When Ranil Mendis immigrated to Canada in 1987, there was nothing like The Mentoring Partnership in place. He came with significant qualifications and experience, but it wasn’t translating well with employers in Canada. “I ended up doing very very junior roles,” he says. A clerk job with the City of Toronto, however, was the entry he needed: within eighteen months of arriving in Canada, he was working with the City of Toronto in his field, accounting.
When he first heard about The Mentoring Partnership, back when it first began, he thought: “This is a great way to give something back to the folks who are coming now.” Nine years later, Ranil has mentored over 10 mentees through TMP, and he has no plans to slow down.
“I have mentored people from Singapore, China, Jamaica, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bangladesh,” he says. “They’ve all had different stories and work experiences.” Because of that diversity, Ranil takes away valuable learning from each mentoring relationship—not only about the home countries and work cultures of his mentees, but about international accounting standards and processes. “There’s so much happening these days in the accounting industry,” he says. Mentoring newcomers keeps him current and ahead of the curve.
And even as he introduces his mentees to his own connections, the varied backgrounds of his mentees ensure that Ranil’s own network grows in unexpected ways. “They open up different avenues for me, personally, to get to know other people. There are many instances where my mentees have introduced me to other community things that I do.”
Learning is not Ranil’s only reason for coming back to mentoring again and again. It’s also about the feeling of satisfaction when a mentee succeeds. Knowing that an introduction you made led to a life-changing experience for a newcomer is a singular achievement. “It gives you satisfaction that money cannot buy.”
While each of his mentees is different from the last, Ranil uses the same technique to break the ice at their initial meeting: he looks for a passion that he and his mentee share. Oftentimes, it’s cricket! This common discovery early on provides both of them with a foundation of mutual understanding, and contributes to the strength of their mentoring relationship going forward.
Ranil advises his mentees to have patience and persistence. “I know it is frustrating,” he says. The job search is rarely a quick process. But Ranil can point to the successes of his previous mentees when he says, “It’s just a matter of time. The more you put into it, the better results you will get.”
For mentors, Ranil knows they don’t need to hear about the benefits of mentoring—they’ve experienced it already. “You have realized the potential and the value that it brings, the contribution that it makes, how you personally are rewarded immensely,” he said. “You may have done it once, twice, three times—the more the merrier! The more mentees that you meet, the more you learn, so keep coming back to the program every year. You will be rewarded for that.”