetian, an entrepreneur and mentee from Argentina, and her mentor Beth from the USA, worked together on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme, in collaboration with Marsh & McLennan Companies, between November 2019 and November 2020. Following the conclusion of the programme, we caught up with them to find out about their experience.
When Beth’s employers, Marsh & McLennan Companies, gave her the opportunity to become a mentor on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in 2018, Beth saw an opportunity to make a difference from her own home.
Beth had a productive first match on the programme and upon graduation had only one thought on her mind: “My first experience was wonderful, so I signed up again.” In November 2019, she was matched with Carolina. A woman entrepreneur from Argentina, Carolina entered the programme hoping to expand her business, which helps promote entrepreneurship through online courses and mentoring.
Beth recalled, “What I saw from our initial conversations was that Carolina and I were both creatives at heart. There was an immediate sense of kinship.”
She ensured that her mentoring approach was grounded in understanding: “Hearing Carolina’s story was the first step. From there it’s about standing next to your mentee. Try and mirror them, use empathy to understand what it’s like for them. I knew I could be at my best if I could effectively help lift Carolina up.”
This approach of ‘standing next to each other’ had a profound effect on Carolina who recalled: “It meant I had a mentor to rely on; it was natural and Beth always inspired me to go further and better.” Carolina’s dedication to “go[ing] further and better” certainly impressed Beth, who explained: “She would set a deadline and she would just rock! She was amazing.”
These factors meant the relationship was founded on a trust and passion that grew into a close friendship. Beth revealed: “Our friendship meant that we had an extra connection, I had an investment in Carolina’s success.” For Beth this was essential to the overall relationship: “Sometimes the connection is more important than the immediate task.” Carolina felt the same: “During the year there were some challenges in my personal life that affected me; so having the support of Beth, as a human, not only as a mentor, helped me to keep working and trying.”
The relationship flourished over the year and Carolina’s business went from strength to strength. With Beth’s support, Carolina worked on marketing strategies, communication skills and content development.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, Carolina achieved her starting goals and hit her target revenue. Carolina reflects: “My revenues were great but not just that; achieving my goals made me feel confident about myself. I’m still using the techniques that Beth gave me to this day.” Beth says: “It was incredible that Carolina got so much work done during COVID, she managed to change her environment and showed great courage.”
Graduating in November, Beth is now awaiting her third year on the programme. Reflecting on the opportunity to be a mentor, she said: “I want to work for a company that has that sense of mission and purpose, so the fact that Marsh & McLennan Companies does things like this is important to me.. Global corporations can be a positive force to bringing people together to achieve shared goals and Marsh & McLennan Companies are doing this.”
The best mentoring relationships have reciprocal gains, and Beth found this to be true: “Seeing that your support has a positive effect it gives you confidence. When I get to use my skills where I feel I can actually change someone’s life for the better in a way that might not otherwise have occurred… that changes your sense of who you are in the world. The skills that you take for granted may be invaluable to someone else.”
Looking back at the relationship, Carolina said: “I started this programme with a mentor and I left with a friend. Beth had a holistic vision for the whole year; she was helpful, transparent, loving and inspiring.” And Beth: “One piece of advice I’d give to a new mentor is: be humble and remember that your first job to understand your mentee’s aspirations. And to a mentee I’d say ask for what you want. Ask for the help you need and remember that it’s a privilege for your mentor to get to work with you.”
Find out more about our Mentoring Women in Business programme
Mentoring Women in Business is one of the Foundation's three flagship programmes, which also include HerVenture and the Road to Growth. The programme matches women entrepreneurs from low and middle income countries with professionals of any gender anywhere in the world.
Discover more more women entrepreneurs' stories:
Yolanda and Ivette’s story: working together for mutual benefits
Yolanda Odida is the founder of Pure Purple in Nairobi, Kenya. She was matched with her mentor, DHL's Ivette Townshend, for a year of collaboration.
Esther & Jennifer’s story: a recipe for mentoring success
Esther Gathage is the owner of Herstee's Bespoke Cakes. She was matched with her mentor, DHL's Jennifer Thompson, for a year of collaboration.
Queen’s story: STEM is what changes the world
Queen Mokulubete shares her mentoring journey.