The Importance of Mentors in Tech and Finance

Here’s why mentorship is instrumental in career growth, providing guidance and support for personal and professional development.

Kathy Park, Partner, Andra Capital

April 7, 2023

4 Min Read
partnerships and diversity
Prostock Studio via Adobe Stock

Mentors have been invaluable in my 25-year career in the tech and finance industries. They can take a variety of forms: they can be more senior, or they can be peers. But a mentor is actually anyone who’s been able to give me advice and guidance around navigating my career, the organization that I’m in, or even very specific situations.

Mentorship is incredibly important -- not just for women and people of color. But when you are in the minority, having someone who wants to help you succeed is incredibly powerful and helpful. And I’ve been fortunate to have that all the way through my career, which started at Goldman Sachs in the late 1990s.

Mentors can guide you in your career because you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s good just to have other people who are aware of the context, the environment, and have more experience navigating those, so they can make your path easier.

Finding a Mentor

Sometimes, finding a mentor happens organically. Some firms will actually assign mentors and sponsors. Other times, it’s who you naturally gravitate toward. In my case, there were always people that I just admired. I’d be in a meeting with them and just think, “Wow, that person is so impressive or interesting or funny.”

Finding a mentor can also be as simple as finding someone who looks like you because, chances are, they can relate to your experience better. Also, don’t be afraid to just ask for a mentor, especially if you’re at a larger firm. If you want a mentor on a formal basis, talk to your manager or someone in HR, and ask them for a mentor.

Once you find a mentor, you have to maintain that relationship. It’s not the mentor’s responsibility to seek you out and give you guidance. The best ones will do that, but they’re often very busy. As a mentee, it’s up to you as well to stay in touch with your mentor and be proactive in managing that relationship.


Historically, it’s often been people of similar backgrounds who have mentored each other, whether that’s women helping other women or minorities helping other minorities. But increasingly, you’re starting to see professionals focus on diversity and bringing it to their companies.

You’re starting to see professionals in the majority -- whether that’s color, gender, or even sexual orientation -- who feel that diversity is important. It’s no longer a function of minorities helping other minorities. Now, it’s people in the mainstream who are trying to promote diversity overall.


First, figure out what your goals and objectives are. Then, be open to taking on new opportunities, and don’t be afraid to fail.

We tend to be more afraid of failure than we need to be. I often tell professionals who are early on in their careers that now’s the ideal time to take risks and try things that are really hard. The cost of failing is much lower in the earlier parts of your career than they are down the line. Later in your career, there’ll be a lot more at stake; you might be running bigger teams or responsible for allocating more capital. Try to get as much learning as you can up front.


The adversity of being a woman of color tends to come from feeling a little bit like a fish out of water or just being very aware of my differentness. Early on in my career, there weren’t as many role models. I was trying to figure out how to navigate the room or the dialogue, and I was very acutely aware of my differentness. 

Now, it’s a bit more subtle. It’s more about overcoming stereotypes that people may have or preconceived notions of who I am or what I am. The adversity comes in many different forms. It can be small things, but it can also be larger issues where I’m trying to be heard or share my perspective.

Dealing with Setbacks

I’ve been discouraged many times in my career, but you just have to pick yourself up. The important thing is to treat every failure and setback as a learning experience. Looking back, there are times when I thought, “Wow, I just took a completely wrong turn.” And it wasn’t that I took a wrong turn. I just took a slightly different path. And it was a longer and harder path than the straightforward one.

But these experiences have always been enriching, so it’s crucial to have the perspective that it’s all just part of your growth. If you take that approach, it’s hard to stay discouraged.

About the Author(s)

Kathy Park

Partner, Andra Capital

Katherine J. Park is a Partner at Andra Capital, a Silicon Valley-based growth and late-stage investment firm focused on leading, disruptive private technology companies.

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