When most people think of mentors, they picture the grizzled veteran bestowing words of wisdom on the promising young upstart. But a new program at University of Miami’s School of Business Administration reverses that dynamic—the young upstarts are the ones offering the advice.
Initiated by Citibank (C), the reverse mentoring program will pair 15 senior executives from the bank’s Latin America regional office and 15 graduate and undergraduate Miami business students. The duos will then meet at least once a week for six months to work on a project. At the conclusion of the mentoring, senior executives will present their projects to the entire group for analysis and discussion. The details – when to meet and what to focus on – will be worked out when mentors meet their mentees on Friday.
Citibank wants to tap into the digital wisdom of the younger generation. Mobile payments, communicating with Millennial generation customers, social media, the digital retail business, and creating the most compelling job pitch for college students will be top of mind with the group. The goal is to bridge the gaps among Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials, says Jorge Ruiz, who is based in Miami and is the head of digital banking for Citibank’s Latin America office.
Eileen Wende, who was an intern at Citibank and will be joining the firm full time after graduation next summer, is among the Miami students who will be mentoring an executive. She hopes to develop a rapport with future colleagues.
Wende, a second-year MBA student, helped an IT consultancy in Miami improve its social media strategy in the B-to-B sector. She thinks her generation is a gold mine of information when it comes to technology. “If anyone knows how to use social media and mobile apps, it’s the Millennial Generation,” she adds.
In addition to helping Citibank stay on top of trends in technology that are important to its clients, the reverse mentoring should also help in recruiting. “If we understand the next generation better, we can motivate and cultivate talent better,” adds Ruiz.
Citibank is keeping tabs on how this program goes, he adds, with the hope of expanding to other regions and schools in the near future.