QWhat is the difference between sponsors and mentors?

answered December 13th, 2011 by Phoebe Wright

Throughout my career I have had several sponsors and mentors.  Sometimes even the same person.  To me a sponsor is in a position of influence and can persuade others of your value.  Definitely a sponsor is needed to get a promotion or a plum assignment or a big sale.  Usually, my sponsor was my boss or a key client, but quite often it was someone in human resources who knew how to pull strings and believed in me.


During my banking and entrepreneurial careers, I have had many great mentors.  Mentors are experienced people who are willing to share their wisdom to teach you the ropes.   From my mentors, I learned how to negotiate a raise, how to bring together two sides in a tricky negotiation, how to deal with powerful people, and how to persuade.   There is a saying:  When the student is ready the teacher will come, and this has been my experience time and again, both as a mentee and as a mentor and executive coach.



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