“Look for your North Star.” “Chase success rather than run from failure.” “Success typically includes failure.” These are just a few of the drops of wisdom that Kenan Scholars program mentors shared at the year’s first mentor panel discussion.
On Oct. 11, 2019 four mentors – Chapel Hill Town Council member Allen Buansi, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Dick Blackburn, IQVIA Global Solutions manager Thomas DeSena and Acorn home care services president Lorenzo Mejia – shared their personal business experiences and connected with junior Kenan Scholars.
Panel moderator and scholar Hidy Akila led the conversation, asking thoughtful questions such as “What makes you successful?” “What are some obstacles you’ve had to overcome?” and “How did you find your place in your career?”
Thomas DeSena talked about the confidence that comes from taking risks and how risk-taking in his professional life translated to his personal life. He said he got to his current position by realizing what he did not like, rather than by pursuing what he thought he liked.
Akila praised the panelists’ responses to tough questions, saying, “These mentors are important because they’re a source of unwavering support, unfiltered opinions and encouragement. They’re like-minded professionals that we can relate to. You can learn about the mistakes they made to prevent you from making the same ones, while simultaneously following the steps they took to get where they are today.”
Learning from mistakes and failure was a central theme. The mentors shared stories about their successes and failures and relayed examples of how trying new things led to their ultimate success.
Panelist Dick Blackburn said, “Success in any undertaking is the notion of people being resilient – resilient to try, resilient to learn and resilient to achieve their goals.”
“I think that at Kenan-Flagler, it’s easy to let failure – whether it’s in class or for professional matters – get us down,” said Akila. “Hearing from our mentors and learning how they used failures to build themselves up was inspiring to me.”
Mentors are an integral part of the Kenan Scholars program. Whether by giving life advice or making professional connections, the members of the Board of Mentors are available to support and guide Kenan Scholars throughout their journey at Kenan-Flagler and beyond.
“Hearing from our mentors and learning how they used failures to build themselves up was inspiring to me.”Hidy Akila , Kenan Scholar