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Why mentoring matters: A conversation with Carlos Lejnieks

McKinsey Accelerate |

“It’s those moments,” says Carlos Lejnieks. “Those moments when a person opens up that door and it is up to you whether you want to walk through it. They didn’t have to consider the possibility, but they did.”

The subject is mentoring, something Lejnieks knows firsthand. In the 1990s, after he’d dropped out of high school and was working baseball-memorabilia shows to support his single mother, mentors helped steer him on a journey that ultimately took him to Brown University, Goldman Sachs, and the London School of Economics.

Now, in his 13th year leading the Newark, New Jersey−based chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS), Lejnieks oversees a mentoring organization whose staff and volunteers* support 1,100 school-aged children. Nearly all of them live below the poverty line, and a third were referred to BBBS from the state social-welfare system. In this conversation with McKinsey’s Bill Javetski and Dana Sand, edited for style and brevity, Lejnieks explored the range of roles that mentors play—from caring for disadvantaged children to meeting the modern corporation’s talent needs.

A leader of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Carlos Lejnieks talks about how successful mentors help others see qualities in themselves that they might not otherwise see.

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