Mentoring in retirement: ‘It makes things very positive’

Noel Rea retired in 2009 from a highly successful law career that included both public and private practice. And if you ever had the pleasure to have coffee with the poet-warrior, you’d know that being retired really means he has even more time to share his hard-won career knowledge and experience with others!

He’s passing his wisdom onto newcomer lawyers through Mentoring.

Rea is one of the original CRIEC mentors. At age 74, he’s still going strong. An immigrant himself, he arrived in Calgary from Ireland in 1977, and found a job with Imperial Oil—a company he spent nearly three decades with.

We caught up with Noel to talk about why he still mentors—and why mentoring is a good fit for retirees.

What do you enjoy about mentoring in retirement?

At my stage of life, you tend quite often to be looking back. One of the things I enjoy enormously about mentoring is you are working with largely younger people. You’re looking forward with them and planning ahead. It makes things very positive. I get far more out of it than I give.

What have you learned through mentoring?

I’ve mentored three lawyers from Nigeria, one from Pakistan and another from Singapore; as well as many others informally from around the world. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with people who are extremely intelligent and have an enormous amount to give.

One of the things that I try to emphasize, particularly when I’m introducing mentees to people, is they are gifted people who have an incredible skill set and work ethic to bring to Calgary. They’re not going to be a drain on society. They’re going to contribute immensely to our community.

When you arrived in Canada from Ireland, was there a mentoring program to help?

No. One did it on one’s own. I was helped by a number of people — and this is one of the things that I keep emphasizing to people. The whole process of integrating into society is very much one of networking.

The people who helped me were very diverse. I got help from then-mayor of Calgary, Ross Alger. I met him through someone who introduced me to someone else who introduced me to him. Then Ross introduced me to his brother in law, who made a number of approaches on my behalf—and through that I found a job.

Networking and following up and contacting people is extremely important. And it’s also important to reciprocate when you have the opportunity.

What would you say to someone who is considering mentoring?

Do it. It fascinates me that each of the people I’ve worked with, long after the formal mentorship is finished, still want to meet with me. We meet periodically for coffee and lunch. It’s become a real source of friendship.

Noel truly is an icon amongst newcomer lawyers in Calgary, with far-reaching impact as he gently shares his knowledge of law, the legal community and the lawyers within that community. He is a tremendous Mentor. By his actions Noel demonstrates the that he is a firm believer in human rights.

Thank you Noel – for all you do and continue to do!

Learn more about how you can mentor an internationally trained professional. You can also contact Jaya Dharan at or (587) 894-7583 for more information.

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