When Opportunity Knocks, You Answer | Helen Austen

Have you ever been at the right place at just the right time? Sometimes opportunity finds us when we’re looking, other times we’re caught by surprise. When opportunity knocked for Helen Austen, she answered. And she hasn’t looked back a day since.

Summed up, Helen would tell you that the opportunity to work with Tanner Pharma Group was “life changing”. That day marked an unexpected, yet unequivocal change in her life, leading to her present role as the company’s ESG (Environmental Social Governance) Manager for Tanner Pharma.

Life was not always so chipper in those pre-Tanner days. Cut-throat work environments. Financial insecurity. Anxiety about what’s to come next.

Helen is a woman with experience in a lot of different fields. Before switching over to working with Tanner, she was working in the fashion industry managing multi-million-dollar contracts and travelling extensively. Though she had an eye for detail and business management, that environment became rather toxic. She left in 2017 after 25 years, concluding the fashion industry was no longer the right fit.

“I stepped off the planet for a year, to be honest. And I signed-on and just took a year out to decide what I wanted to do. Nothing really came to mind. I thought about setting up my own business.”

Ultimately, Helen started working part-time for a high-end kitchen manufacturer. She walked in to work daily (one of her lifetime ambitions) but still wasn’t satisfied. Work wasn’t challenging her enough. 

All was not lost, however. “Out of the blue,” as Helen recalls, opportunity came knocking again. Jonathan Bracey, a friend and fellow rugby player of her partner, reached out. His request was for some help in Tanner’s UK office.

The work was for a couple of days a week, back in 2019. Today, Helen works full-time, now in a job she concludes is undoubtedly a great fit.

She started by helping with facilities management and keeping equipment and supplies up to date and in stock and looking after the UK team’s needs. Now, she manages. From day one, she was embraced by the staff with friendly and open arms. Helen didn’t realize this at the time, but she was becoming part of Tanner’s family culture. 

“I couldn’t believe what I walked into. It just felt right from the minute I walked through the door. You’re all of a sudden equipped with a massive support network and a feeling that you’re not on your own.”

She finds coworkers, management, everyone, to be friendly, approachable, chatty. In the moments when there is silence in the office, that silence is never uncomfortable. As Helen herself admits, she’s not good at sitting around doing nothing. Thankfully, there’s plenty to do and plenty of people to work with along the way. 

In 2020 Helen was offered a full-time role as project coordinator. If she thought things couldn’t get any better for her, she was wrong. She’s become an embodiment of what she appreciates in Tanner and what the company promotes, showcased in her being awarded this past January. Helen won the 2021 Chairman’s Award, the highest-tier accolade given by both CEO Banks Bourne and President Steve Scalia.

What felt like family early on has continued to remain the same for Helen. 

“I’ve worked for lots of companies in the past that say they care about their employees, and they absolutely don’t. They’re all about the money and the turnover and are actually putting their employees at the very bottom of the list. Coming to Tanner, it’s completely flipped on its head. It’s all about the employees and the people we are helping around the world.”

Tanner’s approach to management has led to growth in her UK family these past couple of years. Twelve people are now twenty, and there are plans for further growth as Tanner expands its outreach to nations across the globe, and plants offices in more countries.

Helen would have never guessed where she would be today, but she couldn’t be anymore grateful.

From unsure to certain, Helen’s life was changed the day she came into the Tanner office. She drives in daily with a great sense of joy, something she hadn’t found elsewhere, and she hopes that will never change.

Opportunity knocked. She answered.

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