Paying It Forward: Career Guidance from a True Mentor

Brendan Anderson, Marketing & Communications VISTA
November 23rd, 2016
Posted In: Campaigns, In Real Life, Mentoring Stories

When Thanksgiving approaches each November, we reflect on those we’re most grateful for. On social media, many people are taking the time to thank mentors who were there at critical moments in their lives with #ThankYourMentor. On our blog, we are featuring poignant stories from mentors and mentees who know the impact of mentoring first-hand. This story comes from Saba Karim who strongly believes in the power of relationships.

Not many people start a digital marketing agency senior year of high school. Of those who do, very few can claim to have developed a motivational video series engaging 100,000 people around the world. Yet Saba Karim can. Saba has worked in communications and marketing in both the United States and his native Australia and now works as the Creative Director of StartupCMO in Boston, Massachusetts. He has come a long way, both professionally and geographically, but is proud to say he did not do it alone.


Saba Karim and Mario Pavlou

Saba attributes much of his success to the influence of Mario Pavlou, a coworker who quickly became his mentor while they were working at a telecommunications company in Australia. “Mario saw something in me,” Saba explains. “He saw I liked going above and beyond my role and started inviting me for coffee once a week.” Over the course of those weekly conversations, Mario listened intently to the self-described “crazy” ideas Saba was too nervous to share in meetings and encouraged him not limit himself. “Don’t worry about the things you’re not doing,” he said one day. “Just focus on your strengths.” Saba followed this advice faithfully, earning a promotion to work directly with the company’s CEO, before Mario encouraged him to go work for himself.


Peter Pavlou and Saba Karim

They stayed in touch after Saba left the company. Instead of meeting for coffee, Saba began going to the Pavlou house where Mario introduced him to his son. Peter Pavlou had heard a great deal about Saba from his father and eagerly sought his advice about career, school, and anything else he could think of. Soon, Saba became a mentor to the son of the man who had supported and encouraged him. More and more often, when he went to the Pavlou house, Saba and Peter would shoot hoops while talking and planning, sharing hopes and dreams that inspired the other.

You never know the impact you have: that’s one of the main messages that continues to resonate with Saba. It’s a phrase told by a former and grateful mentor of Saba’s who was inspired by his mentee to quit his job and find one better suited to him, but it’s a lesson you can hear in Saba’s passion for mentoring and the work he now does helping start-up organizations stake their claim in the marketplace. Saba’s journey is impressive, but at every step you see the little efforts it took for someone to make a huge difference. From coffee to hoops, the lives of Saba, Mario, and Peter were changed irrevocably for the better by simple acts of kindness, actions they continue to pay forward.

Saba Karim thanks his mentors for inspiring him to pursue his passions and push his limits. To share your story and earn donations for MENTOR: the National Mentoring Partnership, post to social media with the hashtag #ThankYourMentor and take a small action that goes a long way.


9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.

One Comment

  • Zahra says:

    Wow! This is so inspiring. I am on the look out for a mentor myself. I should look to Saba Karim for advice. Great article! Love the photos as well.

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