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Mentoring Mission

My partner David Bukzin, who heads up Marcum's SEC practice, received a wonderful honor this week. On Wednesday, he was the honoree for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City's 2013 Accountants & Bankers Reception. BBBS is the biggest organization in the country dedicated to mentoring. They have a range of different kinds of mentoring programs, all aimed at helping underserved teens and young adults, including one that matches young people with business men and women to help them build a foundation for future professional success.

Mentoring is one of the most profound ways that an accomplished person can help someone still on his or her way up. A good mentor serves as your private sounding board and personal advisor. Someone who can vet your ideas in their earliest stages of formation, before you feel confident enough to float them publicly, and who can provide constructive professional guidance based on their own experiences and achievements. Someone who can help you get where you want to go.

BBBS isn't the only one who recognizes the importance of mentoring. Mentoring also takes center stage on the NBC realty TV program The Voice. On the show, Usher, Shakira, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine mentor unknown vocalists competing for fame and fortune in prime time. The music superstars coach the aspiring talents through four stages of competition: blind auditions, battle rounds, knock-out's, and ultimately, the live performance shows.

In public accounting, we don't have warm-up rounds before the live performance, or Usher swiveling around in his chair to cheer us on. In order to remain competitive in our industry and to exceed our clients' expectations, every day is a live performance.

Marcum is loaded with talented people, from partners straight through to entry level accountants, and every level in between. But no matter how good they are, young professionals still on the front end of their career tracks can especially benefit from the perspective and guidance of people who have more experience. So this spring, Marcum is re-vamping our own mentoring program, to give every person on the team the best possible chance to shine.

Marcum's new mentoring program is driven by the mentees. They are the ones whose careers and futures are at stake, so it is up to each of them to take ownership of their own mentoring relationship. They will get as much out of it as they put into it. They will set actionable goals with their mentors, and they will meet with their mentors regularly to review progress and determine next steps. The mentors will serve as counselors and advisors along the way, there to provide moral support, encouragement and practical advice.

The opportunity belongs to the mentees. It is theirs to use or lose. If the next generation is as smart as I believe they are, they will recognize this as a pathway to future industry leadership. Like the contestants on The Voice, they will take it all in and return a performance worthy of applause and accolades. I'm sure David Bukzin and I would both turn our chairs around for that.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Jeffrey M. Weiner and do not represent those of Marcum LLP, its partners or its employees.

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