Coping with the death of a mentor

Through our #AATPowerUp series, we’ve been looking at mentoring and the many benefits to be had by becoming a mentor or mentee.

A great example of this is Yoav Low, who had a great relationship with his own mentor, before he unexpectedly passed away. Things could easily have spiralled out of control for Yoav at this point, but he continued to progress in his career and now feels a strong drive to become a mentor in the future.

Meeting his mentor

Yoav met Stuart Epstein through the ORT JUMP programme, a mentorship scheme which links sixth-form students to business leaders, and the rest is history.

Stuart was CEO of Spring Finance at the time, a mortgage lending company based in Elstree and Borehamwood. He was well known in his community for his charity work, and spent a lot of time mentoring young people through ORT UK.

Getting real life experience

The programme was supposed to stick to a set list of topics, but Stuart did it his way instead. The two met up several times before Stuart offered Yoav a job working as a finance assistant for one day a week. Happily, that increased to two days a few months later.

Midway through Yoav’s second year at sixth form college, Stuart asked him if he’d like to do an apprenticeship with Spring Finance. “It was not something they do on a regular basis, but he really liked the work I was doing and what I was bringing to the company,” says Yoav.

Taking on the apprenticeship was exciting and daunting at the same time. Initially, Yoav felt a lot of pressure to prove he was worth the investment.

But Stuart’s guidance helped with assessment nerves, and Yoav was pleasantly surprised when he passed the first round of exams.

“When I passed straight away, it was a realisation that I could do it. I’d been shown how to approach my studies and revision. I knew that accountancy was something I would be able to do long term” said Yoav.

Stuart was a very nurturing, laid-back and considerate mentor, and tried to make his advice fun and memorable.

Losing a valued mentor

Out of the blue, Stuart died suddenly in December 2016, aged just 44.

His death was devastating for those who knew him, and Yoav had lost the one man responsible for his career.

“I felt like I’d go back to square one,” he says. “I would have to start figuring out again what I was going to do.”

The loss of his mentor hit him hard – suddenly he didn’t have the guidance and reassurance that he’d been able to fall back on since he’d started at Spring Finance.

Eventually, however, he had a revelation: “I came to the realisation that I was doing this for Stuart as much as me. It was down to him that I was where I was. I felt like I owed him.”

Keeping your long term goal in mind

Yoav went on to successfully complete his studies, achieving the professional MAAT status, and started studying with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Yoav’s work also continues successfully at Spring Finance and involves managing costs, forecasting and data analysis. He even oversaw the company’s move to new accounting software and also helps out with sales and marketing.

The loss of Stuart could have derailed things for Yoav, but instead, he embodied the lessons learned from his mentor and was able to move forward confidently.

“Instead of thinking about it too much and going over what might happen,” he says, “the best thing is to stop, think about where you are, realise how far you’ve come and then continue with that”.

Yoav’s long-term goal is to move into a finance manager role within the next few years, eventually working his way up to FD or CFO. He hopes he can do that at Spring Finance.

From mentee to mentor

From feeling completely lost in the face of poor AS level grades, Yoav is now aiming for a move into a finance manager role with designs on Finance Director in the future.

Perhaps most importantly, one of Yoav’s biggest ambitions for the near-future is to become a mentor himself and continue the great work Stuart was doing.

“I want to be able to do what Stuart did for me,” Yoav says. “He always told me that he started mentoring so that, in years to come, I’d be able to mentor his children or people his children’s age. He wanted me to be able to pass it on.”

Yoav Low, MAAT

To become a mentor yourself, share what you know and help people like Yoav to turn their life around, check out some of our resources on mentoring below, and remember to follow our #AATPowerUp series for the latest on the subject.

The content team are the owners of AAT Comment.

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