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  • Writer's pictureSMS USYD

A Reflection on the SMS Mentoring Program

Lily Cheng

Looking back in hindsight, I was glad that I applied for the 2013 SMS Mentoring Program.

Although my background was in Finance and Law, the former President James Fan referred it to me, as every student in commerce should find a mentor. A mentor is more than just a mentor. My mentor is the current General Manager for e-commerce and marketing of Veda, Victor Leung. He is now a dear friend of mine and I am hopeful that our friendship will continue into the near future.

What started off as an odd pairing (as I made it clear that I studied law and finance and he was the head of marketing), we now see each other roughly once a month for dinner on a Friday. He was forgiving and understanding and for that I am grateful. I asked him how he felt about being paired with me, he laughed and told me that when he read my application, he knew straight away that it was meant to be. He said that my application stood out as interesting and he felt the tone of my personality and he wanted to know more about my diverse life. When we first met, it was awkward needless to say but after a few hot chocolates and coffee, we were talking as though we had been friends for years.

I told him that I was glad to be paired up with Veda as I had heard of the company in my former days working in retail credit in a small Australian Finance company and it was somewhat relevant to my degree. Veda is a credit reporting agency. It acts as a database for financial companies (particularly those that deal in retail finance) to look up their client’s credit histories and scores. I started to learn more about Veda, the importance of marketing in the commercial world and about my mentor over time. I learned how marketing is the core reason why businesses failed or succeeded. Marketing is embedded in every transaction and interestingly a part of everyday life.

I was honest with him. When he asked me about what I wanted out of the mentoring program, I told him I wasn’t sure. I told him what I knew, which wasn’t much but he seemed okay with it. I was grateful to have a mentor that was understanding and eager to see me develop as a person. He has taken me into his office to roam around and take photos. He gladly showed me how marketing was moving to an online platform and he was educating me about something that I would not have considered. We also sometimes try out new places to eat from time to time because I am a “foodie”.

Victor has given me a refreshed and mature outlook on life. Having a mentor is like having a coach. He was someone that I reported to when I had reached another achievement or milestone in my life. He kept me on the ball by constantly asking me what I was doing, how it was relevant to my career goals and why. He is sometimes very critical of what I do and while at the time, I do get admittedly defensive, there is always truth in his thoughts. He is one of my biggest supporters.

When I talk to Victor, he makes me reflect on my decisions. I don’t want to disappoint him. I wanted to make him proud to have me as a mentee. He would remind me at times about deadlines and tell me to hone in on being more of a “professional” for I was a very casual person by nature. He did mention that he enjoyed my easy going nature as it was different but stressed that I should be more professional in the corporate world. Most of all, he gave me words of wisdom that can only be acquired through experience. I continue to take on his thoughts, insights and advice eagerly.

He has been there for me in person and via email. I am always surprised that he sticks to his schedule with me for he is a very busy person, sometimes starting work at 7AM, which I anecdotally ask, “Is the sun even up at 7AM in winter?” He generally looks at me with a blank face which is then followed by a moment of silence and laughter.

People might think I am not making the most of my mentoring experience, as I have not gained work experience or scored an internship. That wasn’t my key objective however when I applied in 2013, although it isn’t impossible. I am content with the friendship that has developed over time with Victor. I wouldn’t push him to give me an internship instead I leave the ball in his court. Who knows, maybe in the near future, he might or someone in his network might need an extra pair of hands? Every mentoring experience is different, and mine has been incredible.

Victor was a former student of the University of Sydney and a former tutor in the marketing discipline. He is the General Manager for e-commerce and marketing for Veda.

Lily Cheng is a current student at the University of Sydney studying LLB/Commerce (Finance).


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