After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Angelo Pitassi ’03 MBA started two businesses—an e-commerce company focused on meeting needs of Rhode Island’s jewelry manufacturing industry and a consumer-focused health technology company that was inspired by his youngest son’s diagnosis with type-one diabetes.
A successful entrepreneur in his own right, Angelo now channels his time into building corporate educational relationships for the College of Online Education. As our Business Development Specialist, he works closely with university leadership and organizations across all industries to bring online education to America’s workforce.
Much of his success, he says, can be attributed to the multiple mentors he’s had over the years.
How have your mentors shaped your career?
I have had three mentors I could turn to if I needed someone. They are all people who have been successful at balancing work, family, and life, and for that, I respect them immensely. They are entrepreneurs who have had successful deals and some failures, both of which have taught them a great deal. In my personal experience, I find that my mentors are willing to share their stories with me, which have impacted my career and how I’ve approached business. They are my unbiased sounding board on many topics. When I get distracted or ahead of myself, they keep me focused. And they celebrate with me when I have both big and small victories.
What, specifically, have you learned from your mentors?
People often forget that mentors have networks too. In my experience, my mentors have always been willing to introduce me to people in their circles, which has led to several business opportunities. Being a part of this environment helped me to navigate situations that were uncertain or downright scary. They’ve also taught how to be accepting of constructive criticism. I now understand that being able to do this has made me a better person, both professionally and personally.
What kind of advice would you give to an entrepreneur who is looking for a mentor?
Ask yourself if you are ready to be mentored. Are you willing to open up to someone, trust them, and be willing to accept constructive criticism and implement that criticism? In order to have a successful relationship with a mentor, you need to be coachable.
If you decide you are ready, you need to determine what you are trying to achieve. Is it personal development, professional development, or something career-focused? Select a potential mentor based on your area of focus.
Make yourself available to find a potential mentor. Attend local events such as professional networking events or industry meetups. Volunteer time in areas that have meaning to you and meet new people that align with what you are trying to achieve. Consider browsing online networking groups, such as LinkedIn.
Finally, let the mentor earn your trust too. When you’re trying to build trust, it’s a two-way street. It is always a good idea to set some baseline expectations so that both of you know what may be involved in this relationship. And don’t be afraid to vet your mentors because not everyone will be a good fit for you! In my experience, I have been through two different “CEO speed-dating” events where founding CEOs like myself spent hours meeting various potential mentors. I found that it’s necessary to filter the prospects down to a select few.
What makes someone a good mentor?
In my opinion, a mentor needs to take the time initially—by being available, listening to what their mentee has to say, and trusting their mentee—to identify the mentee’s true self. It is then up to the mentor to coach and guide their mentee to be his or her best self and help them toward the personal or professional goal they are trying to achieve. This is in line with the Michelangelo Phenomenon, where the mentor becomes the sculptor and helps shape the mentee into the best version of himself.
Johnson & Wales University offers an online BSBA – Entrepreneurship degree. For more information, complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881.