New D&I mentorship program connects employees to support career growth

September 19, 2021
Rod Willett, long-term Schwab leader, shares what it's been like for him to participate in a mentorship program designed for employees of color.

By Rod Willett, Director, Brokerage Services

I celebrated my 30th anniversary with Schwab this past June. I’ve always believed that no matter how long you’ve been with a company, there’s always room to learn and grow. So, I was excited to participate in Schwab’s new mentorship program focused on career growth for employees of color. I saw the opportunity to grow my professional network, and by being paired with a senior leader from outside my organization, I knew I would get exposure to a whole new set of experiences and ideas. In short, I thought it would make me a better leader and prepare me for the next professional opportunity.

I was paired with Erin Amerlan, a managing director in Corporate Risk Management. We instantly connected in our first meeting and I walked away thinking, “That’s a perfect match.” She’s helping me build my strength in three areas: change management, strategy, and communication. We explore what I need to do to advance my leadership capabilities, what success looks like at the next level, what skills are critical, and how I can build them today. I want to know how I can be a better leader for Schwab, today and tomorrow.

Since the mentorship program is designed specifically to support employees of color, I also view participation as an opportunity to lead by example. Communicating a need for support can potentially be at odds with an individual’s belief in how to demonstrate strength and understanding of the business and how to advance, so they may be reluctant to seek a mentor.

I would like to show that having a mentor is okay and opens doors.


If a Black man like me – who has held a multitude of positions over a 30-year career at Schwab, including leadership roles – can benefit from mentorship, so can other employees of color. Mentorship is a good thing; it’s opportunity.

- Rod Willett, Leadership Mentee

Schwab’s mentorship program offers structure and guidance to ensure individual success.

In addition to trainings, mentees are also part of a cohort group that meets periodically for team building. We share our experiences, talk about what’s working well and what would improve the program. It’s an exploration of what we’ve learned from our own experiences to ensure the program is even better for the next group. 

Mentees have a lot to gain from this program, and so does Schwab. This program will help develop more leaders who understand the needs of our diverse clients. A broad set of experiences will unleash more creative outcomes and innovation, which will be a win for our clients. 

I never thought I’d be at Schwab this long. When I took my first job here as a financial services professional in the service center, I thought I’d just try it out and move on. But I discovered there’s something special here.

This is a company that truly cares about its clients and its employees, and its commitment to diversity and inclusion is proof of that.  


About the author:

Rod Willett joined Schwab in 1991 as a licensed financial services professional where he achieved the highest customer service scores for three consecutive quarters, leading Chuck to sit and listen in on his calls to hear how they went. Since then he’s held positions in training, quality assurance, client banking service, and more. Today he is a director leading a team of brokerage service representatives within Schwab’s Client Service & Support organization. He has long been a member of Black Professionals at Charles Schwab and helped launch the firm’s newest employee resource group, NEXT. 

Schwab is proud to support a culture that allows employees to bring their best selves to work—whether that’s in the office or remote.

Visit our careers site to see open positions and make sure to ask about our Workplace Flexibility Program.