December 1, 2017

VML Leader Honored as Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program’s ‘Corporate Mentor of the Year’

Jason Gaikowski, global lead of business and brand design at VML, has been chosen as the 2017 Corporate Mentor of the Year by the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP). The award was announced at a luncheon on Nov. 29.

Gaikowski mentors three VMLers including Preston Chandler, Jason Schlosser and Janelle Lammers, in addition to four professionals outside the organization including Tobie DePauw, Garrett Davis, Brent Anderson and Jessica Fan.

In some of his mentee's words, "Jason creates productive discomfort. He constantly seeks underlying obstacles to find answers and solutions for shared clarity. When it comes to his mentorship, Jason is focused."

Gaikowski helps his mentees see their goals in a new light and from a different angle. He challenges his mentees to think critically and act intentionally within their career. Above all else, his mentees said Gaikowski demonstrated the creativity and risk to not need permission to go above and beyond and reach their peak.

Tobie DePauw, Gaikowski's mentee of five years, praised his out-of-the-box thinking saying, "Rarely is the word 'amorphous' used as a compliment, but I'd venture to use it as one of Jason's defining qualities. He has a way of working with whoever is around him in a way that is most effective for the moment. I've seen his unique influence in the form of a vapor, changing the nature of people, teams, and brands without leaving a single visible mark."

David Mitchell, executive director of technology at VML, was also honored as a finalist for the award. He serves as a mentor to five VMLers including Cliff Barendsen, Heather Downing, Zack McQuiston, Mohammed Rasoulipour and Patrick Thurmond.

"David is a visionary with an impressive ability to communicate details," Downing said. "It is rare to find someone who can see the big picture and still care about how the most junior person thinks about solving problems."

HEMP began in 1995 and has contributed more than $748 million to the economy. In the past two decades, HEMP has assisted more than 300 Kansas City entrepreneurs.