Loyola Magazine

Mentoring the Greyhounds

MBA graduate brings new life to Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program

Imagine having access to a career consultant you were matched with personally, someone who could mentor you one-on-one and help you define and pursue your professional goals while you finish your degree.

At Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, this is exactly what graduate students can expect as part of their experience.

The Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program pairs a current MBA student with an MBA graduate who offers insight and guidance and serves as an industry expert for a six-month period during the current student’s master’s program.

For students, having a mentor is like having a personal career consultant, explained Susan McCarthy, Sellinger graduate and president of Classic Forms and Design. Classic Forms and Design is a promotional products corporation.

McCarthy, a Loyola graduate, revamped the Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program in 2016 by implementing a strategic plan, fresh marketing, and a new website. The hard work paid off. In the first year, the program had 48 people—including current students and alumni—meeting McCarthy’s three-year goal during its first year.

McCarthy described her efforts as putting her heart and soul into this program to give back to her alma mater. After receiving her bachelor’s degrees in both marketing and finance, McCarthy went on to complete two master’s degrees from Loyola in 1990, one in marketing and one in finance.

She believes in what the Sellinger School teaches and the power of networking.

Mentoring gives Sellinger alumni the opportunity to stay connected to the University and counsel a student through the program. Matthew Bernard, ’99, a director at Deutsche Bank and current mentor, wanted to give back to Sellinger—a school that’s been good to him after his MBA. Bernard found his career through networking, and said he hopes he can help current students do the same by being a mentor in the program.

The pairs can tailor communication to fit their needs and their schedules; they can talk via phone, Skype, email, or in-person.

The personal touch of the mentoring program makes Sellinger stand out among other business schools in the area, McCarthy said. And she goes above and beyond to make sure each pairing is perfect.

McCarthy plays matchmaker, personally interviewing each student and graduate to ensure the best matches according to the individuals’ experiences, backgrounds, and future career aspirations. She asks questions, such as why they are getting or earned their MBA and what they want to accomplish, to ensure each match is beneficial.

Micah Brown, president of East Coast Fresh, was drawn to the program when he started his MBA in spring 2016 because of his prior career mentors.

“I owe a lot of my success to the mentors I’ve had in my life to date. I jumped at the opportunity to participate in a program that offers access to dynamic leaders who will only help me to continue down a successful path,” Brown said.

Thus far, Brown’s mentor, Adrian Johnson, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Municipal Employees Credit Union (MECU) in Baltimore, has helped Brown see different points of view in the day-to-day dealings of his own business.

Johnson, ’97, believes in the importance of servant leadership. Serving as a mentor in the program is a way to give back to the next generation of business leaders, he said. Johnson hopes the students gain wisdom from their mentors—many of whom are veterans in their field.

As Brown says, “Surround yourself with successful people and chances are you’ll become successful yourself.”

Brown hopes to complete his MBA in 2019.

Jeffrey Zwillenberg, executive director of Reading Partners and a current Executive MBA student, was interested in the mentoring program to complement and expand on what he was learning in the classroom.

“I’ve learned that there are many ways to achieve the same goal. As a career non-profit professional, my experiences have tended to have a certain flavor. My mentor, Jo Scharmann, chief financial officer of United Way Colorado, however, entered the non-profit world from the finance and corporate world,” Zwillenberg said.

“This frame is an added and much appreciated perspective that can help me better navigate in my current position, as well as think more creatively about how to achieve my goals.”

His mentor, Scharmann, MBA ’88, has also benefited from being a mentor.

“For me, it’s been the chance to spend time and learn from very talented professionals who want to be great leaders. It makes me more aware of my own leadership—and self-awareness is always a good thing for a leader.”

Learn more about participating as a mentor or a protégé in the Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program.