There’s a simple reason School of Business alumni Jim Majerle and Kevin Simpson got involved in the KU Business Mentoring Program: Both benefitted from mentorship early in their careers.
Now, Majerle and Simpson are sharing their experiences with the next generation of Jayhawks through the KU Business Mentoring Program. The program is designed to connect alumni mentors with student mentees for an extended period of time — typically an academic year, although pairs can continue informally for as long as they want. Mentors help students explore career options, navigate the professional world and share their own experiences and insights.
Jim Majerle and Jason Shindler
Majerle has mentored Jason Shindler, a 2019 accounting graduate currently finishing up his master’s in accounting, since Shindler was just a freshman. Although he someday wanted to be a chief financial officer, Shindler wasn’t sure how to get there and didn’t have family members in the business world he could ask for advice.
Enter Majerle, a finance industry veteran and president of Majerle Capital Ventures. Majerle shed light on what different jobs actually looked like, courses to consider and how to successfully build business relationships.
“You’re trying to teach them, how do you communicate with people?” Majerle explained. “What kind of questions do you ask? How do you have lunch with somebody? How do you go into a meeting or an interview? What are some tactics you can use to have a higher level of self-confidence?”
That practical advice served Shindler well, especially when it came to interacting with recruiters and employers. Before one employer visit, Majerle helped equip him with a list of questions that blew away the recruiter. The company later offered Shindler an internship.
Five years into their relationship, Shindler said the value of having a mentor like Majerle is hard to quantify. The two typically meet in person every few months, but Shindler said their conversations have evolved over time. Earlier in his education, Majerle offered advice about picking a career path, and now he’s shifted to helping Shindler navigate the professional world.
“He’s a great resource, and I’m lucky to have him,” Shindler said.
Kevin Simpson and Luke Ehly
It wasn’t long after Kevin Simpson earned a finance degree in 2015 that he got involved with the Business Mentoring Program.
“Now that I’ve graduated, this gives me another reason to remain connected to the students and feel like I still know what’s going on there,” he explained.
Back in 2017, Simpson was paired with Luke Ehly. Now a senior studying finance and accounting, Ehly entered the mentorship program hoping for guidance.
“I think a big part of it is you want to have someone who can tell you things you might not want to hear but really need to hear, someone who is your rock when you’re struggling with something,” he explained.
Simpson, who worked at Deutsche Bank’s investment banking group in New York City after graduating and is now with Dallas-based private equity firm Kainos Capital, shared his professional experiences and challenges. But Ehly has learned much more from their conversations than career tips.
“A lot of the value comes from things I didn’t even pick up on at the time, just learning to have confidence in myself, knowing that it’s OK when you don’t know something or need to ask a question,” Ehly said.
As he approaches graduation, Ehly expects the relationship to continue and encourages other students to get involved with the Business Mentoring Program.
“Your mentor isn’t interviewing you, they’re not playing a role in whether you’re getting the job you’re applying for or not,” Ehly said. “They’re there to back you up and help you.”