Developing Leaders Program Mentee Interview

It’s no exaggeration to say that a great mentorship can be a life-altering experience. The right mentor prepares young people to succeed in their chosen fields. On the flip side, supporting mentees is a great way to ensure the talent pipeline and future success of the mentor’s industry. Mentors help prepare mentees for professional careers and teach valuable workplace skills like how to realize workplace goals, how to network for growth, how to find the right job, and can even introduce them to people and organizations they need to know to enhance their careers.

The LightBox Developing Leaders Program is on a mission to create leaders in due diligence and risk management in commercial real estate (CRE) lending and environmental consulting. Having recently wrapped its first year, we’ve found the Program to be enormously successful for both mentors and mentees. To highlight the Program’s success, we’ve asked Chelsea Halley Ferrara, a prior mentee to share her experience in the LightBox Developing Leaders Program. Chelsea is currently a Division Environmental Manager at Lennar.

How the Developing Leaders Program Led to a New Career Opportunity

When Chelsea started the program, she was living in Austin, TX working for an environmental consulting firm, but she wanted to move to North Carolina. The Developing Leaders Program helped her achieve her goal. 

“I’m from the northeast and moved to Austin for grad school,” Chelsea shares. “I wanted to move to North Carolina to be back on the east coast and closer to family. While in Charlotte for a job interview, I reached out to some other contacts I met through the Developing Leaders Program. One of those contacts connected me to someone at my current company, and here I am today!”

What it’s Like to Work with a Developing Leaders Mentor

Chelsea got involved in the Developing Leaders Program because she was seeking a mentor in her industry, but not someone she worked with like a current or previous manager. It was important to her to connect with someone who understood the industry but wasn’t coming to the relationship with any connection to her specific job history. 

Chelsea was paired with Elizabeth Krol as her mentor and has enormous gratitude for Krol’s support and guidance. Krol is a highly regarded expert in environmental and real estate due diligence, with a career that features multiple awards and positions within various professional groups. Additionally, having a female mentor was important to Chelsea, as she has found the field of environmental and real estate due diligence and consulting is predominantly male. She wanted a female who understood what it’s like to be a woman in a male dominated field. 

“My mentor Elizabeth Krol, has been a wonderful support system. She helped me prepare for the job interviews I had in North Carolina and helped me navigate the transition to a new company,” Chelsea says. “It was valuable hearing her perspective about her past experiences with different roles in different companies. In addition to specific job guidance, she also offered great career advice. Although the program has ended, my relationship with Elizabeth has not. We still chat frequently and I feel like I can still turn to her for career or life advice. I hope to be her lifelong mentee!”

Krol helped Chelsea feel highly supported in her career trajectory, advising her on how to achieve her goals. Chelsea found that Krol offered her a unique perspective and advice, while being a safe space where she could discuss career issues that she could not discuss with coworkers.

The Developing Leaders Program and Career Growth

The Developing Leaders Program has greatly impacted Chelsea’s career trajectory and has taught her lessons that will remain with her as she navigates her future.

“The skills I learned in the program have helped me effectively steer my career. Not only has having a mentor been beneficial for my current job, but it’s also been beneficial for my career as a whole,” Chelsea says. “The program taught me the value of networking and how to create long-lasting professional relationships.”

Chelsea also found that the program was well organized and offered an ideal amount of structure. The program allows mentors and mentees to have scheduled conversations about topics discussed during the program, as well as the freedom to discuss topics outside of the mentorship program. Additionally, all of the mentors are available to each mentee in the program, and Chelsea was grateful to have the opportunity to reach out to other mentors for advice if she needed to. 

A huge part of the group’s success according to Chelsea was its cohesiveness, which helped her feel like she was truly part of a team. 

“This past January I had the opportunity to meet many of the mentors and mentees at an environmental Bankers Association conference in Phoenix. I genuinely feel like I am part of something larger than a one-year program. Because of the relationships I’ve built during the program and the support of all the mentors and mentees, the Developing Leaders Program feels more like a lifelong network than a one-year program,” Chelsea shares.

Chelsea would encourage anyone thinking about it to apply to The Developing Leaders Program.

“From our webinars and group discussions, I can see how the program positively affected everyone who participated,” Chelsea claims. “The program is what you make of it and can be catered to fit your needs. Who wouldn’t benefit from the wisdom and experience of someone further along in their career?”

Maybe one day we’ll see Chelsea back in The Developing Leaders Program.

“I would be honored to return to the program as a mentor in the future!” Chelsea said. 

We are looking forward to following along with the next class of Developing Leaders. While applications for this year are now closed, interested parties can email for more information about applications for next year. And for more information about the Developing Leaders Program, click here.