female mentors and role modelsGetting a mentor is always at the top of my list when giving advice, whether it be to leaders or to someone starting out in their career.

For me, it’s been so unbelievably important and I try to impart this as well as I can.

They can guide you through situations that they’re experienced in and I’ve always felt seeing something first hand is the best way to learn. Not only that but having someone who truly believes in you is so important – especially in these times of Covid-19 where you might be questioning yourself more than usual.

I’ve been lucky enough to have two mentors that really supported me when I made the move from working for non-profits to entering the world of business when setting up Piccolo.

I’m exceptionally passionate about mentorship and work to make sure Piccolo employees have a mentor outside of the company. This is important for their capacity to learn and so they have someone to discuss their work life and development with.

Right from the get-go, I had Prue Leith as a mentor and investor, who urged me to start Piccolo. I do think it’s especially important that your mentor is someone you find inspirational. As an entrepreneur who was juggling a family while building her business, Prue has definitely been someone for me to look up to.

Above all, Prue gave me the confidence I needed to go from working in the non-profit sector to building a business with commercial success. I found it challenging getting used to the world of supermarkets and Prue was there for me every step of the way. I wouldn’t have started Piccolo if it wasn’t for her, so I’m grateful as I’m able to have more of an impact with charitable work via Piccolo than when I was working for non-profits.

My second key mentor has been sustainability expert, Jonathon Porritt. Sustainability is a huge driver for Piccolo and Jonathon’s support has been incredibly important in terms of launching our sustainability initiatives.

Baby food pouches, whilst convenient, light (therefore resulting in lower carbon emissions) and great for keeping flavours fresh, have unfortunately historically been unrecyclable.

I was determined to change this. With Jonathon’s help, last year, we launched Piccolo’s bio-based pouch, which is made from 80% renewable, plant-based materials. This was a significant leap for the baby category and our fully recyclable pouch is launching early next year. I owe much of this to Jonathan with his seemingly never-ending knowledge and support to make the right decisions.

For these reasons, I really think a strong mentorship is invaluable. Having someone to bounce ideas off, who’s there to support you, praise your strengths and help work on your weaknesses – I can’t stress the importance this has had in my career and I’d encourage everyone to find a mentor of their own.

Piccolo Organic makes healthy (and very tasty) baby meals, cooking products and snacks to help you get the balance right every day. The brand is partnered with City Harvest and Little Village, and gives 10% of its profits to charity. Available in all major retailers and its online store. mylittlepiccolo.com

About the author

Cat Gazzoli Before setting up Piccolo, Cat Gazzoli worked in the charitable sector of the food world. She began her career with the United Nations food agencies in Rome, where she created campaigns and programmes promoting sustainable livelihoods for farmers, as well as promoting female parity and equal opportunities. She then became the CEO of Slow Food UK, the global campaigning organisation for good, clean and fair food.

During her career, Cat has launched programs across the UK to help families consider the provenance and nutritional make-up of what they put on their plates. It is this commitment to social and ethical house practice that drives Piccolo to give 10% of its profits to food education programmes to help encourage parents to give their children the best start towards a positive relationship with food.

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