Mentoring - A Selfless Act



Nishaal Prasad is a selfless man – he believes people become a better version of themselves when they act selflessly. This is one of the reasons Nishaal (pictured left with mentee, Cameron Guy) chose to become a First Foundation Mentor.

He also became a Mentor because he was once a Mentee himself. He knew from experience the effect a Mentor could have on a young person and he wanted to potentially be a positive influence on someone’s success in life.

“Having the opportunity to provide mentoring has, to some degree, completed my First Foundation 'circle of life',” Nishaal says. “I firmly acknowledge I’m the person I am today because somebody decided to mentor me.”

Nishaal says that by focusing his energy on helping someone else, he provides a valuable service both to his Mentee and himself.

The Class of 2006 Scholarship recipient was sponsored by ASB Bank and is now currently the Senior Manager - External Reporting Assurance at the Bank of New Zealand. He says it is difficult to quantify the impact First Foundation has had on his career.

“Setting aside monetary contribution, this award provides a 'hand up' to a breadth of offerings - the network of driven young people, the guidance and support of a Mentor and other seasoned professionals, the exposure and experience of partnering organisations, all brought together by the First Foundation family.”

That is just the tip of the iceberg, he adds. “The practical experience I obtained working for the ASB Bank has been second to none. Being exposed to a commercial environment at an early stage of my career has provided the confidence and self-esteem which other scholarships simply do not offer.”

In 2017, Nishaal came on board as a Mentor to provide mentoring and support through the transition from high school to university, and then on to the workforce.

Mentoring is important for a number of reasons, Nishaal says. “Mentors give encouragement to sustain motivation. There were times that, if there wasn't a Mentor there for me, I could have easily caved-in emotionally, but they never let me give up.”

Mentors are a good sounding board and Mentees can bounce ideas off them for an unfiltered opinion; they also give a fresh perspective on an issue or problem, Nishaal adds. “They can see where we need to improve where we often cannot. The constructive criticism my Mentors offered helped me see things in myself that I could not recognise. I appreciated that insight because I didn't want someone to pad my ego, and instead I wanted to know exactly where I was lacking so I could improve.”

Connecting and building a trusting relationship is a key to mentoring, Nishaal continues. “Developing a trusting relationship takes time and effort and Mentees cannot always articulate what they want from their mentoring relationship openly. Therefore, Mentors need to actively work on strategies to build clear and trusted relations.”

It is important to help your Mentee set goals by communicating the objectives, supplying them with the necessary tools, and constant feedback to monitor progress by continuous check-ins with each other.

When asked why others should become a First Foundation Mentor, Nishaal says the concept of being selfless resonates. “Think about the impact you can make on someone else’s life and chances are, as their first point of contact, your Mentee will look up to you and your experience.”

He says Mentors certainly have a huge influence on their Mentee’s career and life outlook. “Mentors have the opportunity to build up someone’s skill-set and confidence – and that’s a relationship not easily forgotten.”

Finally, he says it is hugely satisfying - the idea of enlightening another person’s life will always add additional happiness to yours.

First Foundation is currently recruiting Mentors across the Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin regions, to help achieve its mission “to assist academically talented New Zealand students worthy of support to achieve their potential through tertiary education, and to prepare them to positively influence and benefit their communities".

Visit for more information on how to become a First Foundation mentor.

“Mentors have the opportunity to build up someone’s skill-set and confidence – and that’s a relationship not easily forgotten.”