Helen has a strong understanding of what she wants from life: “to be the best mother, wife, friend and role model to those I care about,” and this provides the context for everything she takes on. Her life journey and career have moved her towards this goal over the years – now culminating in her family Mark, James and Harry, dog Bruno and her work with leaders.
Helen specialty is to bring together people who care and have passion for the value IT can bring to society. She works with many leading organisations:running programmes, advising, consulting and coaching in topics including talent management, IT consultative relationship management, leadership change management, mentoring programmesand reverse mentoring programmes (specifically Hot Chilli Coaching pairing Generation Y mentors with senior business executives).
Helen’s last corporate role was in Unilever as Vice President of New Ways of Working. She was part of the IT leadership team and had an active role in the development of senior women. The aim was always to bridge the gap between business and IT, so that everyone understood the advantages and implications of IT in achieving business goals and future proofing businesses.
Her area of responsibility wasnon-traditional IT: changing the mind set and behaviours of the organisation. This involved changing how IT worked with the rest of the Unilever business by delivering development programmes for brilliant IT professionals, and relevant IT learning and education to the whole of Unilever. She worked with the services, solutions and innovation teams to deliver the technology that would enable new ways of working into the future.
Helen has a passion for excellence and vitality delivered through people who enjoy life and work. This leads to a strong desire to see real diversity and the flexible work patterns, styles and cultures to enable this. This challenges the core of how we do business today.
Prior to Unilever, Helen worked in IBM as an Account Manager. The first six years being in South Africa during the fantastic era of the birth of the Rainbow Nation. This time shaped Helen’s approach on diversity, strongly influenced by a meeting with Nelson Mandela, who continues to inspire Helen as a truly brilliant leader.
The start of Helen’s career was in the hospitality and travel industry. This was where she developed her passion and expertise in excellent service and customer care. It also inspired her passion to travel. Helen has worked on every continent and in most parts of the world – exploring the cultures and values. Her passion now is to work anywhere without having to get on a plane! Again challenging the core of how we do business today.
Helen strongly believes in mentoring and coaching to encourage changes in perspectives and behaviours and has been actively involved in the Tower Hamlets School for Girls Mentoring programme, Computer Clubs for Girls and various individual mentoring relationships. She recently established a programme to promote careers in IT to girls whilst still in school.
Helen Toogood Bio