Recently Paul Rendal has offered one more to mentor people in 2023. Nikola Ilic also mentioned that he was Paul’s mentee in 2020. Today Nikola is by far one of the top bloggers around Power BI and if he’s there today it is of course because of his expertise, hard work, and dedication to the community and also as he’s said himself because he had mentors to help him grow and Paul Rendal was one of them!
So let’s talk a bit about me and why I think it is now the time for me to get a mentor too.
So far I have been pretty lucky as well as happy with the way my career went.
After uni, I started my career in France as a BI consultant and I then moved to the UK for some years where I got the chance to work with incredible people.
I remember one day I was sitting with my manager who I now consider being my mentor at that time, that day he was helping me to solve some MDX problems.
I had always been impressed by his MDX skills and the way he was solving problems, this day I asked him how did you learn all that stuff he said to me everything I know is in this book and that was an MDX book written by Chris Webb, this is when I started to realized that we’re all learning from someone and that we need to read and of course, I started to read this book.
3 years later I was looking for other opportunities and went to an interview in which I literally failed, I had been interviewed by the BI director who was an MVP at that time and he asked me some very precise technical questions as well as theoretical questions.
As I could not answer more than 50% of the questions I was a bit frustrated and I literally said that I was not expected to answer such theoretical questions and that we can usually find this stuff online whenever we need to know it. His answer to my comment was again short and precise “Here we value knowledge” “When you’re on a call with a technical customer who’s challenging you you don’t have time to google it!”
These words still echo in my mind today…
That was probably the best thing that happened in my career, in fact, this failure has changed a lot of things for me, I started to deeply learn things by buying and reading books and also by purchasing paid courses. It might sound trivial but on average most people don’t do that which is OK as long as they’re clear with their goals. But once you start doing it you quickly start to see the result in your day-to-day job.
A month later for family reasons, I decided to move back home or at least closer so this time I was looking for new opportunities in Switzerland where I landed a job at MSC where I’m still working 5 years later.
A lot of things happened to me in these 5 years I rapidly grew as an SSAS and Power BI technical leader and then as a team leader of one of the BI teams and more recently leader of the BI architecture team.
There are two reasons why I quickly became a technical leader, I had a mentor (my former manager) that showed me the way and mindset to have to tackle problems and learn things, and secondly the interviewer who taught me a good lesson the hard way.
And there are also two reasons I quickly became a manager, I went out of my comfort zone, and then once again I had a manager that supported me. I made several mistakes such as saying yes to everyone or overselling things that once in production needed a rollback… But luckily my manager never really blamed me for that and instead, she helped me to realize why things went wrong so we can prevent it from happening again.
So far I believe that my career is going well but I still I feel like there are still a lot more things I should achieve and I don’t necessarily mean that I want to change jobs or get even more responsibility at least for now.
But more things like improving my leadership skills, time management, and of course my technical skills.
Also, I love blogging but I barely find enough time to blog, or sometimes it’s just a lack of motivation or no clear idea about what to blog about, this is clearly an area where I’d need someone to push me.
Also, I’m used to public speaking in my company where I lead the Microsoft community but I never spoke at any event so far not even at an online group, I’m not sure why though maybe because I’d like to get some feedback before my first presentation or maybe because of the imposter syndrome even though I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of interesting things that I could share (even without knowing everything about the topic).
So to the question of why I need a mentor, it’s pretty clear to me you always need someone who has been there before you, someone who has taken more risks than you, someone who has been out of his comfort zone more times than you someone one who has failed and learned more than you, someone who knows to give you this little nudge or big if you need a big one!
There are of course great people to learn from in my current company especially my new director who is a Microsoft MVP and I’ll be also constantly learning from my colleagues. But once you’re in a management position and the one providing technical training or the guy to go to solve more complex problems it becomes harder to grow. Of course, I’m still learning by doing things or I’m learning from my mistakes or even others’ mistakes but in terms of growth, I feel like I’m hitting a plateau.
Everything that I achieved so far was largely due to the fact that I had the right people around me, however, most of the goals that I set for this year have not been achieved… So I think it’s time again for me to get out of my comfort zone and get a mentor that knows what it takes to achieve things and see where it leads me.
Of course, the role of the mentor is to mentor you not to do the job for you, doing what it takes to achieve more will be my role.