Q&A: Aylwin Lewis


The Plank Center is committed to developing the next generation of leaders and advancing the profession. It is our honor to recognize six leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a powerhouse of influence and accelerates success in our profession.

Our question and answer series introduces the 2014 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.Aylwin Lewis_President and Chief Executive Officer of Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Meet Aylwin Lewis.
Aylwin Lewis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Potbelly is a Chicago-based sandwich chain with operations throughout the United States and the Middle East.

What does it mean to you to be awarded the “Milestones in Mentoring” award?

It is a tremendous honor. Unexpected and humbling. Mentoring has been a way of life for me during my career.

When did you realize you were a mentor and leader?

I had four important mentors in my career. I started mentoring as a General Manager.

Describe your role as a mentor.

Mentoring is about helping other people reach their career goals. It is a formal relationship comprised of time commitments and specific discussion of topics tailored to meet the needs of the mentee.

What is the biggest challenge in mentoring?

Both parties have to be committed. Both have to be prepared for the meetings.

What is your advice/tips that you would share with other mentors?

Be open. Be specific. Be vulnerable. Sharing relevant experiences is the key.

What is your advice for mentees (young professionals, students, etc.)?

Ask for a mentor. Prepare for your sessions. Know what you want from the sessions.

What inspires you or motivates you to be a mentor?

It is about giving back. The more you teach the more you learn.

Who were your mentors and why?

Kyle Craig, Bob Nugent, David Novak, and Andy Pearson.

Published: August 2014

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