Pro Tip: In this Thanksgiving season, a father and son provide Pro Tips on mentoring and career development that everyone can share with their friends, family and coworkers to make a stronger baking industry.


Never has good mentoring been more important for today’s leaders than now. I serve as an example of a 40-year work in process and thankfully have many active mentors still in my life.

One of my favorite interview questions is asking someone to tell me about a person who made a difference in their professional development or took them under their wing. Everyone always provides a name and describes someone that took time to care, challenge, nurture and mostly listen.

If the position I’m trying to fill happens to be a leadership one, then I follow up by passing them a piece of paper and request that they write down a name and phone number of at least one person I could call who would name them as one of their mentors.

That’s because I’m interested in hiring and working with individuals who have risen to a position in leadership by building a network of other successful individuals all linked to the common goal of “paying it forward” — not climbing the ladder by stepping on the backs of others who are seen as disposable.

Most people know that all three of my kids work in this industry, just like me and my father have. I recently asked my youngest son if he’d be interested in helping me mentor my newest associate and contribute something for this Pro Tip article. The following is what I received.

After you read it, I’d ask that you to do two things for me. Call at least one of your mentors and thank them. Two, schedule some time to mentor others.

Written by Mitch Brixey: An effective mentorship requires both a highly skilled mentor and a mentee with a willingness to listen and learn. It’s a team effort that, when functioning properly, should build up each party both personally and professionally.

A good mentor not only shows a protégée how to do the job, but how to enjoy it as well. I travelled with my father for more than a year when first learning this business.

Once I started doing proofer, oven and cooler inspections on my own, I realized I had also learned how to navigate a life of travel while prioritizing family because I had seen my father do it all year.

In the hazardous field of bakery engineering, mentorship is also a delicate balance between progress and safety, where removing the training wheels too quickly can endanger the mentee. The nature of this relationship encourages both trust and friendship. As a result, work-based mentorships tend to permeate into every area of life and form lasting bonds.

Spending the last few years in a work-based mentorship learning from my father has exponentially accelerated my progress learning the trade, but it has also brought us closer together as father and son and helped us to better understand one another.

Rowdy Brixey is founder and president of Brixey Engineering Inc.

You can connect with him at LinkedIn.