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  • Writer's pictureDeepak Subramanian

Why You Need A Role Model, Mentor, Coach And Sponsor

We all know we would benefit from having a role model, mentor, coach, and sponsor in our Career journey. Which one do you need, and what's the difference? There are fundamental distinctions as each plays a crucial yet varied role. Understanding them and knowing which pivotal person is missing in your career will help you advance.

Role Model

A role model has traits you admire and wish to emulate. You may never meet this person, but you admire specific skills they may have. Sridhar Vembu is my role model. I want to inspire people like the way Sridhar Vembu inspires others through his work. I've never met Sridhar Vembu (I'm still holding out hope), but that doesn't stop me from respecting and admiring his unique ability to be so authentic to himself and his company.


A mentor is someone who talks with you about your career, goals, plans, and aspirations. They help you refine your plan, suggest people you should speak to, opportunities you should partake in, and obstacles you should be aware of. Mentors usually take on two major roles. They help with your career and psycho-social needs, such as motivating and inspiring you toward your next milestone or goal. Mentors can also recommend other people who should be on your mentoring team. Your relationship with your mentor is usually long-term, often continuing for years or even a lifetime.


A coach is someone with whom you have a conversation as you try to perfect something very specific. If you are about to give a TED talk, hire a coach to help you with storytelling. If you have your eye on the C-suite, consider hiring a coach to help you with executive presence or determine your passion and purpose. Many organisations provide coaches to their C-suite; however, you may wish to invest in your career and consider hiring your own coach.


A sponsor talks about you when you are not in the room. They nominate you for awards and promotions. You can do everything right, but getting promoted within your organisation will be tough if someone doesn't notice and recognise your efforts. Having someone who vocally advocates for you is critical to your success.

Now that you know the difference and their impact on enhancing your career journey, I want to leave it to you to decide whom to use and when to use them.

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