August 11, 2020

About Helen

I’m Helen and I’m one of life’s adventurers and I believe that life is for living but what does that mean…?

So let me share with you some key events in life I’ve made and those that have been thrown at me….

After graduating I accepted a job in Harrogate, however in my first week I was then also offered a job with another company that I’d applied too and as a graduate with an overdraft and the opportunity of a 20% salary increase over my current, that was that and I resigned after a week and started with a company that was to have a major impact on my life. I started there in February 1985 thinking I stay a few years, get some experience under my belt and look what else is available, and I did over 27 years later!!

So on the surface I worked for the same company for over a 27 year period, well sort of…

When I started it was Glaxo, then it GlaxoWellcome and when I resigned (for the second time!) it was GlaxoSmithKline. During that time I moved from being an Analytical Chemist in the labs and through various leadership roles at one manufacturing site, to a move to another site and to heading up Tablets Manufacturing Quality for a key NPI (New Product Introduction) site, to a global role and onto becoming one of the Technical Directors within a function providing technical & quality support to all the global manufacturing sites and finally one of the Audit Director in Corporate Audit & Assurance.
Actually that’s not the whole picture either as I had two breaks of service…

In my mid-thirties I resigned, to have the gap year (that for many is usual to do in your early twenties) and had an amazing time travelling and meeting up with other life adventurers’, many who are still part of my life today. I also got to fulfil one of my dreams and fly solo over the stunning New Zealand countryside.

When I resigned, some were envious; some thought I was crazy to leave when my career was going so well and I was just following through on what was right for me at that point in time to live the life I wanted to live. I took a accepted the risk; a calculated risk versus a reckless one. When I got back to the UK, I was immediately offered a job straight back into the company and after 11monnths away got the job I wanted supporting the overseas manufacturing sites and this time travelling with work and a promotion!

Then nearly 7 years later, I had another break and although I was all set to resign again, this time the company offered me a 13month sabbatical as an alternative! This time I wasn’t bumming around the world enjoying myself, this time I was to participate in an experience of a life time and was a crew member of a Round the world yacht race. Even better we finished 3rd overall, including coming in 1st place position in the race across the Atlantic from New York to Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Then it was a return back to working with people, and a job, I loved.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though either on the race or …

Having moved down South after my partner moved there for their job, we split up. This made me really think about what I needed from my holiday that year to restore my vitality which had waned after the split up. I took what was to be a turning point ne consciously realising what helps makes me a live and also brining some-one in my life which I was to share more adventures with, and still hope too. I headed to Alaska and we covered from Anchorage all the way up the Dalton Highway (those of you who are Ice Trucker programme fans, yes that the road I’ve been up too!) to our final camp at Deadhorse!

I took the decision to resign and go back-packing while still recovering from a knee operation following a ski-ing accident in Colorado; after all I could walk even ifI couldn’t return to all the activities I used to do yet! After my first week in Australia I had a fall and, in trying to protect that knee, I damaged the ankle on the other leg – so I was back on crutches and blow it if I was going to return back to the UK after resigning. I just had to adapt my expectations and I had a different adventure instead!

Then I had a serious case of food poisoning, and the owners of a hostel I had been staying at couldn’t believe how ill I’d been and gave me a free tandem sky-diving jump at Lake Taupo, where earlier in my trip I had hoped too but weather had cancelled the jump. I had done one jump down in Queenstown, but with the basic jump cost covered I paid the extra to be taken an extra 3,000ft higher! Longer to enjoy the experience coming down, and it being the second time was as awe-stuck as the first time, and took just take so much more in and enjoy the moment

Nor was it all smooth sailing on the yacht race as you can imagine, you may learn a lot about sailing but the real learnings are about yourself and about others particularly during the difficult times.(That would take up more space than I have here to share!). It’s from those that your understanding deepens and can increase your capacity to handle so much more that gets thrown at, if you choose to.

I learnt very early that you can chose how to frame things to either help you or hinder you, to live your life to its fullest, and to help others to do the same

This helped when following an organisational redesign it was decided that our team and function would no longer exist, and although we couldn’t fully accept that it was for the best for our internal customers, once the decision you’ve got to that on deal with the facts you’ve got in front of you and for me how did my options and the choices that I now needed to make which help me continue to live the life I wanted and still continue to enjoy to the fullest what I did both in my life at work and my life outside it.

Then while still getting my head around the impact and what I was learning after making that choice at the start of 2010 full of renewed vigour to get on with the next steps in my life’ strategy I was involved in a car accident and that changed things in a major way!