National Mentoring Month: For Ciara Lilly, a mentor’s opportunity changed the course of her life

Photo courtesy of Ciara Lilly

January is National Mentoring Month, a campaign launched in 2002 that focuses attention on the need for mentors and promotes opportunities for those who want to get involved. This month, we’re talking to local leaders about their mentors and which mentoring organizations they’re supporting. 


Ciara Lilly, director of business development & diversity, Environmental Service Systems; president/founder, Higher Ground Consulting Group 

Ciara Lilly is proving that living authentically is good for the soul and for business.

With an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for helping businesses — specifically certified diverse and small businesses — Lilly launched Higher Ground Consulting Group to expand her reach and impact in the business community.

As a proud member of the LGBTQ community, Lilly wants to lead by example, showing others what’s possible if you’re willing to put in the work. In her role as a board member for Charlotte’s LBGT Chamber of Commerce, she advocates for the growth of LGBT-owned companies. Lilly’s commitment to the work earned her the Chamber’s 2018 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Photo courtesy of Ciara Lilly

Which mentor has made the biggest impact on where you are today?

The mentor who has made the biggest impact on where I am today is Edgar Ruth, president and founder of Environmental Service Systems. Back in 2012, he provided me with an incredible opportunity to lead the business development efforts for Environmental Service Systems. This opportunity, coupled with his sound leadership, changed the trajectory of my life and equipped me with the business acumen, experience and confidence needed to thrive in any professional arena.

What’s the best advice he gave you?

“You can be busy every day of the week and still be unproductive. You want to make sure your time is invested in what’s most productive.”

What’s a local mentoring organization everyone should know about?

EmpowHERment, Inc. is relentless in its efforts to empower girls and women to be leaders through mentorship, talent development and advocacy.

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