Shark Tank mentor helps BEL students take the plunge

28 March 2018

Shark Tank mentor, investor and entrepreneur Dr Glen Richards inspired students and their industry mentors to keep swimming at The University of Queensland’s BEL Career Mentoring Program networking breakfast.

Over 160 mentors and student mentees from the program – an initiative of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law’s Student Employability Team – came together to network and hear personal and career insights from Dr Richards.

Dr Richards is the founding managing director of Greencross, Australasia’s biggest consumer-facing pet care company.

Aside from his Shark Tank duties, Dr Richards is also on the board of Greencross and several ASX-listed companies. He mentors many other budding businesses, including his Shark Tank investments.

As a UQ alumnus, Dr Richards said being guided by his UQ professors and peers sparked his future interest in mentoring.

“We’re very fortunate that UQ takes seriously their role in the development of the next generation,” Dr Richards said.

“UQ staff were superb people that I could chat with, reflect with and discuss my career choice with. 30 years on, one of my former professors is still interested in what I’m doing.”

Dr Richards said mentoring – both as a mentor and mentee – had opened many doors in his career.

“I look at the difference it makes in your journey, be it life or business, when you have really wise people as part of your conversations,” he said.

“The older I get, the more I realise how important it is. They’re always two-way conversations and I’m growing and developing myself while I‘m developing someone else on their journey.

“It helps me figure out my own perspective on life by having to verbalise it.”

Dr Glen Richards with BEL student mentees
Dr Glen Richards with BEL student mentees 

Dr Richards had several top tips for students searching for career guidance.

“With modern medical science, you’re going to live to be 100 so you need to be passionate about something,” he said.

“Go hard in that direction until you bump into the next thing you’re passionate about.

“That is the reality today because our careers as we know them are being disrupted. It’s important that we get good at accepting disruption, change and chaos. Otherwise, we’ll find we’re sitting there with all the degrees in the world and no job for us.”

According to Dr Richards, students who are determined to succeed should also make time for “structured thinking".

“Because life is so chaotic, it’s important that we stop and reset ourselves and our goals every three months, six months, 12 months,” he said.

“Think about where you’re trying to get to this year and in the next five years. Spend some time writing down the goals you’re trying to achieve, be it in your health, your wealth, your career, your family or your friendships.

“That’s where a good mentor helps in that process; they’ll challenge you with questions like ‘where are you trying to get to?' and 'how might you get there?’

“And it’s important to realise that you don’t generally have one mentor, you have a menagerie of mentors that will help support you, including parents, peers, old school teachers, university lecturers and people in your industry.”

Dr Richards said he would encourage other alumni to give back and support initiatives like the BEL Career Mentoring Program.

“For students to have access to a formal mentoring program like BEL’s is really exciting,” he said.

“They’re going to learn things at university but they may not know where to apply them, or the best way to apply them.

“That’s where mentors can help them make decisions about how to use their knowledge.

“As for the mentors, if we can de-risk someone else’s journey and help them avoid some rookie mistakes, be it in life, business or their career, it’s very satisfying.”

Mentors and mentees
Mentors and mentees alike were inspired by Dr Richards' career journey

Cate Clifford, Employability Specialist – Mentoring for the BEL Student Employability Team, said she was delighted to welcome Dr Richards back to UQ.

“I’m very grateful that Dr Richards was so willing to meet with and motivate our mentees and mentors with his career journey and ‘4Ps’ – planning, people, patience and passion,” Ms Clifford said.

“Program participants took away some valuable insights on setting goals, creating a vision, delegating, and growing their ideas and business.”

Learn more about the BEL Career Mentoring Program.

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