Helen is the Chair of The Renewables Infrastructure Group Limited, a FTSE 250 investment company, and a Non-executive director of SSE plc and Bonheur ASA, listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. She is an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2015.
What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?
Working remotely has been a challenge. I had board meetings with three out of my four boards this week. The platforms included Zoom, Webex, MeetMe and Teams. I also Chaired my first ever Zoom Board meeting, attended at one point by 24 people and everything worked. If you had said that three months ago, I would not have believed you.
Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month?
People and their wellbeing have been on the top of my agenda for all my boards. Covid19 has been affecting us all, including our mental health. Correspondingly, people have risen to the top of corporate agenda.
Best thing about working from home/remotely?
Having to do less travel is attractive. I also find that the meetings become shorter and more efficient.
Worst thing about working from home/remotely?
I miss face to face contact, including coffee, lunches and general chit-chat. Also being able to give somebody a hug and a pat on the back – humans are social beings after all.
What is the most significant change to the way you workas a consequence ofthe lockdown?
Due to less travel, I now have more time. In particular today I managed to do 45 minutes of gardening, in between the meetings, which would not have been possible prior to the lockdown.
What change are you most likely to keep and what will youdefinitely notcontinue, post lockdown.
I will not travel as much to meetings in the future. We have already set some remote meetings for September, that otherwise would have been in person. Boards need to meet in person for their main meetings, but the intermediate meetings can be conducted remotely. However, I will not continue the habit of virtual drinks and coffees.
Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)
Everybody has bad days or even weeks because of the lockdown. I am inspired by people who have battled through a difficult time or depression and managed to overcome it.
Bestprogramme/film you watched on TV/streaming this week?
One of my hobbies is learning Norwegian. I take lessons every week and like to watch Norwegian programmes to help me learn. At the moment I am watching “State of Happiness”, a new BBC4 drama about the oil industry, and have recently seen the series “Twin”.
Are you doingmore or less exercisethan a typical week when you commute and if more, what?
More, taking into consideration I now walk everywhere, do gardening and significantly more housework.
What are you consuming more of (that you should not be) now you are not in an office environment?
Prosecco and honey roasted peanuts while watching TV in the evening with my husband.
Any words of wisdom?
This is the first time in my life that I have this extra free time. I have almost finished writing a novel and have cleared out my cupboards. I want to be able to look back at this time and see what was achieved whilst in the lockdown.