My Journey from Protege to Mentor in the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program

Janyce Yuzbasheva


Tell us a little bit about yourself

First and foremost, I am a mom to two very amazing kids. I consider them my most important job, teaching them how to grow into kind, compassionate, critical thinking adults, and helping them navigate through this world. It's the toughest and best job I could have. I currently work at Lambert Distributing, my family business. I am an Owner/Director and have held the position of Purchasing and Accounts Manager for three years. I obtained my MBA from the Edwards School of Business in 2017 and have a BA Hons. from the University of Saskatchewan. I am currently completing the Leadership Development Program through Edwards Executive Education and will be taking my Certified Leadership Coach Training through Destination Leadership. When I’m not spending time with my family, I like doing Olympic Weightlifting and dancing. Two years ago, I was a Protégé in the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program and last year a Junior Mentor. I am very excited to be moving into a Mentor capacity this year.


When did you first become involved in the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship Program?

I became a Protégé in 2018 when I was currently working at my family business. Prior to taking a position with the family business, I was challenged with looking for and applying for jobs in an atmosphere I never had to do before. The environment was competitive and good jobs seemed scarce. I wasn’t sure I had the skills and talent to do some of the jobs out there. Once I took the position in the family business, I faced several challenges. As an Owner/Director, I want to do well in the work and for the business. My parents who work at the business, are near retirement age. And I work with my ex-husband and other family members. I needed to learn to set clear boundaries with work, family and home life. The challenge really became learning to separate emotions and expectations while maintaining clear communication and boundaries in a family run business. These challenges are what lead me to the Womentorship program.


What was your goal you were trying to achieve by joining the program?

My goal was to find out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and more specifically, to find my purpose. I had finished my MBA and I was working, but I was looking for a career that was more fulfilling and really made me feel like I had purpose. More specifically, I wanted to learn the landscape of searching for a purpose-filled career: how to look for a job, how to apply for a job, how to interview, as well as gain some insight into changing career paths. I needed answers to what could I do, where do I fit in and how would I know when I get there. I was also plagued by imposter syndrome. I questioned my ability to work outside the family structure. I began to doubt and question my skills, intelligence and talents, even with an MBA. And I was so fortunate to be guided through all this by my Womentor that year.


What did you learn and gain during the experience as a Protégé?

I grew so much that year! During my time as a Protégé, I learned that I do have the skills! I am employable. I interview well. I gained valuable connections with other women in the program. I had the most fun and focused early morning breakfast meetings with my mentor. I explored career options and possibilities and learned what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t change jobs, not because the program doesn’t work, but because I wasn’t ready. I realized this the following year. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships and learning I developed in the process.


When did you flip sides and start the path down becoming a Mentor?

I became the Junior Mentor in 2019. My goal was to gain knowledge and experience in mentoring and to start transitioning into a mentoring role. I continued to grow throughout this year. I eventually learned what I wanted to do when I grow up, which is to do more mentoring work, to move into a leadership and coaching role and continue learning more about my purpose. Unforeseen circumstances changed the program last year, which allowed me time to explore ideas around mentoring and coaching: what they are, who does them, how did they get there? I spent time on self work, taking chances and learning new ideas through reading books, following some influential women’s (and some non-women focused) social media accounts and listening to podcasts.


Are you willing to share some names of books, accounts and podcasts you found influential?

There are so many really good voices out there in print, on social media and on podcasts. Recently, I read Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed and I am currently listening to Greg Everett’s book Tough. I follow Shirin Eskandani’s Instagram and blog account @wholeheartedcoaching. She is amazing, and really wants to teach women how to be the best versions of themselves. I also follow Taylor Gage at She Thrives Blog, who has a really straight forward and sincere approach at how we see ourselves as women and humans. I’m a big fan of all of Brene Browns’s work, in print and her podcast. There are some amazing female athletes that I follow as well. They show up every day and do the work for themselves. And that is inspiring. And of course, I follow some local businesswomen and find inspiration in the work they do everyday, running their businesses, showing up for themselves, their work, their clients, their followers. There are some really inspiring people in this city that show up fully every day.


As a Mentor, what are your new goals you want to achieve?

I have several goals for myself as a Mentor this year. Ask questions of your Protégé. Find out who they are, what their goals are, and their why – why are they there? Encourage learning as much as possible. I hope to have the knowledge that my Protégé is seeking, and I hope to learn from her also. I want to learn more about myself in this process, to develop my own skills and grow throughout the year. Understand your own expectations of your self and be prepared to adjust those. Find the joy in this relationship! I am really looking forward to guiding my Protégé through her goals!


Did you benefit from your experience as a Protégé and now a Mentor?

I benefited so much from being both a Protégé and a Mentor. The program gave me time to learn and figure out what I want to spend my time and energy on. I learned that you are who you spend time with. Being involved with a group of women with similar interested and goals has helped me to keep focused. I gained new connections through the program. I gained experience in a field I would not otherwise have access to. And it helped to boost my confidence and silence the imposter syndrome voice.


What advice do you have for new Protégés?

As we move into another year of the program, I have some advice for the new Protégé this year:

  • You will only get out of this relationship what you put into it
  • Ask all the questions!
  • Be bold – take the reigns and determine your own direction
  • Have an end goal in mind, whether it is knowledge, professional connection, career changes or navigating careers or professional advise.
  • Learn as much as you can from all the resources around you
  • Understand your own expectations and those of others, and be prepared to adjust them
  • Be dedicated to yourself through this process. Put aside time for yourself and your Mentor, for your own development work and the sessions and opportunities offered here.

Find the joy! Even though I didn’t change careers, which I thought was my ultimate goal, I achieved what I wanted to. Which was to get closer to and even find my purpose.


What was your main takeaway from the program?

The relationships and connections created in the program are so important. Take chances in your life and career. Don’t be afraid of change. Ask all the questions! You don’t know what you don’t know until you ask. There are people that are willing to help, and people who have the knowledge you are looking for. And make connections with people who resonate with you and what you do or who you are.


Do you have any last comments you would like to share?

I want to end with a definition of mentorship that I came across that I think really captures the spirit of our purpose here:

Mentoring is “A mutual relationship with an intentional agenda designed to convey specific content along with life wisdom from one individual to another. Mentoring does not happen by accident, nor do its benefits come quickly. It is relationally based, but it is more than a good friendship…mentoring is not two people who just spend time together sharing”. - Thomas Addington and Stephen Graves

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