Igniting the “Developmental Light” Through Mentorship

Publish Date

15 AUG 2023


For Edward Shober, Executive Advisor to CEO and Executive Vice President, Head of Strategy & Business Transformation, EMD Electronics, mentorship has played a significant role in his development as a leader.

With over 30 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, how has mentorship played a role in your journey and development within Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany?

Mentorship has consistently played a very significant role over the course of my career journey. It has positively contributed to my own professional development over the years. Early in my career, I embraced values such as treating every mentee with respect, operating with the highest level of integrity and encouraging mentees to take their own next step forward in their careers. This set a positive tone in my mentoring relationships. By providing career guidance and support to employees, I have shared my own experiences, helped mentees work their way through career challenges, and enabled them to “see the light,” within their own professional development. I have learned that mentors can also develop leadership skills and behaviors in these relationships, which benefit their own leadership competencies as well.

What advice would you give to mentees seeking out a mentor? In your opinion, what qualities determine the most successful relationship between a mentee and a mentor?

When seeking out a mentor, seek someone who is unlike yourself. Find someone who has professional experience in a realm that piques your interest, but also where you do not have competency yourself. By doing that, you will be challenging yourself to learn alternative perspectives and approaches. This ability to be open to new skills and perspectives will help to broaden your leadership skills and career possibilities. I also recommend that you should look for a mentor who embodies qualities or values which you’d like to develop. Learn from those who emulate what you desire to become yourself.

How can a mentor balance the responsibilities of their current role along with their commitment to a mentee? How have you found success in balancing mentorship in the past?

First and foremost, mentors are leaders. Leadership is about service; so, mentorship is part of your leadership role. One of the most important skills for a mentor to have is the ability to deeply understand a mentee’s desires through active listening. Giving a mentee your undivided attention and quality time is the best leadership you can provide to an employee yearning for growth. Great leaders believe that they work for their team. Thus, to me, mentorship is an integral part of my leadership role.

When it comes to thinking inclusively about how we as individuals can support our colleagues in their development journeys, what advice would you give on how mentors can be aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion?

When it comes to role modeling the DE&I behaviors as a mentor and leader, it is paramount that we create a company where everyone is respected, safe, included and valued: regardless of their background or identity. Celebrating the diversity of our Employee Team and empowering our collective diversity is what makes us stronger in the markets we serve. As such, mentors need to strive to embrace our rich diversity and unleash the resultant competitive advantage it provides us with.

As you’re a strong supporter of mentorship and have been a mentor for many, can you talk about the benefits of this type of relationship and give an example of one that has been particularly significant or impactful for you?

I have thoroughly enjoyed both formal and informal mentorship opportunities. It is especially satisfying when I see what I call the “developmental light” ignite within mentees. The “developmental light” sparks as they begin to understand their own professional situation and look to further develop themselves both personally and professionally. For me, it has been especially satisfying to see several technically oriented professionals become more familiar with the business and customer side of our EMD Electronics business. It has been rewarding watching them becoming willing to move into unchartered career territory and take on roles outside of their former career comfort zone. Providing mentees with confidence and motivation, further helps them to unlock their own potential. I have seen this occur several times in recent years. Mentorship not only develops the mentee, but it also increases the capability of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to deliver upon our own spirit of caring, pioneering and outperforming. In some of my recent mentor relationships, we have focused on the realms of “acting as the owner, obsessing with the needs of our customers and then simplifying and acting with urgency,” all of which are critical for our success in the Electronics’ Industry we serve.