Forging Relationships & the Power of Mentorships in the Workplace

Forging Relationships & the Power of Mentorships in the Workplace

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Maha Neouchy
November 26, 2013

On Monday, November 18th, The Washington Center (TWC) welcomed alumnus Chad Creasey ('96) and his mentor, the Honorable Wilson "Bill" Livingood, to speak to fall 2013 students during its Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series (SMLS) panel. Livingood and Creasey came together at the Blinken Auditorium in TWC's Residential and Academic Facility to discuss their close personal and working relationship and took questions from students about the impact of a powerful mentor.

 

A Life-changing Seminar Experience

 

Creasey first came into contact with Livingood while attending TWC's 1996 Campaign Academic Seminar, when Livingood had just become Sergeant of Arms in the U.S. House of Representatives. After the seminar, Creasey set up a lunch with Livingood and asked for an internship at his office. His initiative really resonated with Livingood, who took Creasey under his wing to became both a lifelong friend and mentor. It was through the combination of Livingood's mentorship and his own hard work that Creasey is now serving as a special agent with the FBI. He attributes his seminar and internship experience with TWC as a pivotal turning point that shaped the rest of his career.

 

Impact of a Powerful Mentor

 

During the four months that he interned for Livingood, Creasey had the opportunity to shadow him during a variety of tasks including setting up meetings for the upcoming Republican and Democratic Conventions and attending trainings with the S.W.A.T. team and the U.S. Capital Police. When talking about this experience, Creasey said "it made me reflect about my future and helped me figure out the next step in my professional career." By the end of his internship, Livingood fully supported Creasey's pursuit of a career with the U.S. Capital Police Department in D.C. He started as an officer, then moved to dignitary protection, and was finally selected for the S.W.A.T team after weeks of tryouts. He served on S.W.A.T. until September 2011, when he was recruited to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Livingood always believed in Creasey, saying "I was so proud of him…you don't know how things are going to turn out. Mentors care about you and you care about them."

 

Moderated Q&A Session

 

For the first time ever, the panel was moderated by a fall 2013 intern named Blue Knox. When asked by Knox what qualities to look for in a mentor, Livingood responded: "find somebody that you have a lot of faith and trust in. Look to see if they have the type of personality where they care about people and want to help them. If you find that, try and foster that relationship. If you don't succeed, try it with someone else. A lot of it is up to you and how you decide to do it.

 

John Curiel, intern at International Economic Development Council and student at Ohio Northern University, asked both speakers if they had, at any point in their careers, "ever become disillusioned with a mentor and how did you recover from it?"

 

Livingood responded "I had a few mentors including one in high school, a couple at Michigan State, and two or three in the Secret Service—they were all fantastic and I was lucky. But that does happen, people can do something that isn't necessary your style. What you have to do is cut the cord. You have to stop seeing them as a mentor and more as an acquaintance. Since I didn’t have a father during my early, formative years, I think that I was yearning for that in life. I was blessed when it came to my mentors."

 

Gisela Ruiz, intern in Senator Harry Reid's office and student at University of the Sacred Heart, asked Creasey and Livingood about how they would define leadership.

 

Creasey responded that there "are managers and then there are leaders that inspire people. Leaders inspire people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. On Capitol Hill, Bill [Livingood] was the third longest Sergeant at Arms and his entire office that I came in with was still there the day he retired because they believed in him.

 

Livingood stressed that there is "a difference between a manager and a leader. A leader has strong values and moral integrity. A good leader is also a good communicator and someone who knows how to listen. It's someone who you can look up to and say 'I am proud to follow this woman or this man.'"

 

Dominique Winfrey, intern at For Love of Children (FLOC) and student at The University of Memphis, asked you draw the line in terms of being transparent. For example, he was your boss and your mentor. Was there a line between being open and being yourself and how did you establish that line?

 

Creasey said "you can't write this sort of thing down. You have to be able to read the person and understand where they are coming from. You have to recognize the relationship being built and nurture that relationship.

 

A Special Thank You

 

There is nothing in the professional world that creates more of an impact than strong mentorship. Chad Creasey and Bill Livingood exemplify the importance of a mentor-mentee relationship in this day and age and how it can contribute to shaping one's career and success.

 

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