Do you want to become a mentor but not sure it’s for you? Eastbourne mentor, Jacqui Green, says, “The most powerful thing I have learnt about mentoring is the fact that, as a mentor, you learn and grow just as much as the young person you’re mentoring. I love that, and have been really lucky to learn from an amazing young woman.”


From a change in direction at university and an entry-level sales position to the role of CEO at Berry Gardens, mentor, Jacqui Green, is all about working hard to achieve your ambitions. A sentiment she shares with her mentee at The Girls’ Network. 

The road to becoming a mentor

At school Jacqui recalls the career options presented to her as gender-biased and old-fashioned: “The careers service didn’t give me any idea how broad I could think and what I could actually consider doing. It felt like I was fighting to be something else.” 

With a penchant for languages, Jacqui entered the fruit and vegetable business which gave her the opportunity to travel across the world and become immersed in new cultures. At this time she felt a sense of belonging, and believed that her gender wasn’t a factor in her position or success. She said: “Languages gave me a real advantage over my male colleagues. Growers in Spain, France, South America, and North Africa, really appreciated the opportunity to tell me their stories in their native tongue. This triumphed over my gender, every time. But it didn’t mean that being a young woman in these environments was always easy.

“On the face of it, my career has been really successful. However, when I reflect on how it was impacted by my gender, I see unconscious bias permeate the decades; the boardrooms and the way people have treated me.”

Mentoring: the WHY 

Like many of our mentors, Jacqui didn’t have a traditional mentor growing up, but she did have colleagues, teachers, and family members who were on hand to support and nurture her. From this group of informal mentors, Jacqui learned many valuable lessons, not least the importance of working hard to achieve your ambitions. 

“I was fortunate to have a couple of amazing teachers who really saw something in me. It gave me the desire to strive really hard, and the courage to fail; this is probably the hardest but most valuable lesson, and it needs to be supported by someone who will pick you up and dust you down.”

It’s this support, this championing, that spurred Jacqui on to become a mentor with The GIrls’ Network: “I recognise that I wouldn’t be where I am today without people supporting, championing, and challenging me. I have felt, first hand, just how powerful that support and belief in me has been, and I hope as a mentor I can give that to someone.”

The role of a mentor

As a mentor Jacqui looks at the next generation and sees young women who believe in themselves. She knows how powerful this belief is, but also recognises how useful mentoring remains. “There are going to be pioneers in so many areas as they make their way through centuries of inequality and with that comes the risk of knockbacks, fear from change-wary people, and negativity. I think girls today need support to equip them for some of the more subtle challenges ahead - the politics, how to undo unconscious bias.” 

In 2019, Jacqui decided to set up her own business, Viridis Associates. She is now a coach, mentor, consultant and holds three non-executive director roles which allow her the opportunity to champion people and sustainability driven strategies. Mentoring a young woman at Willingdon Community School in Eastbourne is another element of this new adventure and at 10 sessions across 12 months, Jacqui Says: 

“It’s not about telling someone to do something a certain way (because it worked for you), but walking alongside someone so they can tell you what they are thinking, seeing, planning, and sharing any insight you might have to help them on their way. As a mentor, it is our job to help mentees look after themselves in the midst of such change.”

Jacqui wants every girl to know that nothing is off limits to them: “Mentoring is about giving your mentee a toolkit of life skills to become more self-sufficient in bringing out their own potential, recognising the need for self-care, and how to ask for support.” 


Like Jacqui, you can become a mentor to a girl in your community. Sign up now