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Lessons on Mentorship: From 'The Odyssey' to the M.S. in Technology Management

As Academic Director of Columbia’s M.S. in Executive Technology Management program, Arthur M. Langer, Ed.D. has a unique perspective on the power of mentorship. In his recent editorial for Entrepreneur, entitled “The 3,000-Year-Old Lesson in Executive Mentorship,” Dr. Langer shares that perspective—and explains why many executive and leadership coaches get mentoring wrong.

Noting that the concept dates back to the epic Greek poem The Odyssey, Dr. Langer writes that mentoring has become a major industry, in which “a combined $1 billion was spent on personal and business coaches.” Unfortunately, he adds, too many coaching and mentoring services pay too little attention to matching mentors and mentees who are equally committed to the relationship.

As he points out, the M.S. in Executive Technology Management is part of a growing trend of pairing academic programs with mentorship. Columbia’s program offers students “a pool of 260 top business professionals” who select mentees based on the students’ individual business plans (“similarly to a sports draft”). As a result, the mentors are “more likely to be invested in your success.”

To illustrate how this can impact a student, Dr. Langer cites the experience of Matthew Smith, an alumnus who credited his mentor with imparting the wisdom and insights that helped him to launch a key initiative at AT&T. 

“Without support from the key players in your organization, a big idea like Matthew’s will remain just that,” Dr. Langer writes. “This is where a true mentor can make all the difference.”

Read the full article and learn more about Columbia’s M.S. in Technology Management program.