Mentor Month Matches: Mohamed Zaher and Xuexuan (Thomas) Peng

By Rachel Wetzel posted 01-10-2023 08:32 AM


Taking the next step in your career can start with a conversation.

For Mohamed Zaher, Senior Manager at American Axle and Manufacturing Inc., and Xuexuan (Thomas) Peng, a graduate student at Duke University, that conversation started with SAE International.

Mohamed and Thomas met through SAE’s mentoring program for members, and the connection was instant.

“When I met Thomas, he was seeking someone to give him insight to the job market and to understand in what ways he can enter the job market and secure a career to grow in,” Mohamed said. “We talked about his aspirations and honed in on his career ambitions. We discussed various topics from his resume, target companies, and even did mock interviews. We worked well together to equip Thomas with as many tools to succeeds as possible.”

As a mentor, Mohamed was able to take his experiences from 14 years in the industry and 8 years in academia to grow his skills as a leader and teacher, passing on his knowledge to the next generation of engineers.

For his part, Thomas felt his mentoring relationship with Mohammed gave him the foundation he needs to take his next steps toward a career in engineering. He appreciated Mohamed making himself available whenever he had a question.

“My mentor is very responsive, and every time I send him a message, he usually responds within a day,” Thomas said. “We had good conversations about my career path, and he helped me to do a mock interview, which was very useful and gave me insights into what interviewers are looking for and how to answer tech questions.”

As the mentor-mentee relationship grew, both men knew they had found something special. Hearing firsthand accounts from a professional in industry brought knowledge to Thomas that you don’t often find in the classroom.

“I remember my first meeting with Mohamed. He introduced his experience…at that time I really didn’t know anything about that. I got insights about the industry and those in Michigan, another thing that really benefits me a lot,” Thomas said.

Both speak highly of the program and would encourage their peers to get involved.

“It actually helps you take a look at yourself and your entire experience, being able to help someone learn from that experience and pass it along, makes the engineers coming from schools better because they don’t have to learn those lessons the hard way,” Mohamed said. “They have better expectations of what it means to join the job market and better expectations of what’s expected from them once they get hired.”

Learn more about Mohamed and Thomas’s mentor-mentee relationship in the video below, then check out Connexion+ to discover the benefits of SAE Membership and find a mentor or mentee of your own!

Check out Mohamed and Thomas's interview today!