Cross the Gender Line: My Male Mentee

cross-gender-line-menteeWhat kind of impact can mentoring really have on your career? Is it really so important to have that relationship, or can you excel without it? We asked these questions to Craig Robinson, president of the United States division of Colliers International and long time friend and mentee of Diane Paddison. He shares with us how mentorship shaped his career.

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4word: Can you share with us about a mentor who has impacted your life?

Craig: Few people have had more of an impact on my personal and professional development than Diane Paddison. Nearly 13 years ago, I graduated from Harvard Business School and was a young African American associate at Trammell Crow Company where Diane was a division president. Diane was well known for her passion towards diversity, talent development, and connecting believers in the company. I feel a special gratitude towards Diane who not only encouraged me to realize my full potential at Trammell Crow but also to see God’s hand in the path ahead of me.

4word: In what ways was your career impacted by having a mentor like Diane?

Craig: Diane’s encouragement and support at Trammell Crow helped me play a key role in growing the Corporate Services practice, and I eventually helped launch and lead Trammell Crow’s National Government and Public Sector practice.

Years after both Diane and I left Trammell Crow, she continued to have an impact on my professional development and played a key role in bringing me to Cassidy Turley, another real estate services firm where Diane served as CSO and advisor to its executive leadership. Due in large part to Diane’s sponsorship and advocacy, the executive leadership of the company brought me on as President of Corporate Services. Having a senior leadership position at a young age (I was 35 at the time) can be challenging. I would have succumbed to at least a dozen traps, but Diane coached me on leadership effectiveness, navigating corporate politics, and most of all, having faith in God’s purpose for me when times got tough.

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4word: What tangible results have you seen from such coaching and sponsorship?

Craig: In just under four years, we have helped build one of the most successful companies in the industry, and Cassidy Turley’s Corporate Services division has grown by nearly 300 million square feet of new clients. More important than any professional accomplishment, Diane has helped me see and realize my own personal and professional potential. She has encouraged me to stretch beyond what was comfortable or perhaps obvious for a young and emerging leader. Moreover, her example has inspired me to play a similar role in the careers of other young (and not so young) leaders- particularly minorities and women.

4word: In your opinion, what is the value of having such a long-lasting mentoring relationship?

Craig: From my days as a young associate to my current role leading a national business unit, Diane has consistently been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and mentorship. I will always think of Diane as being my own spiritual mother, sister, and friend in Christ. The value is not only in the tangible career results but also in my personal and spiritual growth. Having a mentor like Diane for all these years has been invaluable to me.

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The results of mentoring often extend far beyond the workplace. A good mentor knows how to give you advice and direction that not only impacts your career but also shapes you emotionally and spiritually. These relationships are worth seeking, and once found, holding onto.

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Do you have a relationship that you can’t imagine your life without? What makes that relationship so important?