University of Toronto

Office of the Chancellor

Remarks at the annual Mentor Recognition Reception

Rose M. Patten, O.C., LL.D.

Chancellor, University of Toronto

February 2, 2020

Thank you so much, Andrew – such insightful remarks.

Good evening, everyone. It is my great pleasure to be a part of this wonderful gathering.

I am especially pleased for this opportunity to thank all of you who serve as mentors at the University of Toronto. Thanks also to the UTAA and Alumni Relations for organizing this event.

Listening to Andrew, speaking about the difference mentorship has made in his life, was so very inspiring. Andrew, your story affirms the importance of mentorship! – the value of knowledge transfer between generations, which contributes to individual success, and ultimately to institutional and societal success.

This is something of which I’m reminded again and again in my professional life, as I study and teach leadership, and as I advise and mentor CEOs and senior leaders across various sectors.

In fact, there is great unanimity about this in the business world. Today, most Fortune 500 companies endorse mentoring programs, in a big way. Best practices now call for at least 20 per cent of learning and development activities to be focused on mentoring. One survey found that CEOs and other leaders have at least one, if not more, mentors or advisors. I personally advise this.

The benefits for mentees are clear. It’s been found, for instance, that those who are mentored are five times more likely to be promoted than those without a mentor.

One of the great benefits to mentors is the feedback they receive, which leads to better self-awareness. We now know that a lack of self-awareness is one of the most common factors which cause leaders to struggle in their success.

Like all of us, they do have blind spots or biases, which can and do hinder success. Studies show that leaders who are self-aware, who adapt and adjust to change, are actually up to four times more successful than those who do not.

It seems that the act of mentoring helps us to look at ourselves from an outside perspective, and, as we advise others, it makes us question why we think the way we do and to question the factors that have shaped our outlook.

Clearly, mentorship makes a difference to all involved. I am sure many of you have found this in your own experience.

Here at U of T, it’s wonderful to see that alumni-student mentorship is so entrenched across the University of Toronto.

Our students have the opportunity to learn from our alumni, to absorb some of their life experiences and wisdom – both as they move through their academic journey and as they launch their careers. And our alumni get the chance to be recharged by our students, and to reflect thoughtfully on their own path.

In fact, mentoring is so fundamental to U of T’s identity that it is clearly aligned with all three of the University’s strategic priorities: leveraging our urban locations, strengthening our international partnerships, and rethinking undergraduate education.

And mentorship strengthens the bonds of the worldwide U of T community across generations, building on what it means to be an alumnus of this vital, global institution.

Thank you so much for what you have done and continue to do for our students. Thank you for contributing to this remarkable academic community. And thank you for the leadership example you set.