When Scott Musch changed career paths from investment banking to corporate development, he had to change the way he operated within a team. “New York City investment banking is very results-oriented,” he says. “You have a lot of independent control.” And going from that style to a smaller company was a difficult transition at first.
When he worked in the investment banking world, Musch says he regularly sought out new mentors. They were often high level employees at the same company, or fellow alumni from his undergrad or graduate schools. But now that he’s risen to be Director of Corporate Development at Cambia Health Solutions, Musch says, mentors are a lot harder to find, especially since he was looking for guidance around leadership and team dynamics. “Most of the people that I would naturally want to reach out to to be my mentor were the ones that were in my meetings.”
Luckily, Cambia Health Solutions engaged with Everwise, and Musch was paired with a mentor from outside his organization. His first Everwise partnership was so successful Musch immediately sought out a second partnership and has recently transitioned into being a mentor himself. We asked him about the different challenges he worked on during his partnerships and his advice for first-time proteges.
Tell me a little bit about your first mentorship.
My first mentor, Stuart Long, is the CEO of a private-equity-backed medical technology company. He’s an executive who is very focused on driving results and managing teams. He gave me the view of a leader. He’d say, you know, “As the CEO, this is what I’m expecting from the members of my team, or this was kind of the dynamic in the meeting and as a CEO this is how I would have read it.” So it gave me a good perspective. He helped me step back from my position, and see a different perspective. Why am I doing it this way? Am I trying to solve the wrong problem? Or trying to find a solution for a different problem? He also helped me think through decisions, and helped me understand my goals.
What did you want to work on at the beginning of the mentorship? And did you change course at all?
I wanted to be more of a thought leader and to have more meaningful impact. I was struggling to correctly position myself within the company, and wanted to work on my personal brand. Coming from investment banking into this environment, I’m still commonly known as the investment banker. So I was trying to figure out how to build a brand for myself outside of my reputation as “The Investment Banker”. How could I be more of a member of the Cambia team? There are a lot of different elements to that — how to build your brand, how to substantiate your value, how to manage upward.
And it what did Stuart tell you about all that?
A lot. We had a lot of good conversations. Stuart helped me define what I wanted for myself, and I wanted my department to be. When I started with Stuart there was this unsettled part of me around: Am I in the right position for my skillset? I was interested in talking about personal brand and having a positive impact, finding new ways to contribute and develop. So initially a lot of what we talked about was reading the signals from the organization.
Can you give an example of reading the signals?
Sure, one example is this idea of leading from the shadows. I often run meetings with executives and before I would be front and center, running the agenda, doing the talking on behalf of the team. It wasn’t that I was trying to be the center of attention, but rather that our team members didn’t feel as comfortable talking about the subject to the executives. I have a tendency to fill a vacuum. So it got to the point where whenever executives asked a question, they always looked to me, expecting me to have the answers. What he helped me understand was that I had to learn to be more mindful of the relationships in the room, how I could promote other people, how sitting back is sometimes the best thing to do, and how to support others in a role like that.
For example, it can start as simply as where I sat in the conference room. I always sat in the middle of the table. Front and center in the middle. Stuart encouraged me to sit at the end of the table so I was no longer front and center. And he recommended I no longer lead the agenda, that I have the business lead be the one who starts reading the agenda. I’m there to support. There were a lot of little dynamics I started to deploy that showed a lot of results.
How was your second mentorship different?
The second time around what I tried to do was get a little more specific. I still worked on having impact, but this time it was more about how to manage cross-functional teams to develop that management skill and the other was around informal networking. And so with the second mentorship it was different in the sense that there weren’t a lot of immediate things I was looking for resolution on, but rather thinking broader and putting more of a manager hat on. You know, “How is this working for the team?”
Do you have any advice for first time proteges or mentors?
First of all, you have want to hear the insight and to listen to it. Also, you have to treat your mentor as another view on a situation. They’re not problem solvers. They will give you their professional judgement, they’ll give you new perspectives. But you still have to solve the problem. They’re just going to help you think through different ways that you can use your own skillset to help to solve it.
The other thing is that you have to come prepared. To be candid, there were some days I just had no time to prepare and those conversations were not as high-impact. And that’s my own fault. And so those were not as meaningful. You need to invest some time before your calls with your mentor to get real value out of it. You can’t just wind up on the call and say, “Okay, what are we going to talk about?” That isn’t helpful.
And you’ve become a mentor yourself now, right? How’s that going?
It just started a couple weeks ago and so far so good, we’re having good conversations. And it’s so obvious from my experience how I can give her advice and direction. Because a lot of what she’s going through is not dissimilar to an early experience in my career.