EY Female Student Mentoring Program launched – read more about the benefits and get acquainted with our mentors

Each of us can look back in our lives and identify the people who have provided their support, a receptive ear, a different perspective and wisdom to help us find our way. These people were our mentors – even if we did not label them as such.

The women at EY TAS (Transaction Advisory Services) Finland have launched a mentoring program targeted at female students from all business and engineering schools around Finland. We are excited to provide this opportunity for students, as we at EY strongly believe in the power of mentoring and have various internal programs in place. We have witnessed time and again that mentoring plays a crucial role in the development of any successful professional. Mentoring is especially valuable in advancing women’s careers by providing relatable examples, encouragement and inspiration.

Indeed, the goal is to encourage young women to pursue their dream careers. The program provides a safe space for discussion, self-reflection and personal development. We believe that mentoring will help the students get the most of their studies and later career by offering tools for structural thinking and information on available career options.

Benefits of mentoring

Benefits of mentoring for the mentee include improved self-awareness and self-confidence, enhanced opportunities for career enhancement, expanded networks and learning. In brief, the role of a mentor is to:

  • Help clarify the mentee’s development needs and assist with career planning.
  • Assist them in establishing realistic goals and planning how to achieve them.
  • Show the big picture and provide guidance and viewpoints that mentees would otherwise not consider.
  • Challenge the mentee to consider their opportunities and problems, personal strengths and weaknesses by asking probing questions, listening and providing feedback.
  • Act as a sounding board when the mentee has major decisions to make and needs to talk them through.
  • Provide support and encouragement.
  • Provide straight answers and advice, or share personal stories, if explicitly requested.
  • Act as a gateway to other people and sources of knowledge. Provide exposure to different people and ‘open doors’ for mentee.

Mentoring vs. coaching

Mentoring has some key differences as compared to coaching. In short, mentoring has a broader focus on the mentee’s personal development. Indeed, Mentors are not required to work in the same field as their mentee or share the exact same career aspirations – the idea is to learn and gain new perspectives. Coaching on the other hand can be quite narrowly focused on training for a particular job interview, for example. Keys to a successful mentoring relationship are commitment, mutual trust and the will to develop.

Characteristics of an effective mentor Characteristics of an effective mentee
  • Willing to commit the time
  • Interested in helping others develop
  • Good listener, interpersonal and conflict resolution skills
  • Comfortable giving honest, constructive feedback
  • Be non-judgemental
  • Comfortable with own status and accomplishment
  • Able to gain access to relevant information and resources
  • Able to share relevant professional experience
  • Able to determine how mentee learns best
    and emphasize mentee’s strengths
  • Willing to commit the time
  • Desires to be developed
  • Keeps an open mind
  • Open to feedback
  • Good listener
  • Able to ask clarification questions
  • Willing to follow up and stay connected
  • Motivated to inquire about personal development
  • Desires professional accomplishment

Meet our mentors

Cindy Svetkow, Analyst

My name is Cindy Svetkow and I’ve been involved with transactions at EY for a couple of years now. Back in high school, I studied advanced mathematics and physics. I enjoyed being able to formulate and solve problems and I was assured that the analytical mindset would be a competitive edge for me later on. I considered applying for industrial engineering or business studies, and finally went for Accounting at Aalto University. I did not have a clear vision of how my career would unfold but I figured that in any position it would be beneficial to understand financial reporting as it is the language of business.

I remember discussing my future plans with my Mentor when I was a starting my Master’s studies and still struggling with who I wanted to become professionally and what career to pursue. I have always been interested in psychology and sociology and I want to understand people’s motivations. I had this vague idea that I wanted to do something that matters and has an impact on the lives of others. My Mentor brought up transactions and here we are.

Transactions are about creating something entirely new: they can shape industries and change lives. Indeed, there is always the human element in every transaction, as organizations are only collections of people and deals make them excited and nervous. Often our job is to advise our clients on the single most important decision their lives and careers. I feel privileged to be in such a position of trust. Of course, no project is ever delivered alone. No matter how complex the project or how tight the reporting timeline, we always pull through together as a team. When we deliver our final report and our advice to the client – and later read about the deal in Kauppalehti – I can be proud of what we have achieved as a team and the part we have played in building something new.

I get my inspiration and energy from other people, and I’m always ready to have a good laugh. I love the outdoors and spend as much of my free time hiking in the woods as possible. I also enjoy reading, writing and long conversations with good friends.

The most important realization after graduation is that I am in charge of my own career, and when surrounded by the right people, I can achieve anything. As a result of repeatedly challenging myself at work, I have started to really believe in myself and my capabilities. That is exactly why I signed up to become a Mentor: to be able to encourage other young women to ruthlessly chase their dreams and to provide structure into thinking what will be their avenue to success.

Lili Kirikal, Senior Manager

I am a Senior Manager and have been with EY Transaction Advisory Services for 11 years – initially in Tallinn and now in Helsinki. I studied at Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and had my exchange studies at HANKEN in Helsinki. Additionally, I have the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) certificate.

I have to admit that I knew very little about economics before going to the university, so I ended up in the world of business as a bit of an accident J However, it turned out to be one of the best things in my life because I found it truly interesting and challenging for myself. Still, I could have ended up as a doctor, journalist or engineer just as easily.

Before joining EY, I worked for PwC, starting from their assurance department. This was a carefully considered decision because I could have chosen to continue at an investment bank after my internship, continue contributing to a journal on macroeconomic reviews, or continue my teaching assistant position at two universities. Should I be assigned as your mentor, I’ll be happy to share my insights from those and a few additional opportunities!

Today, I am at EY because of the constant learning and self-development opportunity that my job provides me with. I love my team, my clients and the fact that I barely feel we have country-based borders. Additionally, even though the working hours can be hectic, I very much appreciate the flexibility because I have a bit unusual hobby that is important to me – singing in a choir – that takes a lot of my time, including sometimes during business hours.

I would love to be your mentor because I have a great passion for teaching and passing on knowledge, and helping people succeed. I have been a mentor in my own university, teaching assistant in four different courses at two different universities, and I have had many counselees within EY – all of those experiences have been most rewarding to me, so I know I will truly enjoy being your mentor as well.

Karoliina Nokelainen, Senior Analyst

I’m Karoliina Nokelainen, one of the mentors in the EY Female Student Mentoring Program. I’m excited that we as EY can offer this opportunity to female students who would benefit from having someone providing guidance and acting as a “sounding board” for their ideas and goals.

I would have been overjoyed if I had had a mentor as a student, especially when I was facing a tough decision on which university major to choose while studying at Aalto University School of Business. I remember that it was difficult to truly understand what kind of different career paths one could have when choosing a certain major. I ended up selecting Finance, which turned out to be the right major for me, as I have always adored math and problem solving. On my free time you can bump into me in Escape rooms in Helsinki, trying to solve mysteries, or in a painting class, which is one of my new hobbies on top of playing the piano.

I have worked in Valuation, Modeling and Economics team within EY’s Transaction Advisory Services for close to three years, and during that time I have coached, guided and supported the more junior team members. Assisting my teammates, supporting them in growing and passing knowledge have all been a great pleasure. I’m looking forward to being your mentor and helping you to feel confident in identifying and achieving your own goals and path to success.

In addition to EY, I have worked at OP Markets as a derivatives dealer and in Nordea Markets in asset sales. I have also done a two-year internship at PwC in Corporate tax group, focusing on international and domestic tax legislation. Hence, I’m happy to share my thoughts and experiences from being an M&A advisor, working in a fascinating dealing hall with financial instruments, and also from the constantly moving world of taxation.

Katriina Kirjalainen, Analyst

It was a bright Tuesday morning in May one and half years ago and I still remember feeling a bit nervous but also very curious at the same time. However, the word “self-confidence” is not how I would describe my feelings in the morning after the First of May celebration – the same morning that was also my very first day in EY’s Transaction Advisory Services. In other words, I am an analyst working in EY TAS and, more specifically, in the Transaction Diligence team. We focus on the business drivers of the target company, analyzing the historical performance and financial position and challenging the management’s business forecast.

My path to EY was quite straight-forward and even prior to joining EY TAS, I knew I was fascinated by the world of transactions and would also like to start my professional career within M&As. During my studies I realized that in transactions you are able to be in a vantage point into business world and have inside information before the public. However, I did not always know I would study in the field of business at all. In the second high school year I was still confident I will become a lawyer and, even more specifically, a prosecutor. I have always enjoyed puzzles and logical thinking. Additionally, I am a big fan of Nordic criminal novels and American law and criminal series. Somehow, I imagined that the life of a Finnish prosecutor would be like that of Alicia Florrick’s in Good Wife. Unfortunately, at some point during high school the reality came out and I realized that the picture I had from American TV shows may not resemble the reality at all. Additionally, my high school student counsellor suggested I should consider business studies due to my strong mathematical background and logical thinking. This is how I finally ended up to Aalto University School of Business. Choosing accounting as a major felt like a natural choice due to its numerical character.

Prior to joining EY I worked in not only one but two other Big4 firm: first as an audit trainee and then as an M&A analyst, doing similar projects as currently. Additionally, I have experience from the corporate side as well. I chose EY because numerous of my student friends worked in EY and I thought that if they can recommend EY as an employer and enjoy working there, so would I. On top of that, EY TAS is the biggest transaction team and involved in the biggest transactions in Finland.

I have a deep passion for running and aerobics. There is a big change that you could come across me running around Töölönlahti or Seurasaari or share an aerobics class in Elixia. Even though I truly enjoy morning runs in Seurasaari when it is only me and the squirrels, my greatest love is cross country skiing. Unfortunately, the winter in Southern Finland is more often than not mild and rainy. Hence, around Eastern Holidays I tend to travel to Lapland for having a real cross country ski holiday. Besides of sports, I love travelling and exploring new countries. Currently, my friends and I are planning a sailing trip in the Caribbean for 2020.

When I think of mentoring, a quote from Phil Collins comes to my mind: “In learning you will teach, in teaching you will learn.” I am truly excited about being a mentor. If I am somehow able to advise someone on their career choices and other struggles in life, I will feel I have achieved my mission. At the beginning of mentoring program, I will probably feel the same as my first day in EY: a bit nervous but very curious. Even if day by day I am further away from my own student life, I have not been willing to cut the links into University and student life. Since my first days in EY I have been actively involved in student collaboration, which I have really loved. I am confident that EY Student Female Mentoring Program will be one more remarkable experience EY can offer me – and you!



If you are interested, apply now at http://m.rfer.us/EYSvVQD7R. We are looking forward to receiving your application by the 16th of December 2018 latest.