Erik Keller, VP of application development at moving
services provider Sirva and a 2007 Ones to Watch honoree,
doesn’t believe in the old adage “Those who
can’t do, teach.” That’s because
Keller’s mentor, Eric Dirst, is not only a teacher but
also an accomplished leader. Dirst himself earned a Ones to
Watch award in 2005; now Sirva’s CIO, Dirst wants to help
Keller reach a CIO position too.
Keller credits much of his success to his relationship with
his mentor. “The fact that he was a Ones to Watch winner
and moved into a CIO role set a good baseline for our
relationship. As I moved into my current role, he knew how he
liked to be mentored and was able to apply that.”
Dirst has shared valuable insight into Sirva’s
corporate culture, Keller says, which helped him make strategic
decisions related to IT, as well as learn the best way for IT
to communicate with the business.
Healthy mentor/mentee relationships are all about
communication and respect, Keller says. Keller was reporting to
the COO and not working directly in IT when he met Dirst, so
they were able to build a nonmanager relationship first, which
Keller says helped establish an atmosphere of respect that
continued once Dirst became his boss.
As for communication, “You need to help your mentor
understand what you’re looking for from the relationship
and the kind of feedback you need,” he advises.