How One Mentor Changed Thalia Smith's Career Forever

As part of our national office, we go through this really cool program called our Management Development Program, and it really is to help build future leaders within the organization. I spent two years in our national office in this program, and then you transition back into full client service. And so as I was coming up, I was approached by a Partner who had this amazing opportunity with regards to a client of ours that was about to undergo a major business acquisition that would take them from being in 10 countries to suddenly being in 50 countries.

And [this Partner] approached me and said, ‘Thalia, I want you to come and work on this project and lead this project as the lead manager.’ And I, quite frankly, remembered thinking, why me? Why am I capable of doing this? Am I capable of doing this? And I actually told him no. Quite a few times. I suffered from what has been termed this imposter syndrome. Lucky for me, he was determined and he just kept asking and asking and asking.

There were two things that struck the pivotal moment of me finally saying yes to him after months of him asking. The first thing that he did was, I remember after one more conversation of saying no, I went to bed and woke up the next morning and he had written for me a pros and cons list of coming to work for him and working on such a major acquisition.

The second thing that I had gone through, we have a number of programs within our organization, part of the reason why I love Deloitte. And there was a specific program focused on women, and there was this statement made during one of our sessions with regards to when a job is typically posted, if there are 10 individual pieces of criteria with on that posting, women will look at it and they'll say, ‘I have to meet nine or 10 of these criteria in order to apply for this job.’ Versus more times than not, men will look at it and be like, ‘Oh, I have at least three things on here. I will figure the rest out.’

While I have never worked on anything like this before, I think that if I apply myself, and I obviously have the support of partners like Rajiv, I can do this. And so I said yes, and that decision was an absolutely pivotal change in my trajectory within the firm.

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