Me and my mentor : A journey of growth

No matter your line of work or level of seniority, we all need someone within our organisation who believes in and helps us be the best we can be. Jazz Kelleher, Commercial Capability Manager at Coca‑Cola HBC Ireland, has been mentoring Gillian Shields, Packaging and Sustainability Manager, for nearly two years. The pair share mutual learnings and explain the value of mentorship – at any stage of career.

Why did you choose to be mentored – and why Jazz?

Gillian: I reached out to Jazz when I returned to work after having my little boy. When I decided to go back to work, I wanted to make sure the time I spent away from my son was of value. I’ve been with the Public Affairs and Communications department for over 16 years, and felt I had lost touch with the commercial side of the business. I was seeking someone who could help me develop my business acumen and build my commercial understanding.

I had already worked closely with Jazz on developing the Inspire Network here in Ireland. This is a learning and development initiative designed to help employees excel personally and professionally, whilst striving for gender balance at management level. Mentoring was part of the vision for this programme.


mentorship-careers-page mentorship-careers-page "Jazz was the perfect match. She had a strong commercial background and is respected across the business. I also knew that Jazz was someone I could be open and honest with and that she would give me a candid perspective on my leadership style."

gillian-shields-and-jazz-kelleher gillian-shields-and-jazz-kelleher "I now feel more confident, in control of my future and empowered to make decisions."

Did you click straightaway?

Jazz: Yes, we hit if off from the beginning. Gillian was very clear on the areas that she wanted to be mentored in, which got our relationship off to a great start.

What value do mentors offer?

Jazz: It’s vital to have a sounding board, someone who can help you see things from a different perspective. As you move through different stages of your career, it’s not always clear what the next step should be. Sharing your thinking with someone else really helps. If you’re the mentor, you need to create a safe and trusting environment. Your mentee must feel comfortable to not only talk about professional challenges, but personal ones as well.


What has this mentorship delivered?

Gillian: Jazz has helped me identify clear career goals, establish a sense of direction, as well as changing my mindset and old behaviours that may have been holding me back. She has also helped develop my network and identified areas where I can grow my skills. I now feel more confident, in control of my future and empowered to make decisions. I now focus on what I have to offer and how I can use my knowledge and expertise to add value to the business. I’ve learned to play to what I am good at and this in turn has helped raise my profile in the business.

Jazz: It’s a privilege to mentor Gillian. We have regular monthly meetings when she always comes prepared with a topic she wants to talk about. Over the past two years I have seen Gillian grow as a person and develop her confidence. She has developed her own leadership style and is building her personal brand within Coca‑Cola HBC Ireland.

What’s it like being a woman in leadership at Coca‑Cola HBC?

Jazz: There's a sense of pride that comes from playing my part in building brands people love. I am empowered every day to drive positive changes for our business and this gives me immense satisfaction. We have some fantastic leadership programmes and I’ve had some great opportunities to develop, professionally and personally. I’m happy that I can share my learnings, experience and career journey with my colleagues through the mentoring programme and the Inspire Network. 



I’m now clear on where I want to go, what I need to do to get there and the people I need to connect with to help me do this.

Gillian Shields Packaging and Sustainability Manager

What is your key takeout from this experience?

Gillian: It shows me that Coca‑Cola HBC values people development, with opportunities for me to learn and grow. Having a mentor has really helped me do this. I’m now clear on where I want to go, what I need to do to get there and the people I need to connect with to help me do this.

One piece of advice Jazz gave me was that it is OK to simply ask someone to go grab a coffee so you can get a different point of view on an issue or challenge. It’s little social interactions like these that can help you learn new things and build better working relationships. A simple conversation with the right person at the right time can make a big difference.

3 things I learned being a mentee:

  • Make time for your development
  • Focus on your strengths and play to them
  • Learn and take advice from others, but stay true to yourself

3 things I learned being a mentor:

  • Take the time to build your relationship
  • Share your own, real-life experiences
  • Become an ambassador for your mentee within the organisation


Watch the video

And learn more about the Inspire Network in Ireland and Gillian´s experience being a mentee:


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