Leading IN >> the Art of Mentorship with Paul Kim and Sarah Irby

12/08/2020 Unknown 0 Comments

On Monday, November 16th, our @BIC Lecture Series “Lead IN” focused on mentorship as Paul Kim, founder of Capital vs Humans, and Sarah Irby, Director of New Brands at Unilever, commanded the BIC grid. Their lecture “LEADERS. MENTORS & Vice Versa” treated participants to an inspiring conversation on how to navigate high-level mentor and mentee relationships. They also touched on leadership’s role in new business development as Sarah discussed the launch of Unilever’s new skincare line, MELÉ. The banter was lively and personal: as former classmates at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Paul and Sarah are living testaments to the importance of building and sustaining lifelong networking through the grad school experience.  

During the lecture, Paul and Sarah discussed the value of having mentorship at all stages of one's career and how it's important to have mentors in both business and life. Paul stressed that a lot of young people incorrectly treat mentorship as transactional. He strongly advised everyone to work on maintaining mentor/mentee relationships throughout their career and not just leveraging them for getting that first job.  

But, what makes a good mentee? Speaking from personal experience, Sarah said people should be respectful and follow advice, but also have drive, energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to be proactive. Paul, who is also a Senior Fellow at CCNY focusing on global socioeconomic inequity, said that "approachability" is key. He cited how "social capital is often more important than hard skills." This was something Sarah echoed, noting that she applies her marketing skills to social relationships within the company and in the office environment. But being approachable in business is not just about being friendly; it's about being productive, fostering collaboration, and leadership. “You can’t get anything done as a marketer without teamwork.” 

Sarah showed a case study of MELÉ, a new brand within global skincare giant Unilever, which demonstrated her approach to corporate leadership.  MELÉ was born from the belief that melanin-rich skin should always be a priority as opposed to an afterthought. After a survey found that 63% of women of color felt ignored by the skincare industry, Sarah worked with fellow beauty industry pioneer, Esi Eggleston-Bracey and a team of Unilever scientists, dermatologists of color, and real people in the community to develop a brand that gives melanin-rich skin the attention it deserves.

MELÉ is not just a skincare brand, but a tool pushing for change in the skincare industry. Its purpose-driven essence is reflected in Unilever's corporate interest in making a positive impact on the community as well as on its bottom line, recalling the philosophy of Scott Goodson, CEO of StrawberryFrog who discussed "Brand Purpose" in our first @BIC of the semester. Read about his lecture HERE.  You can also learn more about MELÉ and buy their products HERE.

When the evening wrapped up, BIC Program Director Nancy R. Tag thanked Paul and Sarah, noting both the substance of their conversation and their easy rapport. "As former grad school classmates, you're living the advice you're imparting this evening. It's gratifying to see your continued support of each other." The growing BIC alumni network provides similar support: Our BICsters don't just leave with an MPS degree and a portfolio, but a network that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

Thanks so much to Paul and Sarah for an incredible conversation and for being role models of what collaboration and Leading IN truly looks like.

Our final @BIC Lecture in our Fall 2020 Lead IN Series featured Shameka M. Brown + Julius Dunn, Founders of The Adversity Group. Attendance to the December 3rd event "Leading with Intention: The Difference Between Non-Racist and Anti-Racist" was limited in order to create an intimate participatory and interactive experience.  

Watch the full lecture recording here