Sandra Davis Named 2016 Marvelous Mentor


Twin Cities Business honors five Minnesota business leaders who have helped others become leaders themselves.

We all need help at some point in our careers. We don’t always ask for it; we don’t always know that we need it.

“I don’t believe that an individual necessarily raises his hand and says, ‘I want to be your mentee,’ or that the other individual raises her hand and says, ‘I’m signing up for mentor,’ ” says Sandra Davis, one of this year’s honorees. Nonetheless, as founder and chair of MDA Leadership, a Minneapolis-based leadership development consultancy, Davis has provided professional coaching to numerous executives. But she’s found being a mentor uniquely rewarding.

In contrast to executive coaching, the mentor-mentee relationship often develops over time, often unintentionally, after many casual conversations or informal meetings. What evolves is a relationship, Davis says, where “the mentor sees something in the emerging talent and wants to be of assistance—wants to help, wants to pave the way, wants to introduce that person to something he or she hadn’t seen before, or introduce them to other people.” Put another way, “Mentors open doors for the people whom they’re working with.”

It’s not always a matter of veterans guiding rookies. Susan Marvin had been building a successful career as a sales and marketing executive in her family’s eponymous window and door business. But when Marvin found herself in a leadership situation that was new to her, a friend connected her with Davis. Davis had experience in the area and provided insightful direction through unfamiliar terrain.

See photos from the event.