Cultivating a Personal Boardroom

By Jason Khoo, senior director, Global Supply Chain

August 19, 2021

During my early working days, I distinctly remember sitting at my desk reflecting over a mistake I made during a team project. In hindsight, it was nothing that could not be remedied – but the weight of responsibility felt heavy on my shoulders. Sensing my frustration, my astute operations director at the time reached out. His words- “If you think that you alone caused the problem, then you think too highly of yourself” have stayed with me ever since. His guidance in that situation, and in countless others when I have turned to him, is why I wholeheartedly believe in the power of mentorship and investing time into making sure you are surrounding yourself with a few people who can truly help you succeed.

Whilst advocating strongly for mentoring in my organization and actively encouraging my colleagues to take part in programs available to them, I don’t believe that a mentor/mentee relationship always needs to be a formal situation. Some of the best advice I’ve been given has come during a coffee catch up with a colleague in the office pantry rather than a scheduled meeting. When I think of mentorship and the type of people I’d like to learn from, I veer towards the ‘Personal Boardroom’ concept. I think there are roles for a variety of influential relationships in a professional setting and I like the diversity of thought that comes from seeking out mentors with distinct roles.

I like to mentor a variety of people, but before I commit, I like to feel that I can truly add value to their professional journey. Time is a precious commodity and I feel better knowing that I am helping my mentees use theirs wisely.  I have been lucky to forge long-standing relationships where my contribution has varied, and I’ve really enjoyed watching my mentees thrive as their needs from a mentor has evolved.  

In thinking about my Boardroom, I have always been clear that the advice I’m looking for doesn’t always come from my seniors with years more experience than me. Sometimes it is about challenging yourself by talking to interns in the office too. We may label this ‘reverse mentoring’, but I am forever grateful to all of those who have taken the time to guide me through the nuances of Clubhouse rooms, Instagram reels and even TikTok. If you don’t have a digital expert in your network, I strongly urge you to have a coffee with the many ‘digital natives’ that I’m sure exist in your workplace! I may not be an avid user of any of the platforms, but their tips and tricks have been valuable in reminding me to keep our end user in mind, be it the surgeon, the patient, or their caregivers.

Of course, I’m aware of how fortunate I am to be a part of an organization that proactively advocates the benefits of shared experiences and learning opportunities. I am very proud of the commitment that Boston Scientific and my colleagues are putting into making sure support is there for anyone who needs it, in all shapes and forms.

In an organization as large as ours, it’s also a privilege to be able to seek counsel from such a broad array of people. In my experience, whilst it’s often been most beneficial to have some common experiences, your horizons are expanded by people with a different point of view to you.

Without the great mentors I have been fortunate to be guided by during my career, I’m sure there are opportunities I may have missed, a solution to a challenge I wouldn’t have found (or even looked for). I am grateful for them giving their time to give me new perspectives, encouraging me to try new things at the right speed- I’ve been pushed at a pace that was at once both comfortable and stretching. I’m particularly grateful to one mentor who, when consulting him on my career path, reminded me that while change can be daunting, “don’t under-estimate the risk of staying where you are.” Staying where you are may appear safe, but can you imagine what you would learn from trying something new? It is these words that wake me up and prepare me for a challenge.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

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