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Mentor Interview: Paul Convery

Paul Convery, Upnotch Mentor, is a recruiter, career coach and owner of the recruiting/consulting companies, One World Consulting Group and One World Executive Search.

He has over 15 years of experience in recruiting, career coaching and has worked with companies in technology, healthcare, financial services, sales, non-profit, marketing, food and public relations.

What is your superpower & why?

My superpower is at the core of everything I do. I believe it's not about me - it's about trying to help other people. It has allowed me to be successful and I've used that philosophy throughout my entire career. It hasn't failed me.

Whether I'm working in San Jose or in Seattle, whether I’m working with a big financial institution, a law firm, or a small startup, people have told me "We like working with you, because you put others first."

Have you been in a mentorship before?

I have, yes. Throughout my career, I've done a lot of work with university students who are looking at embarking upon new careers. Then on the other end of the spectrum, I've done a lot of work with individuals who were looking at the last phases of their career in terms of what they want to do.

My mentoring really focused a lot around career development - helping individuals with their job search or helping individuals create more of a professional presence when they're interviewing for jobs.

Have you had mentors before?

Yes, I've had many mentors throughout my career. I have a core set of five mentors. One had to do with helping me with developing my career, other ones helped me start up my own business, and other mentors helped me deal with life issues. They all come from different backgrounds and they have all helped propel me to where I am today.

Tell us about a time a mentor has helped you accomplish a very specific goal.

I was looking to sell my stake in a business that I was a part-owner in. I was looking to exit because my wife got a job in Luxembourg. My mentor helped me negotiate a really good buyout package and really guided me and helped me negotiate a really good offer. That was a goal that I was looking to achieve, and my mentor definitely played a pivotal role in that.

Can you describe a time when a mentor pushed you further than you thought was possible? Or accelerated your career?

Back in 2002, I had an opening for a position that was two levels above me. I didn't think I could do it. My mentor helped me put together a strategy - a comprehensive game plan to present to the managing director. He told me, "You are a perfect fit for this position. You know the business and you're a known entity, why not go for it?"

He convinced me to go. Now, unfortunately, I didn't get that job, but they did offer me a similar position in California that I took. A position that was also two levels above me. I didn't get the job that I applied for, but they liked what they saw and they offered me another opportunity in California - which ended up being a great move for me.

Any advice that your mentor has given you that you would like to share with us today?

It's really important to know your lane. We all have different strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes.

When I say lanes, what I mean is, different careers and life situations. Understanding what those lanes are for each of us, working within those lanes and looking to enhance ourselves within our particular lanes is how we work better.

Have you ever received some terrible advice that would make you think twice?

One of my mentors once told me, "Hey, I think it'd be great for you to get into working with stockbrokers.” This was when I was finishing up University and it was a disaster!

It was an environment that was counter to my own personality, very cutthroat, counter to everything that I believed in. I lasted a week doing that. Was it bad advice? Yes. But it was an opportunity for me to try something early on in my career. I tried it and I know now it’s not for me.

What's the weirdest or strangest thing you've asked your mentor?

When I was contemplating getting divorced from my first wife,I really didn't have anybody that I could really talk to, that I could trust. My mentor knew my situation so I went to him and said, “I'm looking at leaving my wife, and I'm just not happy.”

He gave me advice and asked me, “Do you really want to do this? Why is this happening? What's missing in your life?” That was probably the weirdest thing I ever asked a mentor but we got through it.

What makes a great mentee in your opinion?

Somebody who is open, who questions you, who is looking to work hard on whatever they want to improve upon. A good mentee is somebody who wants to eventually be a mentor themselves and that has that willingness to try things that are outside their comfort zone.

Why do you mentor?

I believe that we're on this earth to pass on knowledge. We all need to help each other because we're all interconnected. When I mentor somebody, I want them to pass it on to somebody else.

My mission is to help people. Mentorship is a great way to do that - you can try to help people improve whether it's their work-life or their personal life.

What organizations or schools have your mentors attended or worked at, that you feel you inherited pieces of from them?

The University of Toronto, University of Washington, Stanford University, Santa Clara University, and York University - and I believe I inherited a lot of their core and school values. I myself went to a junior college, Humber College. It's a Business School, with a lot of entrepreneurship going on. And I believe I inherited a lot from that as well.


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