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Award-winning Mongolian lawyer discusses her motivations for becoming a mentor

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Baasanjargal Khurelbaatar is a lawyer and volunteer business mentor for Youth Business International (YBI) member, Youth Business Mongolia. We interviewed her to find out about her mentoring experiences and how her background helps her to support entrepreneurs.

Please tell us a little about your background, education and training before getting to where you are now.

I graduated with a Law degree in 2004 and I received my Lawyer’s licence in 2005. After that, I worked as an advocate in collaboration with civil law firms. Now I work for the ELC, a Mongolian law firm, where I have been for over six years. In my current role, I handle business, organise company charters, and liaise with shareholders.

Please tell us about your recent accolade – The 2018 Annual IBA (International Bar Association) Pro Bono Award.

Each winter in Mongolia, it is common practice to organise horse-racing for children - the conditions are extremely dangerous and difficult. I advised several NGOs in Mongolia to ban this practice and led a legal effort to seek remedies through the Mongolian court system and government. I received special recognition and an international award for this case because it was the first of its kind in the country. The selection for the award began in March 2018 and I was included in the shortlist along with eight other lawyers. The award ceremony took place in October 2018 in Rome, Italy, where the final result was declared that I had won!

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

Youth Business Mongolia approached me to become a mentor. At that time, I was unsure whether I could but after learning more about it and meeting other mentors, I decided to contact them and become a business mentor. The time I can commit depends on the cases I’m working on. Initially, I had been working on a shareholder case for almost three years , however after that was completed, I had more time to commit to mentoring.

I had also been working on the case against the Mongolian government for two years and after being recognised with the IBA Pro Bono Award, I felt much more confident and prepared to advise and help other people.

How would you describe the job of a mentor?

For me personally, mentoring is more than a superficial relationship focused on achieving short-term goals. In that regard, mentors should help mentees to see things in the bigger picture rather than telling them what they should be doing. Mentors should act as more than advisors - they should engage with mentees as sources of reinforcement and encouragement.

Do you have any examples of what you have helped your mentees to achieve?

One of my mentees runs an agricultural business. My other mentee is an IT entrepreneur and runs a company that is responsible for the implementation of Wifi on mobile transportation systems, especially on local trains. With government organisations as typical clients, my mentee found herself having to alter her contracts each time new functionalities became available in her programs. In order to combat this issue, I helped her to build a sustainable relationship with these state organisations.

How do you benefit personally or professionally from being a mentor?

I find IT very interesting and through working with my mentee, I have improved my knowledge and abilities with IT and computers, things that I needed to improve!

Working with others has become an activity that helps me to relax and makes me happy. While my mentees always express their appreciation for my input, I don’t participate for the gratitude - I genuinely enjoy helping! Also, when I see my mentee’s products for sale, I gain more confidence in myself.  

What advice would you give other mentors who are about to start working with a mentee?

I recommend that all mentors should advise mentees on topics that they know best, not in areas they aren’t familiar with. Play to your strengths, knowledge and experiences. Additionally, it is crucial to remember that the approach that works for one mentee doesn’t always work for others. It’s best to consider each relationship on an individual basis and tailor your mentorship approach specifically for each mentee.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Defining the right approach for each mentee is the best way to build a sustainable mentoring relationship.

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