Not every mentorship story is a typical one. You may think that a mentor should by definition possess strong business experience. However, this does not mean that he/she has the mentoring skills necessary to provide the constructive feedback that builds relationship and trust with aspiring entrepreneurs.

When Susan Threadgill first heard about the mentoring opportunity in an email to the office. She had been exploring options and wanted to mentor and understand small businesses and how to help them grow. Susan had no prior experience with entrepreneurs or mentoring and stepping into the role of a mentor them for the very first time seemed daunting, “I felt like I didn’t know how to interact and didn’t want to give bad advice, I felt like the mentor role had a lot of responsibility”, Susan shares.

When the second annual NYC eBay StartUp Cup Challenge launched, Susan approached this opportunity with enthusiasm. More confident, Susan was able to identify right away teams that were able to step up and succeed. And felt more comfortable in her interactions with teams.  Susan believes the eBay StartUp Cup Challenge, after engaging for two years now has been supplemental in developing her leadership within eBay, especially around developing empathy.

Mentorship is a critical element to both professional and personal development. It can be construed that perhaps no business leader has attained success without the support of a mentor to guide him/her through the inevitable highs and lows of business. However, in the workplace, Susan shares that she is more open to new ideas when building her quarterly roadmaps, she is able to ask great questions and engage her team, plan more effectively, and establish a better partnership with other teams.

The challenges and obstacles of starting a new company are easier to navigate with the guidance of an experienced mentor. In the entrepreneurial ecosystem, mentors play a critical role in the education and development of business building skills of aspiring entrepreneurs.

Susan sees the importance of supporting local business as she understands challenging it is to run a business. “I believe that when people have reached a level of economic privilege it’s time to start giving back, to create a cycle of support and empathy, building put local small businesses. Rather than local industry being replaced by gentrification, especially in NYC neighbourhoods”, explains Susan.

Susan shares her favourite moment was from the Mentor TuneUp at eBay offices in New York City. She loved seeing last year’s teams progress, especially Whim App whose team members had just left their jobs to run Whim App full-time.