Campus & Community

The Meaning of Mentorship

Moushmi Culver ’00 is a pharmaceutical executive at Merck & Co., Inc. who was recently honored as part of Yahoo! Finance’s list of 2021 EMpower Ethnic Minority Executives. She ranks sixth out of 100 senior leaders of color “who are leading by example and removing barriers on the pathway to success for ethnic minority employees.”

A member of the Board of Advisors at Stevens’ Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science and an alumna of that school, she received the Young Alumni Achievement Award from Stevens in 2015. A passionate mentor, Culver enjoys sharing lessons she’s learned along her career path with others — and here, she has some thoughts for fellow Stevens alumni.

How have you leveraged your Stevens education in your career?

Stevens has a strong technical degree program, and I feel that I graduated prepared with a solid educational foundation. I also participated in co-op, so I graduated with a technical background complemented with real-world engineering experience. The Stevens education is formatted around two concepts: one is using technology in the classroom, and the other is working in diverse groups and teams in a smaller environment. These experiences prepared me for the workplace.

What advice would you offer women and minorities in navigating their careers?

You need to make sure you surround yourself with people who are going to help support you. That can be in the form of your direct manager, a mentor, a sponsor or a coach. Sometimes, depending on the kind of the job you have, especially in technical areas, you may be faced with challenges especially as a female of color. You can learn to navigate your environment and then strive for a position of leadership where you can impact the culture from your experiences. During my career at Merck, I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing people around me who have supported me and helped me navigate difficult situations as a minority female leader in the company — and now I am able to give back and help others.

Why is mentorship and building a strong support system important for a person’s career?

I think mentorship and support are important because you need to obtain feedback on your areas of strength and development. A mentor can help you address that feedback and give you advice on how to improve. Having a sponsor is also important — they are the ones who help you become known when opportunities arise. I contribute my success to multiple people, one being one of my former managers who is now retired. [He was a diverse leader] and he gave me advice on how to accept feedback, course-correct (because no one is perfect), and continue to improve yourself.

To close, what words of wisdom do you have for fellow alumni?

Be open-minded to try different things and take on challenges. There are roles I’ve had in my career that I didn’t realize I’d be doing. I took some risks, took on some challenges and accepted roles that stretched me.