Mentors: The People in Your Corner

John Stibal, Senior Vice President of Sales & Client Management shares personal lessons learned as well as colleagues' experiences with mentor relationships:

One of the greatest lessons my mentor taught me was that a company does not determine my career – I do. I felt empowered when I learned if I had the will to reach a goal, there is always a way to get there. Sometimes you need help to adjust the trajectory toward those goals, and that’s where a mentor comes in.

I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, and they all had a positive impact on who I am today. In the same way they believed in me, they inspired me to help others grow and develop in their professional journeys. I’ve mentored several people, and it makes me proud to hear they have earned the promotions or the positions they worked hard to achieve. 

International Mentor Day on January 17 celebrates mentors everywhere. I spoke to a few Unum colleagues to learn about their experiences, and how those relationships helped them grow.

Leadership Mindset

Stuart Flint
Stuart Flint
Stuart Flint, Senior Manager in Marketing Operations in the UK, aspires to become a senior leader. To get there, Stuart knew he needed to shift his mindset to think like a senior leader.

“The two greatest lessons my mentor has taught me are to focus on having a strategic and commercial mindset and to develop and inspire other people along the way. These lessons provide me with an insight into the mind of a senior leader and encourages me to think daily in a way that helps build upon my personal development,” Flint said.
Build Healthy Habits

Kayla Works
Kayla Works
Mentors can also provide guidance on managing professional relationships. Kayla Works, Underwriter for the Unum National Client Group in the US, said her mentor taught her how to balance building rapport with peers while setting clear boundaries.

"In my professional career, I have always said ‘yes’ to everything, even if I was unable to handle a task at that moment. My mentor taught me to know and set my boundaries. That is one of the best pieces of advice I have received,” Works said.
Reverse Mentoring 

Michal Placzkiewicz
Michal Placzkiewicz
The relationship between a mentor and a mentee is not just a one-way street; mentors can also learn valuable lessons.

“Mentoring is a journey that broadens both minds. It allows you to look at things from a new angle. We may face different challenges, but we can teach one another based on our unique paths and diverse circumstances,” said Michal Placzkiewicz, HR and Corporate Communications Director in Poland.

A great mentor does not have all the answers, but they can position future leaders for success. They are the honest voice of reason we need to hear when we’re stuck, and the cheerleaders in our corner when we succeed.
About the author
John Stibal

John Stibal

Senior Vice President, Sales & Client Management

John has held several leadership roles for over 30 years with Unum and has experience working in several Midwest markets, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Chicago. Prior to his current role, John held two positions as Regional Vice President of Sales and Client Management for the Midwest region and most recently, the Northeast region. Prior to these regional leadership roles, John was Vice President of Channel Development, where he was responsible for sales recruiting and training, sales and broker compensation planning, and oversight of strategic distribution partnerships.

John received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Emporia State University with a double major in business administration and marketing. He began his career with Unum upon graduation, as a group sales representative in the Kansas City office.

John currently serves on the Emporia State University Foundation board and is also a Board Member of The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Maine Chapter. He resides in Falmouth, Maine and based out of Unum’s Portland, Maine Home Office.

About Unum Group

Unum (NYSE: UNM), an international provider of workplace benefits and services, has been helping workers and their families for more than 170 years. Through its Unum and Colonial Life brands, the company offers disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental, vision and stop-loss insurance; leave and absence management support and behavioral health services. In 2021, Unum reported revenues of $12.0 billion and paid $8.2 billion in benefits. The Fortune 500 company is one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies, recognized by Ethisphere®.


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