From Usher to Justin Bieber: How Sales Mentorship Can Take Careers to the Next Level

Strong mentor-mentee partnerships don’t thrive without mutual action and shared value. This sales leader from Riskified discusses ways to connect with the right advisor.
June 8, 2022Updated: June 8, 2022

Maya Angelou and Oprah, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Usher and Justin Bieber: What these mentor-mentee pairings have in common is staggering success — built upon the scaffolding of intentional, symbiotic mentorship.

Whether the pairings are star-studded or working-class, mentorships rarely arise organically from their environment. For sales professionals in tech, the onus falls on the potential mentee to seek connections with experts in relevant fields and on potential mentors to create space for them.

“Connections are not made simply by being in the same physical space as someone else, nor are they guaranteed because you happen to get paid by the same company,” wrote Ed Zitron for The Atlantic. “They are actions to be done deliberately, thoughtfully, and consistently.”

Whether the connection is initiated by the mentor or the mentee, the key to nurturing strong mentorship is dedication. While the senior partner certainly carries the heavier weight of contribution, proteges bring valuable experience to the alliance, too.  

“It should be a symbiotic relationship,” Riskified Senior Presales Engineer Morgan Rankey told Built In New York. “Go in with an open mind and aim to provide value.”

Another pivotal element of cultivating fruitful mentorship? Diverse partnership. 

“I would recommend finding mentors inside and outside of the workplace,” said Rankey. “With mentorship within and beyond Riskified, I am able to bring in other unique ideas from tech leaders who have solved issues similar to ours.” 

Unconventional pairings often magnify the mutualistic nature of mentorship: Each party brings a distinctive, lived perspective to the table. It comes as no surprise that sales professionals are made better by their exposure to experts of neighboring fields. 

As many sales professionals can attest — like the 83 percent who reported to Quartz that the wizened experience of mentors helped elevate their career — finding the Elton John to one’s Eminem can be career altering.

“The things my mentors have learned took years to understand and solve,” added Rankey. “I am able to learn how to be more efficient and purposeful through their advice.” 

Built In New York sat down with Riskified to learn more about nurturing impactful mentorships within sales teams.   


Morgan Rankey
Senior Presales Engineer


Riskified is a big data and fintech company that aims to empower businesses to realize the full potential of e-commerce by making it safe and accessible. 


How did you connect with your mentor? 

I actively search for experts in areas where I would like to grow my skills. The sales engineering community is very tight knit with many networking and skill-building opportunities. I joined the PreSales Collective (PSC) and Sales Engineers of New York (SENY) to meet other experts in my field. 

From there, I have been matched with and identified mentors who I speak with often from different parts of the tech world. This allows me to have mentorship within and beyond Riskified — I am able to bring in other ideas from companies who have solved the same issues we have. 

Being a mentee or mentor is a skill within itself. I would recommend finding mentors inside and outside of the workplace. Go in with an open mind and provide value. It should be a symbiotic relationship, but it is okay if one person is providing more value. 

The mentor-mentee relationship takes practice like everything else. Get to know them as a person and ask questions of how you can help as well as for any advice or tips for growing. Lastly, it’s important to note that not every mentor-mentee relationship is a good fit. It often takes meeting multiple people to find the best ones.

Being a mentee or mentor is a skill within itself.” 


What do you two talk about? 

Mentor-mentee relationships talk through many topics. I’d suggest getting to know them as a person first — work experience, interests, family, expertise — and then build topics from there. 

I speak with my mentors about “skilling up,” how to solve my current problems, industry knowledge and general life advice. My mentor-mentee conversations are on a monthly cadence with the ability to make them more frequent.


How has having a mentor changed your career trajectory?

Drastically. My mentors for the most part are tech leaders across the industry. The things they have learned took years to understand and solve: Through their advice, I am able to learn how to be more efficient and purposeful.

No matter what industry you’re in, advice and perspective from a third party is extremely important: It’ll help give you insight into roles you’ve never considered before.



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