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Better Together: The Importance of Both Internal and External Mentors

Better Together: The Importance of Both Internal and External Mentors

tED magazine is launching a new series of stories that are completely the work of our past “30 Under 35” winners.  We are calling this series of articles “Better Together.”  Past “30 Under 35” winners came up with the topic, and then they wrote the articles. Instead of doing traditional interviews and taking small parts of what they said for our stories, “Better Together” allows the next generation in our supply chain the opportunity to let you know how they see the industry in the future, how they see it taking shape right now, and what they would like to see happen so it remains strong and vital throughout their generation.

This article comes from Edwin Ojeda, Senior Territory Manager at Brady Corporation.

Ever since my first day at Brady Corporation, I’ve had an internal mentor. Actually, I’ve had several internal mentors that changed with my role and with the person I reported to.  Thankfully, that revolving door has slowed down and the same person has mentored me for the last several years.  This mentor has guided me both in my professional and personal endeavors and has truly been the most impactful person in my professional career.

With that said, I’m always looking out for a new mentor to compliment my current mentor.  Why, you ask? Well, my current mentor is internal to Brady Corporation and, though this has worked well, I also need objective, external mentoring. Coincidentally, the second mentor I’ve encountered has come from the distribution channel. I now have a better perspective for the other side of our industry. I better appreciate the manufacturer/distributor relationship. I can navigate the conversations around how distribution is incentivized, how they are measured, what their initiatives are, the struggles they face in the field, among several other key areas that create a mutually winnable environment between me as a manufacturer and the distribution channel. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t receive this specific second option until 11 years into my outside sales career.  Yes, we all feel like we know this info, but would we have been better off if new employees (millennials) were provided both an internal and external mentor? Imagine a distributor rep with an internal mentor and a mentor from a top manufacturer to bounce ideas off of. Jump right out to the market appreciating both sides of the partnership you will rely on to win. Better yet, honor top manufacturers and distributors by considering them mentor material for your new, up-and-coming talent.  I have to imagine the relationship could do nothing but strengthen with this new added connection and partnership.

It just seems to make sense to me.


This topic, along with many others, will be discussed during the roundtable discussions and panel session at the upcoming NAED LEAD Conference in Chicago on July 20-22. We strongly recommend you send your young, up-and-coming stars to this year’s conference. You can register by clicking here.


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