Mentorship: A Conversation with Women for Nature’s Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese
Featuring Women for Nature member’s Sharolyn Mathieu Vettese. Written by fellow Women for Nature member Marsha Mann.
M: When were you a mentor?
S: My first, and only experience as a mentor was to a top 20 under 20 women in Canada. She had wanted a mentor who was political and environmental. Since David Suzuki’s daughter was unavailable, the organization approached me, and of course I agreed. I had been a Green Party candidate both federally and provincially, and I was also an environmentalist. I believe in democracy, and the importance of having a choice on the ballot, and to step up when needed to make things happen. My participation brought about several changes, such as candidates having their parties along with their names listed on the ballot. I practice environmentalism every day to reduce waste, and be considerate of the wildlife around me. I took every opportunity to educate my own children about the importance of our environment and worked toward reducing my family’s carbon footprint.
I met my mentee when she was just graduating from high school. She was academically accomplished and a school leader. She was confident, had ambitious goals, and she was going to change the world. I thought this arrangement would last one year during her first year at university, but it lasted for 5 until she had got her Masters from Oxford University. It was satisfying for me to see someone I had been there for doing well and making changes in world. If I can do it again and make a difference I would. The world is changing rapidly, climate change is already happening exponentially and we need strong leaders who can help our planet. So, when Jodi asked me to consider being a mentor for Women for Nature, I said sure.
M: How did you arrange your meetings with your mentee?
S: I made myself available by any form of communication including phone, text, email, and, of course, in person. I have not yet been matched with the Women for Nature mentor program, but I am looking forward to it in the next round.
M: How is mentoring different than say, coaching or managing?
S: Managing is more about expectations, especially work, but mentoring is about caring about the whole person. It is more like nurturing. Whatever she was facing, or needed I was there to support her. Her family gave me a plant to thank me for being the soil that made her grow.
M: What inspired you to become involved with Women for Nature?
S: I was one of the first women who donated to Nature Canada in a significant way for over 30 years. Jodi said she wanted to engage and involve more women like me who are committed to nature, which became known as “Women for Nature”. I think it is important for women to choose their own causes, and be leaders in those causes. For me, it is the preservation of our wilderness.
M: Who inspired you?
S: My father was always very supportive of whatever initiative I wanted to take. He had an adventurous spirit, and was always willing to try something new. He wasn’t afraid. I later appreciated how big of a person he was since he had four daughters and no sons at a time when sons were preferred. He never made us feel we were second-rate. He encouraged all of us to go to university at a time when many women weren’t. My father made me feel I wasn’t handicapped being a woman. My mother was more traditional, and supportive in other ways, but I think my father was the bigger influence in my life. He was an original thinker. He got me thinking how important it is to get women in a leadership position to implement gender equality, and be environmentalists if there is going to be a cultural shift.
M: Sharolyn is still an environmentalist. Her company, SMV Energy Solutions offers services in cap and trade, and provides simple smart solutions to reduce energy consumption which positively impact the triple bottom line. It was a pleasure to spend time with Sharolyn and getting to know her.