Under her skilful leadership over the past 18 months the network has achieved phenomenal success and is a thriving community of activity, growth and advocacy. Helen takes an active role in mentoring women in the organisation, currently mentoring 4 women. She also led our graduate scheme and supported graduates through their transition into working roles. She has inspired and supported many women in the organisation and has been recognised many times through the internal recognition system.
Helen is Director of products, Santander Business and has been nominated for the 2018 Champion for Women Award.
Tell us about your day to day role
I am privileged to lead a team who are responsible for the propositions and customer experiences for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises up to £6.5m turnover. My team and I work with our colleagues around the bank to design and build propositions that help Businesses prosper. Every day is different and that’s why I love it. I’ve always been driven by being able to help customers, personal or business, by making banking something that offers genuine value and helps them; I get the chance to do that every day. I am so proud to work for Santander, and be part of the team that has been voted as the Best Business Bank in the UK (voted by Moneyfacts) and offers our customers the best Business Current Account in the UK (voted by Moneyfacts).
As a leader of the Women in Business Network, what advice would you give to a young woman who wants to get the most out of networking?
Networking sounded scary to me, and for many years I thought of it falsely as being in situations I thought I had to be in rather than wanted to be in, and forcing myself to meet new people. It’s not that! It’s about building a group of people around you who you can turn to for help, and actually you can help them. So keep it simple, everytime you meet someone new, just be inquisitive, get to know them and see if you have a connection, then see if you can help them…. Over time it’s amazing how your network grows and how you build a group of people who can lean on each other.
How does it feel to be on the WIBF Awards for Achievement Shortlist?
I am truly honoured to be on this shortlist. Women in Banking and Finance have done so much to help women in our industry and to be recognised by them for providing a contribution is so amazing. For me it’s about helping as many women as possible fulfil their potential, and I’m proud to have been part of a team building a network at Santander, and I’m proud to be able to share this with that team.
Tell us about the very first WIBF event you attended.
It’s been very recent for me, and my first WIBF event was the interview with our very own Head of Retail Distribution Susan Allen. Susan spoke to Sally McFall, from the WIBF Executive Board and gave a very personal interview about her career and experiences. It was such an insightful and interesting career story, but also one where Susan opened up about skills and experiences that helped her succeed. I believe having access to role models is so important and this event was truly inspirational for me.
Who has been the most influential person in your career and why?
The most influential person in my career has been my Mum. Firstly she believed in me. Secondly she supported me in every situation whether I needed help, support or someone to share a success with. And finally, she let me believe that if I wanted to do something I could.
What was the first album you bought, and do you still listen to it?
Colour by Numbers by Culture Club…. I loved it. Me and my friends would dance around my bedroom singing Karma Chameleon… “Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma…..!” It still makes me smile to think of it. I’ve not listened to it for years! I’d go for a Wonderstuff or Oasis album now….!