Founder and CEO Transition

Mentoring Story
Maria was the long-standing CEO of an organisation she co-founded 19 years ago. Maria approached Kilfinan once she’d made the decision to step down from the role and sought a mentor who could help her make the transition out of the organisation as smooth as possible and ensure she left it in the best possible shape.
Maria was matched with a Kilfinan specialist mentor, who worked with Maria over a period of 10 months on this discrete issue.

Maria felt the last year in the role would be her legacy time. “As the founder of the organisation, and in the role for 19 years, it was very easy to lose perspective and try to do everything you haven’t done in last 19 years in the last year.”

With her specialist mentor’s help, Maria took a step back, became more realistic about her expectations, and re-gained her perspective. “My mentor helped me to acknowledge that the biggest indicator of my legacy was behind me, and would not happen in last year.”

Maria commented that her specialist mentor was “very skilled at asking good questions that helped me reflect. She helped me understand my real value was not in drilling into detail but taking a more macro view”. In her last months in the CEO role, Maria focused on developing her team’s strengths further and helping them be the best performers they could be.

When Maria left her role at the end of 2020 and was considering next steps, her specialist mentor was a great sounding board. “My mentor helped me to feel confident that there are lots of useful things that I could do to maintain a continued connection with the organisation and stakeholders, especially during a time of transition”. Maria negotiated a short-term two-day per week consultancy role with the organisation, and continues to feel engaged, relevant and useful.

Other Comments
“Leading a not-for-profit can be a very lonely place. A mentor who is a trusted advisor and sounding board is really invaluable.”

Why do we like this story?
• With the mentor’s support, the mentee re-framed her priorities.

• Leaders of for-purpose organisations are often in a lonely role.

• The specialist mentor addressed a specific issue and provided time limited support.

• The mentee maintained a positive connection with the organisation after transitioning out of the CEO role.

• Mentors approach the mentorship with an objective lens.

• The mentee approached KA directly for specialist support.

What does this story tell us?
• Good example of the flow on effect of the KA mentoring program to the organisation, not just the individual.

• KA mentoring program can help with succession and role transitions, which is important for the health of the for-purpose sector.

• KA mentoring program is very flexible. Mentors can support a mentee with a breadth of issues or with the support of specialist mentors, target specific issues.
Names and other identifying details have been changed to protect mentor and mentee confidentiality.