Today (Thursday 14th January 2021) marks Helen Heward’s second work anniversary at Planning House!
Chris wasn’t planning to expand her business when Helen approached her for advice about the pros and cons of being self-employed back in 2018, but Helen felt like the “right fit” for the business, so as well as sharing her knowledge about starting a business Chris offered Helen the opportunity to join Planning House as an Associate, defining her own working hours and salary – now come on who wouldn’t jump at that chance!
At the time Helen was considering how best to return to work after the birth of her second child. Going back to a 9am – 5pm office job wasn’t appealing with two young children to look after, so Helen was thinking about becoming an independent consultant so that she could work more flexibly.
Whilst Helen knows Town Planning like the back of her hand, she didn’t particularly relish the prospect of setting up her own business (admin, accounting, marketing… etc)., so the opportunity to become part of the established Planning House brand and work alongside Chris, who has a huge amount of experience in town planning, was an opportunity not to be missed!
Understandably Helen’s 2nd year with the business has been a rather strange one! Caught in the midst of a global pandemic for most of it, Helen has had to adapt to a whole new way of working.
“I became used to working from home in year one, so that wasn’t an issue, but the long periods of “self-isolation” and “home-schooling” have been a challenge, as they have for everyone!
“It wasn’t too bad work-wise during the first lockdown because most of the construction industry closed down as well. I became a full time mum to my boys.
“But when things opened back up, for us there was no easing in, it was like everything was on fast forward!
“Work hasn’t really resumed to how it was before the pandemic, it is so much busier… and at the moment I have to balance that workload with a third national lockdown, where my husband and I also have to look after and home-school our two boys.
“It is incredibly challenging, but also rewarding. I am getting to spend time with the boys, even though it is very hard at times. And thanks to the way I work as an Associate, I am able to work flexibly and fit work around my home-life.”
Helen feels that the opportunity to work for Planning House has been more about personal development than professional development. That’s not to say she hasn’t developed professionally (she has), but getting out (before lockdown), meeting new people and networking has given Helen more confidence and helped with her personal development more than anything else.
There are also some positives to come out of lockdown: “Whilst I miss all of the networking, it’s been great to see how local councils have adapted to the new way of working. The virtual planning committees in particular are so much more efficient – I hope they continue even after covid-19!”
For Chris, having Helen as part of the Planning House Team is a “no brainier”!
“I knew straight away that Helen would be a great fit to work alongside me, and I was right. It has been great to see her flourish over the last couple of years.
“I can see that it is incredibly difficult right now, balancing work and childcare, but she is an incredibly strong person and is doing an amazing job!”