interVivos is always looking for new volunteer mentors. You should sign up! 

Our mentors come from various fields such as entrepreneurship, information technology, post-secondary, consulting, government, communications, healthcare, culinary arts, politics, and non-profit. Our mentors are also diverse in their ages, genders, and backgrounds. 

Mentoring relationships make a high impact. They bring results and can change people’s careers for the better. Powerful things happen when a respected, experienced person shows interest and goes out of their way to help another individual develop, especially when they are open to being influenced.

One interVivos mentor told us: “It’s so important that as we succeed, we lift others along the way. It’s mutually beneficial too. As we lift others, we rise higher ourselves. I know my protégé will do great things with her future, and I look forward to seeing her achieve her goals. When you decide to mentor someone with interVivos, you help that person achieve. You share your failures and your successes. You advise and so much more. I had a very positive experience participating in the interVivos Mentorship Program, and I will definitely do it again. This program is very well organized, and the board members are so friendly, sweet, and very easy to talk to. If you are interested in either being a mentor or protégé, you should reach out to interVivos.”

Here are some of the reasons that there is an increased interest in mentoring:

  • Millennials believe that having a mentor will help them succeed.  
  • Mentorship helps foster commitment and loyalty to new organizational leaders.
  • Mentoring builds leadership competence and strengthens “the talent pipeline.” 
  • Mentoring facilitates strategic alignment by enabling and sharing knowledge.
  • Mentoring promotes diversity and inclusion, allowing everyone to learn from the variety within an organization. 
  • At the heart of mentoring, there is profound personal value.
  • Mentoring brings safety to guide protégés in their career development. When mentors share experiences, they help their protégés avoid common pitfalls.
  • Mentors help their protégés become more capable, confident, and competent to accomplish their goals. Mentors are uniquely positioned to share what they have learned and help their protégés understand the skills they need to be successful.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer mentor for interVivos? First, check out some frequently asked questions. Then, drop us a line to sign up at

This blog was written by Ellen A. Ensher, W. Brad Johnson and David G. Smith, and was originally published by Harvard Business Review.

The nine-to-five in-office workplace isn’t coming back. Remote work is now globally pervasive, and a Gallup survey last fall revealed that working from home — including various hybrid arrangements — is trending permanent. As of September 2021, 45% of U.S. employees were working partly or fully remotely, and 91% of them planned to continue some level of remote work post-pandemic; in fact, 58% would consider leaving their current jobs if access to remote arrangements vanished. When combined with evidence showing that remote workers are as or more productive than their in-office counterparts, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay.

With this shift comes the need for managers and leaders to master virtual mentorship. Four decades of research leaves no doubt that employees with access to positive mentoring relationships accrue numerous personal and professional benefits. And when mentoring is a discernible element of a company culture, retention and advancement of talented new employees is enhanced. But how can managers shift their approach to initiating and nurturing these relationships when prospective mentees aren’t physically present?

Many individuals incorrectly presume that physical proximity is essential in developmental relationships. But like work itself, mentoring is defined less by the medium in which it is accomplished than by the outcomes delivered. Commitment, trust, relationship quality, and mentor competence are the real ingredients of developmental growth, all of which can be applied to virtual mentorship.

Virtual mentoring is rife with distinct advantages for the new environment of remote and hybrid work. Recent research on virtual developmental relationships indicates that this form of mentoring can be more egalitarian; visual status cues signaling organizational status and physical stature are minimized in video-based conversations by reducing all parties to a voice and screen of equal size. Moreover, in a post-#MeToo environment, where cross-gender mentoring may feel fraught, the opportunity for virtual engagement can decrease anxiety about in-person meetings. Virtual mentorship also removes the hindrances of shared space and geography, since online options allow more flexibility in mentor/mentee schedules and locations. The ability to record and transcribe mentoring sessions can enable mentoring partners to refer to and reflect on a past conversation and, if shared, enables others to learn vicariously. Finally, wide availability of translation apps and closed captioning on most virtual platforms now extends a mentor’s impact to a global population of prospective mentees and more inclusive of those with disabilities.

As optimistic as we are about virtual mentoring, we acknowledge that there are some potential obstacles. Virtual mentoring may require greater intentionality than mentoring in the face-to-face office, where there are fewer mentor-of-the-moment opportunities in chance hallway interactions or informal drop-by chats. It also may require more effort to establish trust and rapport in the relationship, since the full range of nonverbal cues and vocal nuance may be missing. As with many online collaborations, virtual mentorship can also suffer from email overwhelm and screen fatigue, which can cause the relationship to become more task-oriented and expediency-driven, rather than focused on relational support.

There is little access to formal training and education on the art and science of successful virtual mentoring. (Only about 30% of companies offered training in virtual mentoring pre-pandemic, but those efforts focused more on software and company policies than tactical interpersonal and social skills for virtual relationship success.) Fortunately, there are skills leaders can learn to succeed. As a start, we suggest sharpening these five virtual mentoring strategies.

Build trust.

Establishing trust is foundational to any developmental relationship and may require even greater intentionality in virtual mediums. Such skills include taking the initiative to reach out, demonstrating your commitment to and reliability in meetings, and showing genuine care, concern, and compassion about a mentee’s work and life situation. Actively listen, be curious, and avoid assumptions about a mentee’s aspirations or concerns. Talk about how to make the virtual relationship a safe space for both parties (this includes an agreement about confidentiality in terms of what will and will not be recorded or shared), and deliver on any promises you make. Your mentee can’t drop by your office to remind you about an introduction you’d promised to make, so earn their trust by following through without being prompted.

Clarify rules of engagement.

In contrast to the more informal nature of in-person meeting arrangements, virtual mentorship requires greater attention to setting expectations around communication logistics. In addition to deciding the frequency of communication, discuss preferred mediums for communication, including synchronous (e.g., video-based platforms that work for both parties, internal mentoring systems, and phone calls) and asynchronous (e.g., email, messaging, and social media platforms such as LinkedIn) options. Which feel comfortable for both parties, and what boundaries around times for communication should be honored? Additionally, when you or your mentee are working remotely, be flexible around meeting schedules and attuned to the demands of caregiving, homeschooling, personal commitments, and other work-from-home realities.

Be intentional when forming the relationship.

Research on building rapport and overcoming biases and assumptions in cross-cultural mentorships indicates that working to establish deep-level similarity is important. For example, consider using relationship-building tools in the early phase of virtual mentoring to better understand your mentee’s values, personality, and professional calling. Ask questions that go progressively deeper into the experiences, feelings, and life or career dreams of both the mentee and mentor, so you can feel a level of closeness and similarity. Be intentional about sharing and reflecting on your similarities, career goals, and relationship objectives to develop a strong working alliance. Thoughtful effort when developing the relationship and discovering shared values is the best way to mitigate implicit biases. These includes homophily in online relationships — the preference for interaction with demographically similar people — and defaulting to stereotypes around race or gender.

Balance authenticity with boundaries.

In one sense, virtual mentoring may lend itself to greater task-oriented formality around mentor-mentee pairings, scheduling, and topics for discussion. However, with much virtual mentorship taking place inside our homes, there will be inevitable glimpses into the personal lives of both parties, including unscripted intrusions by partners, children, and pets.

On one hand, great mentors should welcome these moments — including honest disclosures from mentees about the challenges of work-life integration — as opportunities to empathize, deepen understanding and connection, and normalize these experiences for a mentee by sharing one’s own challenges in this area. Alternatively, mentors should remember to preserve some relational boundaries. This may include avoiding disclosures that may feel awkward for mentees, being mindful of how one is dressed, engaging respectfully with family members (yours and your mentees’), and checking in on one’s comfort level before sharing personal information.

As relative power holders in the mentorship, mentors must strike a balance between keeping it real and undue familiarity or worse — becoming creepy.

When possible, collaborate.

In-office mentoring has traditionally afforded many opportunities for working together on projects such as research, product development, or client pitches that benefit the mentee, the mentor, and the organization. Such collaboration can become a platform for teaching, coaching, and networking with your mentee. Don’t overlook the potential for collaboration in virtual relationships, as well.

For example, one of Ellen’s healthcare client organizations encouraged virtual mentor pairs to present a project after a year of officially partnering together. One pair created a conference presentation on breast cancer research, while another set up a one-day mobile clinic for mammogram screenings. Deliberate collaboration promotes transferable skills such as project management, presentation delivery, writing, research, and giving and receiving feedback.

Like new managerial skills for remote work, there are new skills for virtual mentoring. With intentional preparation and skill development, virtual mentoring can be quite effective. No matter the medium for your next virtual mentoring relationship, we hope that by developing these skills you will be well prepared for a high-impact virtual relationship.

Imagine that you need milk, so you go to the grocery store to pick some up. When you get to the dairy section, you see dozens of options. These days, you have to decide on the percentage of fat you want (1%, 2%, skim, etc.) and what source you want your milk to be coming from—cows, almonds, soybeans, oat—the list goes on! Almost dumbfounded, you stand in front of the section and have no idea what milk to pick. There are so many choices that you are overwhelmed. This phenomenon is known as the paradox of choice, and it is becoming a concern in the modern world, where more and more options are becoming readily available to us. 

Our mentorship program is full of choices for mentors. Will you be meeting in person? Virtually? A hybrid? Do you want to meet more than the three times required? Do you want to use the resources provided or find your own? And, the biggest one of all is who you want to be matched with. 

After the program launch, both mentors and protégés are asked to list their top 5 choices of people they would like to work with. Several mentors often say they are open to being matched with anyone and let interVivos decide for them. This doesn’t just take away from the stress of making a choice but has led to many successes. 

We chatted with three former interVivos mentors who decided not to confront the paradox of choice when selecting their protégé. We learned more about their mentorship experience and the benefits of letting the interVivos team decide who they should work with for the program.

Harriet Tinka

Harriet Tinka participated in two interVivos mentorship programs. Most recently, she was a volunteer mentor for the Summer 2020 program. She knows it’s essential for mentors to be open-minded about working with a match because it helps them become less restricted with their views and more empathetic.

Harriet helped her Summer 2020 protégé improve their emotional intelligence. Together they concentrated on building conflict resolution techniques and being effective communicators in any environment. As a mentor, she improved her active listening skills and inspired others to take action.

“Being open-minded to meet different protégés allowed me to gain greater insight into new ideas. I encourage future mentors to be open-minded to let their knowledge grow exponentially. My experience has been unmeasurable, and I appreciate the opportunity to have been a repeat mentor.” 

Mike Zouhri

Mike was a volunteer mentor in our Fall 2020 mentorship program. Mike was open to being matched with any protégé because he believes that general principles, strategies, and mindsets can be applied to most situations to reach those bigger and broader goals in nearly any field. 

Mike and his protégé worked on goal setting and strategies for executing those goals. His protégé had a vision of someday helping a specific community she was a part of. They found ways to flesh out and refine her ideas and build confidence to tackle the concept. Over a few months, Mike’s protégé took those skills and made a proof-of-concept which earned them a finalist spot in an entrepreneur competition, which was profiled in the news.” 

“Selective gating limits you and your impact, whereas being open-minded allows for more possibilities to get involved in the lives of people whom you may not otherwise consider. Those experiences may push you to grow as well.”

Teneya Gwin

Teneya Gwin was a mentor in our Fall 2020 program. Teneya says that being open-minded allowed for a match based on personal or professional experiences and comfortability. Knowing that her protégé felt safe and comfortable sharing and asking questions was a huge component to making a successful experience for both of them.

Teneya and her protégé worked on the stereotypes and personal characteristics linked with the ideologies of confidence in a colonized/western professional world. They also shared ideas for self-care and time management.

My protégé opened my views on where I had strengths outside of my resume and reminded me that experiences are what bring connection. Being open-minded about your match might help you learn something about yourself as well as different careers and businesses.”

As Harriet, Mike, and Teneya have demonstrated, the paradox of choice doesn’t have to be a part of your experience as a mentor. Being open to being matched with anyone can lead to fantastic opportunities for both mentors and protégés. 

Let us know If you would like to be a future mentor for an interVivos mentorship program by emailing us at

The new year is a time when people worldwide celebrate the birth of a new beginning. It’s also a period when many people reflect on the past and resolve to reshape themselves. The interVivos volunteer board is no exception.

In the coming weeks, the interVivos team will be planning our events and programs for Edmontonians in 2022. To guide our planning, we decided to look at past mentorship programs to better understand the needs of mentors and protégés in Edmonton. Most importantly, this research will help to enhance the event and program experience for attendees a key focus area of interVivos’ strategic plan.

These are the programs we took a deep dive into for this research:

  • Fall 2018 
  • Summer 2019
  • Winter 2019
  • Summer 2020
  • Fall 2020 
  • Fall 2021

These programs had 162 participants in total; half mentors, half protégés.

Who are our participants? Why are they interested in mentorship? What are they looking for in a mentor?

Approximately 16 % of our mentors are repeat participants, while 84 % are first-time mentors. It’s great that we have been able to find so many new mentors who are willing to spend their time and energy toward helping someone else achieve their goals. We also very much appreciate our repeat mentors. It’s fantastic to see these Edmonton community leaders willing to continually give their time, share their knowledge and experience with others, and make a positive impact. If you are interested in volunteering to be a mentor in 2022, please email

It is incredible to see that 20% of our protégés have been a part of our mentorship program more than once. These protégés have seen the value of the interVivos mentorship program and are hungry for more. Our repeat protégés are featured regularly on our blog. For example, here is a post with a protégé who has participated four times

Our research shows that the majority of our participants come from the private sector, followed by the public, then nonprofit sectors. We also have had a few postsecondary students participate as protégés. Our private sector mentors are small business owners and work with for-profit companies. For example, they own consulting firms and restaurants. Our public sector mentors are employed with the different orders of government. Some people who’ve been mentors from this sector include medical doctors, police officers, and policymakers. Our nonprofit mentors have come from impactful organizations in the community. Some have been fund development officers, communication leaders, and executive directors. 

Why are people participating in our mentorship program? Take a look.

Why do you want to be a mentor?  What do you hope to accomplish with your protégé? What is one thing you will provide your protégé during the program?

These numbers show themes and the percentage of mentors who included them in their registration responses. 

Why do you want to be a protégé? What do you hope to accomplish with your mentor? What is one thing your mentor will provide you during the program?

These numbers show the percentage of protégés that included each theme in their registration responses. 

These are the qualities that the 81 mentors included in our research noted they are looking for in their ideal protégé.

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These are the qualities that the 81 protégés included in our research noted they are looking for in their ideal mentor.

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Interested in joining an upcoming mentorship program? Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter) so you don’t miss out on your chance to register as a protégé. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please drop us an email at Also, check out the research we did a few years ago on some earlier mentorship programs.

Many of us have asked our mentors for assistance on career paths, sensitive work situations, and how to stand out and get ahead, but sometimes mentorship matches can take us in unexpected directions. This was the case with interVivos mentor Lorephil Aguinaldo and protégé Bumo Mgabe. In late December, we chatted with them virtually about their unique experience.

Lorephil and Bumo were part of our Fall 2020 Mentorship Program which was our first mentorship program featuring volunteer mentors who were Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour (BIPOC). Both had a feeling right away that they were meant to be a match. Bumo said, “I could tell from our first interaction. We both had similar ambitions and shared a growth mindset”. Likewise, Lorephil agreed they shared a vision and that they “clicked right away”.

During their Zoom match meetings throughout the program, Bumo felt more comfortable sharing her professional and personal goals regarding her savings and finances. Lorephil encouraged her to get another job to pay off her car sooner. Bumo says Lorephil taught her “the value of laser focus and perseverance when achieving goals”. Meanwhile, as a mentor, Lorephil focused on the importance of listening to your protégé and truly understanding where they’re coming from before giving out advice. She believes this allowed her to help Bumo break down her goal and achieve it. Bumo and Lorephil found ways to get over the more minor obstacles standing in their way.

Both Bumo and Lorephil know that they have benefited greatly from their mentorship experience and encourage others to sign up for the next program.“Just do it; you never know what you’ll find,” affirms Lorephil. Bumo is once again a protégé in the Fall 2021 Mentorship program. She is working with her new mentor towards her next financial goal—saving for a house!

It’s no easy feat, but we have faith that Bumo can succeed in this plan—with a bit of help from her mentors, of course.

Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter) or join our
mailing list so you don’t miss your chance to register as a protégé for an
upcoming program. We are also always looking for more volunteer mentors, so
drop us a line at to find out more about how you can get

We’ve been looking into where mentorship is headed in the coming years and have identified three trends: Intergenerational Mentorship (or ‘Reverse Mentoring’), Inclusive Mentorship, and Online Mentorship.

Trend 1: Intergenerational Mentorship (or ‘Reverse Mentoring’)

Intergenerational mentorship is when a younger person mentors an older person to offer a fresh perspective,  help them enhance skills, and build new ideas. The older person benefits from being in the role of the student. These relationships are often reciprocal as the younger generation can access senior leadership and build communication and leadership skills. 

Several large companies offer intergenerational mentorship programs. Older workers say it keeps them relevant and inspires them. 

Technology, social media, and business approaches are areas where the younger generation can inspire the older generation. 

Diversity and inclusion have also boosted the trend. The younger generation becomes racial justice educators to their older peers.

Some examples we found in our research:

  • A Nigerian woman in public relations held a Reverse Mentoring Workshop for senior public relations and communications professionals. This two-day workshop brought together 40 skilled female professionals from Indonesia, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda, England, the United States, and Nigeria. Mid-level yet high-ranking young people presented professional insights on brand building, trend identification, team management, and tech solutions in business communications. Click here to find out more. 
  • In 2018, a University of Alberta Business student named Christina Luo reverse mentored an Alberta Treasury Bank executive named Lorne Rubis. Both benefited from the experience. Rubis said that Luo taught him to think outside the box and brought new ideas and approaches. You can read an article about their relationship here.

At interVivos, we believe the best mentorship relationships are when both parties gain something from it. Our programs provide space for reciprocal relationships between mentors and protégés. Check out a recent blog where a match talks about their reciprocal relationship. 

In the coming months, interVivos will look closely at creating programs focused exclusively on creating stronger reciprocal relationships.

Trend 2: Inclusive Mentorship

Many mentorship programs recognize the need and importance of amplifying diverse voices and ensuring the success of all people regardless of their race, culture, ability, religion and sexual, or gender, orientation.

Diversity allows communities to be more creative, stronger, and unified. Diverse mentorship is important because BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, and citizens with disabilities are generally underrepresented in leadership positions. 

Studies have shown that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more creative, stronger, and more profitable. Diverse teams are less biased in decision-making and can solve problems more effectively than less diverse teams. 

Being intentional about diversity, inclusion, and accessibility creates more opportunities for continued engagement and empowers a new generation of diverse leaders.

For example, Indigenous mentorship is vital in the professional development and retention of Indigenous people in health sciences and other major sectors. Gender-inclusive mentorship supports professional growth and interests and fosters success in different fields.

Some local mentorship programs include diversity and inclusion as a central aspect of their program planning:

The interVivos team is passionate about showcasing diverse mentors. Click here to read about why this is important to us.

Trend 3: Online Mentorship

interVivos, like many programs in Canada, has been embracing online or virtual mentorship programs and encouraging our matches to develop relationships this way. This move to virtual programs has brought challenges, successes, and new opportunities for mentoring. Check out this blog post about how interVivos launched a mentorship program during a pandemic.

Many mentorship programs in Edmonton, like us, have moved online. These are Ace Club (or Advertising Club) of Edmonton, Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC), MentorUp Alberta, and International Association of Business Communicators. Many plan to keep virtual components after the pandemic as this platform has many benefits.

Participants have said that using virtual platforms has allowed them to meet with their match more frequently and with greater ease. 

Virtual mentorship also has the potential to reduce barriers. For instance, you don’t have to pay for parking or travel on transit to meet up. Instead, you can do it from the safety and comfort of your own home. 

Given the nature of the pandemic, the next mentorship program we offer might be launched online. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter) so you don’t miss out on your chance to register as a protégé. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please drop us an email:

This blog post was originally published by LeanIn.Org and can be found here: 

Mentorship and sponsorship are key drivers of success, yet women can have a harder time finding mentors and sponsors, especially ones with influence. The good news is that we can mentor other women at any stage in our careers, and it pays off when we do. Women who are mentored by women feel more supported and are often more satisfied with their career.

Use our tips to be the best mentor/protégé you can be, and remember, like all good relationships, mentorship is a two-way street.

1. Consider timing

Mentors: Find a woman to mentor—it’s never too early

No matter what stage you’re at in your career, you can mentor another woman. If you’re farther along in your career, pay it forward by investing in a woman just starting. And if you’re early in your career, find a woman who’s coming up behind you or a student who’s interested in your field. Don’t underestimate the value of your input—you may have just been through what she’s experiencing.

Protégés: Don’t ask, “Will you be my mentor?”

If you have to ask a woman to be your mentor, the answer is probably no. Mentorship relationships start with a mutual connection—and mentors often select protégés based on their performance and potential. So shift your thinking from “If I get a mentor, I’ll excel” to “If I excel, I will get a mentor.” Find a woman whose career path aligns with your goals and work hard to get noticed. For example, share your ideas for making a project she’s leading better or volunteer for an initiative that’s important to her.

2. Respect their energy

Mentors: Invest in your protégé’s success

Commit time and energy to develop your protégé. Make yourself available and take the time to understand her questions and give her thoughtful and thorough input. Ask your protégé for regular updates. The more you understand her progress—and what’s working and what’s not, the more effective you can be as a mentor. If she’s not using your time wisely, be clear about your expectations and set guidelines for your time together. You’ll both benefit from getting into a good rhythm

Protégés: Your mentor’s time is valuable—treat it that way

Show your mentor you value her time by using it wisely. Avoid meeting just to catch up or ask questions you can find answers to yourself. Instead, come to her with thoughtful questions and be ready to discuss real challenges you’re facing. Then listen carefully to her recommendations and report back on your progress. She’s more likely to continue to invest in you if you’re acting on her input—and she sees the impact she’s having on your career.

3. Embrace feedback

Mentors: Give open, honest input—even when it’s hard

Direct, actionable feedback is a gift, but women often receive less of it. Look for opportunities to give your protégé specific input for improving her performance and learning new skills. Whenever possible, share your input in the moment, when it’s most effective. If you hold back to protect your protégé’s feelings, you’re not helping her. Remember, your honest feedback will help her advance more quickly.

Protégés: view feedback as a gift

Women don’t always get the direct input they need to be their best selves because coworkers may be nervous about eliciting an emotional response.5 Make sure you don’t fall into this trap with your mentor. Solicit her feedback whenever you can by asking specific questions like, “How can I improve?” and “What am I not doing that I should be?” The more you ask for and accept her feedback, the faster you’ll learn—and odds are she’ll respect your openness and willingness to grow.

4. Personalize mentorship

Mentors: Don’t just mentor—sponsor!

The best mentors go beyond mentorship and advocate for their protégés. Start by understanding your protégé’s career goals, then think through her best path forward and how you can help. Endorse her on social media. Recommend her for a high-profile project. Introduce her to people in your network. Find ways to open doors for her and invest in her success.

Protégés: Build trust with your mentor

Over time mentors can develop into sponsors who use their status and clout to create opportunities and make connections for you. Before your mentor will sponsor you, she needs to trust that you are reliable and a bet worth making. To build trust, always follow through on what you say you’re going to do and always do your very best work. When you’re consistent over time, you build valuable trust with your mentor—and your coworkers.

interVivos is thrilled to highlight a roster of amazing volunteer mentors for its Fall 2021 Mentorship Program.

We asked each of them to share one thing they’ve learned from one of their own mentors. Check out what they had to say in their own words.

“It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay not to have all the answers. Try and learn something new from each interaction you have. They may not all lead somewhere, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your time.” – Chelsey Quirk

“The power of mindfulness: that no matter how challenging and seemingly impossible your current situation is, there is always something to learn from, appreciate, and find happiness in. Joy and satisfaction are available to you at any time. All it takes is a shift in perspective.” – Christina Ignacio-Deines

“The power of authenticity.” – Christine Channer Auguste

“Spend time figuring out your values and beliefs that you are not willing to sacrifice. Set your goals based on those values and work on achieving them without sacrificing your values and beliefs. Even small steps towards should be celebrated. Be ok with taking a wrong turn too as long as you reflect and learn and grow from that experience. Just keep moving, you will get there at your own timelines. Don’t compare yourself to others, just be your best self.” – Darija Slokar-Zlatarevic

“The importance of surrounding yourself with good mentors.” – François Bourdeau

“To create situations where everyone benefits.” – Kevin Taft

“The importance of clearly communicated expectations when delegating and empowering staff.”
– Matt Schuurman

“That some of my strongest skills like creative thinking and verbal communication — which people call “soft skills” — get easily written off as unimportant, when in reality they’re tremendously valuable and not everyone has them.” – Puneeta McBryan

“You can have more than one mentor or coach for various stages of your life. Always remember the root of your why and stay genuine to who you are.” – ​​Renée Chan

“The importance of dialogue and face-to-face interactions within relationship building, stakeholder relations and in establishing a healthy team environment.” – Trent Daley

“It is not how smart you are, but it is how you are smart.” – Wing Chan

In fall 2020, interVivos launched its first mentorship program featuring volunteer mentors who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour (BIPOC). 

With this mentorship program, interVivos aimed to amplify minority voices, as people of colour are dramatically underrepresented in leadership roles across Canada. 

“It is important to take proactive and purposeful action to ensure that different voices are heard, included, and supported across the spectrum of roles,” says Zohreh Saher, interVivos president. “If we fail to challenge the system, we perpetuate the norm, which means that we wait for change to catch up rather than embracing and meeting it.”

Representing various industries and professional backgrounds, mentors and protégés were matched for six months. After a lively round of virtual “speed-rotations ” on Zoom at the online launch party in November 2020, mentor Abby Aiyeleye and protégé Charmaine Lowe were matched for 6 months.

Charmaine sat down to interview her mentor Abby about why she wanted to participate in the BIPOC mentorship program and her thoughts on mentorship in general. 

Abby is a seasoned project manager, strategic planner, and entrepreneur. Originally from Nigeria, Abby has been in Canada for six years, with some years in between spent in London, England, where she attended Greenwich University to study Business Administration. She got her first taste of entrepreneurship selling stuff on eBay, followed by owning and operating a specialty lingerie business with her sister. Her most recent venture is the home design app Clavis Studio, which she co-founded with her husband. The business plan for Clavis Studio won “best pitch – new business” and “best immigrant project – general” from Business Link in 2020. 

In fall 2020, Abby received a message on LinkedIn from Zohreh Saher saying she thought Abby would be a great fit as a mentor for the BIPOC mentorship program and asked if she’d be interested in participating. “I was so flattered!” Abby jokes, continuing to add that she’s had mentors in the past who have helped her grow, so having the chance to give back, in the same way, made her jump at the opportunity. Before interVivos, Abby mentored over a dozen people, both men, and women, because Abby loves helping people “reach for the stars.”

Recounting the interVivos process of matching up mentors, which involves all mentors and protégés meeting for 6 minutes at a time for the speed rotations, Abby says she was first apprehensive of the set-up but ended up loving the format. “It felt like speed-dating,” she says with a laugh. “I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about, and I ended up talking to everyone!”

One of the biggest worries both Abby and Charmaine had about participating in the mentorship program was fit. Both worried about not having much to talk about but ended up having so many things in common, from living in London, UK, to their passion for women’s empowerment and wishing to see more women in leadership roles. 

Abby and Charmaine both agree the narrative lens in Canada is still very much white and male, which is why Abby especially wanted to be a part of the BIPOC mentorship program.

“I hope I can provide two lenses for you: one of growth, and one where you understand the perspective I bring being black, being African, being a woman, being an immigrant,” she says. 

Abby goes on to elaborate that we all have intersections that make us who we are, and making an effort to diversify our perspectives helps us connect more with other people: “In the long run, these things impact your intersectionality as well. There are so many things that make us up as people, and that’s exciting. It’s a great way to connect with other people.”

Abby has some very clear advice for people who are interested in participating in a mentorship program. 

“Make sure you have a clear goal in mind for what you want to get out of the mentorship program,” she says. “Help your mentor understand that goal. Then, don’t be afraid to ask for help or rely on someone else’s expertise. Finally, be open to whoever you are given as a mentor. You’d be surprised at what the person has to offer and at their connections.” 

Abby encourages anyone looking for professional guidance to “participate, participate, participate! The mentors for this program were so diverse; it’s awesome! I was so impressed. I would do this again.” 

Registration for the Fall 2021 mentorship program is now open for protégés. Sign up here:

Are you interested in being a volunteer mentor for a future program? Email to find out more. 

The Fall 2021 Mentorship Program is sold out! Join our waitlist for future programs here.

Follow us on social media (FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter) or join our mailing listso you don’t miss out on your next chance to become a protégé. 

interVivos is launching our Fall 2021 Mentorship Program on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Ambitious professionals from the Edmonton area are invited to take part in the ever-popular interVivos mentorship program. Sign up now!

Our board of directors is still concerned about everyone’s safety, so we will be launching virtually over Zoom. The program will take place from October 2021 to March 2022. Mentors and protégés are welcome to meet in person or virtually throughout the 6-month program for their match meetings. 

Fall is a time to start fresh. After everything we’ve been through this past year, this is an opportunity for you to build new and diverse connections in Edmonton. Become a protégé and connect with Edmonton’s best and brightest. As well, you’ll work on your professional goals and “level up” in your community. Find out more about our mentorship programs by visiting our mentorship page and get the answers to your burning questions.

Here’s what some recent interVivos participants said about their experience:

  • “I loved the opportunity to work through some of the professional roadblocks and barriers I had been experiencing and having the feedback and guidance of someone who had been through similar situations and could help me to navigate them. My mentor also provided me with tangible exercises that I could do to help me gain clarity about my professional aspirations and goals and practically talk through how I can achieve them (or take the first steps). My mentor also has a wealth of knowledge about their industry since they are in a field that I am personally interested in–they had great resources to link me to and networks to connect with. ”
  • “It felt like I could fit professional advancement into my already busy schedule with the flexibility of the program requirements. My mentor was so fantastic, and her success inspires me! Our relationship is a place of mutual learning and respect, and I am looking forward to fostering this connection. We worked through some complex challenges, and I feel like I made some significant progress.”
  • “I’ve been a part of many networking opportunities in the past years, wine and cheese, speed networking, etc., in both the capacity of protégé and mentor. I’ve seen some terrible things happen out of these events because of the power dynamics that are the foundation of networking sometimes. I entered interVivos with very low expectations, but I was so pleased with this program. You all have worked very hard, and it shows! The structured approach and all the thoughts and care you put in from the training to considerations about power, to social media promotion, to the little thank-you’s – it’s all very much appreciated. Thank you for having me–I’ve enjoyed my experience!”. 

The following are the confirmed volunteer mentors for the Fall 2021 mentorship program:

Protégés choose their fee to participate in the program. The fees collected from protégés are directly invested in our programs, events, and non-profit costs. We also provide free protégé spots to local nonprofits.

A reminder that you can register to be a protégé by visiting: Limited spots are available!

Find out more by visiting our FAQ page and getting the answers to your burning questions.

Fall 2021 Program Sponsors

Thank you to our Co-Presenting Sponsors: RSM Canada and Park Power.

Thank you to our program sponsors:

Thank you to our Program Sponsors: InciteVSM PhotoDowntown Business AssociationRapid Fire TheatreCanaJan inc.Token NaturalsFace Ginch Handmade Masks and Doughnut Party.



Be sure to check us out on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter) to stay up to date on all things interVivos and find out more about our Fall 2021 mentors.   Feel free also to drop us a line at with any questions that you may have.