Jacob Sheehan, Chicago L.E.K. Consultant and Notre Dame MBA graduate, gives insight into how mentorship shaped his career and what the mentor/mentee relationship looks like within L.E.K. Consulting.
In what ways did mentorship impact the early stages of your career prior to L.E.K.?
Before business school, I worked at a family-owned energy company in Toronto where the vice president and owner were my two key mentors. They gave me a lot of responsibility and helped me develop in my role and encouraged me to attend business school. They advised me throughout school and helped me think about what I wanted to do afterward. They are very important to me and were critical to my career. We’ve become long-term friends, and I make sure to reach out and have lunch or coffee with them whenever I’m back in Toronto.
How have you experienced mentorship at L.E.K.?
From a formal standpoint in the U.S., all managing directors and managers act as CDCs (career development coaches) for the junior team. Everyone starts out with a dedicated CDC. Generally speaking, you meet with your CDC monthly or quarterly. They act as a sounding board for big-picture things, like which sector to dedicate yourself to or how to accelerate your trajectory. My CDC is great; he tends to be very direct and forthright and gives unvarnished feedback, which for me is something I really appreciate because it helps me improve. If we’re in the same city, we make sure to get coffee or dinner.
From an informal standpoint, mentorship is very easy to find at L.E.K. because colleagues are really open about sharing knowledge and sharing practices. There is a manager in New York I met on campus during a recruiting event at Notre Dame who ended up coaching me throughout the L.E.K. interview process and my first year as a consultant. He is still a mentor for me today. There is also a principal here at L.E.K. I’ve worked with on several cases who has helped me figure out which sector to dedicate myself to and continually offers career advice. The partners have also been great in my experience. It can be a bit nerve-wracking to speak with them when you first start, but they have such a wealth of experience and knowledge, and generally want to help nurture the next generation of consultants.
Have you been a mentor?
I’d like to think so. Not as a formal mentor at L.E.K. — you become a CDC once you move up to manager — but informally there are a couple of associates I have continued to engage with who I’m always happy to help out with any advice or ideas. I know we are busy, but I don’t think it is too much to ask to have a 30-minute conversation with someone and check on how they’re doing. These relationships strengthen bonds between colleagues and support our career path.
Do you have advice for someone looking for a mentor?
If you’re willing to ask questions and have conversations frequently with enough people, mentorship can develop organically. If you’re motivated to look for a mentor and if you’re willing to come into it with humility — not wanting to demonstrate how smart you are — and come in with some vulnerability and ask questions, you can expect to gain a lot of knowledge and accelerate your development