New Mentorship Program Points Students the Way
Program matches business leaders with top business students.
As dean of SUNY Brockport’s School of Business and Management, Joy Bhadury meets regularly with two advisory boards.
One group is comprised of business leaders who offer guidance as it relates to strategy, curriculum, and the needs of the business community — both now and into the future. The other consists of student leaders who provide feedback about the School and offer a student’s perspective.
Separately, they make a significant impact. But what if the two groups came together as part of a mentorship program?
“Our students had expressed a desire to be mentored directly by business leaders,” said Bhadury. “Our faculty feel that such mentoring has the potential to significantly enhance the educational experience of our students.”
Katie Stone couldn’t agree more.
“Having a mentor to help guide you professionally but also help you personally…is just so important,” said Stone, a senior business administration major.
In Kerry Bandis ’86, Stone says she has found just that.
Bandis and Stone were among the first to be paired together as part of the School of Business and Management’s Mentorship Program, which is being piloted this spring. The two speak weekly, by phone, for nearly an hour at a time. They’ve even met twice in person — no easy feat, as Bandis serves as senior vice president for US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management and lives in Charlotte, NC.
“It’s difficult to find the time, that is for sure. But from the beginning we both committed to putting it on the calendar and adhering to it. Any of the other life noise has to go away,” Bandis said.
Bandis is committed to providing Stone with a resource she didn’t have as she was beginning her career in the banking industry — a time where she had very few female colleagues.
“It was very challenging…. As a result, I want to get some of those challenges out of the way for Katie and others that I’m mentoring and allow them to elevate themselves,” Bandis said. “I also want to give them a sounding board.”
Her presence has already made a significant impact on Stone. Before a recent conversation, Stone had a difficult time concentrating on anything other than her honors thesis, which she would be presenting during Scholars Day. She was nervous about it — until she spoke with Bandis.
“It was so nice to hear how confident she was in me. We had only been talking for a month and a half. She knows me, but she doesn’t know me super well yet,” Stone said. “It was great to hear that she was confident in my abilities when I wasn’t as confident.
“I always look forward to our Tuesday calls. They are a bright spot in my week. It’s nice to have something to look forward to and have someone on the other line who is just there to support you and wants the best for you.”
While Stone is set to graduate this month (she plans to pursue an MBA at SUNY Binghamton), neither sees the relationship they’ve built ending anytime soon.
“I’m so thankful that we have this open dialogue where we’re sharing some very personal stories of challenge and triumph,” Bandis said. “I’m just so pleased to see that this relationship has worked out as well as it has, because I think this is going to be a lifetime relationship. That’s the most satisfactory thing for me because I’m going to be able to see her grow into a great career and a wonderful life.”