Helen Tindle, People Director, Iceland Foods

Helen Tindle, Alumni,  People Director Iceland Foods _ 400pixWith sales of over £2.7 billion and over 25,000 staff, Iceland Foods has gone from strength to strength in recent years. We talk to BA (Hons) Business Studies alumna Helen Tindle (née Turpy ), People Director, Iceland Foods, and find out how she has contributed to one of Britain’s biggest success stories.  

What did you study, and what year did you graduate? 

BA (Hons) Business Studies with French and I graduated in 1993.

What made you choose that course?

There was an Industrial placement year attached to the degree. As I did the French option, I undertook a six months ERASMUS industrial placement in France. 

The Industrial placement and living abroad for a year studying and working gave me self-confidence, resilience and adaptability. Also, choosing Business Studies allowed me to keep the ‘doors open’ rather than closing any, and at that point I wasn't crystal clear on my preferred area of business. 

How do you think your qualification has helped you? 

My degree gave me a broad awareness of business skills and opened the door for the Iceland Graduate Programme, which I joined in 1993. The University also used detailed case studies based on real-life situations - including one on Iceland that I remember clearly and used in my very first interview!  

Describe a typical day in your current role?

There’s no such thing!  I typically drive to the office, catching up on the phone with one of my team based out in the field on the way in.  Into the office, grab a coffee and walk around the department to say hi to everybody individually and catch up with a few of them.

Maybe some 1-1 meetings with my direct reports, which I run fortnightly and allow me to keep updated with matters in hand, projects for the future, and ER issues, review business performance numbers etc. Spend some time with one or two of my peers (Finance Director, Stores Director) then perhaps a 1-1 with my own boss, again who I see fortnightly and give him an update on big things, for example the colleague communication plan for the coming months.  Catch up on some emails and get some quiet time to complete tasks.  Quick review of the Talking Iceland Facebook page which is our “virtual staffroom” for over 20,000 colleagues, plan my route and focus of questions for the next day out in stores then head off home to spend some time with my 2 young children, before collapsing on the sofa with a glass of wine and a natter with my husband…

Having worked for Iceland for 19 of the past 22 years, I've seen plenty of change and evolution. However, the one thing that has remained consistent is the core culture of the business – fast-paced, open, honest, challenging, entrepreneurial, simple, and down-to-earth.

What would be your advice to someone wishing to follow your career path? 

Be flexible, keep your options open and don’t be afraid to try something new and work hard. In your early years work REALLY hard and offer yourself up for anything that comes along.  This is your time to invest in you! Always treat others as you would like to be treated.  Mean what you say, but don’t be mean when you say it.  Be honest, open and fair. 

Anything else? 

I'm proud of my degree and I look forward to continuing my association with the University through the USW alumni network.