Jessica Huie reveals why she's proud to be part of Connect Mentors

Opinion: We have a responsibility to close the PR “opportunity gap”

Jessica Huie, director of Kaleidoscope Comms, talks about how meeting her first PR mentor changed her life – and why she’s proud to be part of Connect Mentors.

Jessica Huie Connect Mentors

Jessica Huie

We do not all begin at the starting line in life. That’s a fact.

The conversation about the disparities between us, the invisible privileges and head-starts, are now a daily feature on the news agenda.

At 17, I found myself washing hair in a local West London salon. I had no desire to be a hairdresser, but had dropped out of college intent on earning my own money so that I might have independence from my family. My parents were dismayed.

As a junior in the salon we had to make small talk with the clients. And on one particular day when I managed to avoid splashing water over my client’s face, I began speaking to an immaculately dressed customer. She said I was intelligent and should not be washing hair, and invited me to her office in Holland Park.

Figuring that an office job had to be better than sweeping hair and cleaning skirting boards, I rocked up to her office the following week where I was shown how to answer the phone.

“Connie Filippello Publicity, how can I help?” was the greeting. My first day as an office junior for the Publicist to the stars (Mariah Carey, George Michael) had begun. And my magical break into the media presented itself.

If I hadn’t accepted Connie’s invitation at the salon, I might never have discovered what public relations was – let alone have crafted a great living from PR. I thought I was just going to upgrade my job so that I could stop sweeping up hair. I never could have predicted that I was about to walk through a doorway into my career for the next 20 years.

Great mentorship shouldn’t be left to chance

On National Mentoring Day, my colleagues and I introduced Connect Mentors into the world. It’s an online mentoring platform which matches progressive businesses with marginalised talent.

Our mission goes beyond just matching business mentors from range of sectors (not just PR!) with talent from new pools. We want to change the way society views talent.

We want to dispel the idea that the “best” candidates come only from the Russell Group universities. We want to highlight the huge value people over 55 re-entering the workplace can have for a business. We want to open minds and shift perceptions and create a space for business to diversify and prosper off the back of human connection.

My first informal experience of mentoring changed my life, and I am proud of the value I’ve brought to not just my clients but the industry itself as a result of that opportunity.

To discover how you could change someone’s life by becoming a PR mentor, or to find a mentor of your own, visit today.

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