Helen Lawrence

Helen completed her doctorate in linguistics at the University of New York. After teaching and project management work, she set up her own training consultancy.

"I left university and took the first job I was offered: a sales assistant in a clothes shop. This quickly became a management position, and I was responsible for recruiting and managing staff, liaising with head office, and basic accounts. I liked learning new things – however this wasn't where I was meant to be, and I left after ten months to do an MA, then PhD, in linguistics at the University of York.

"After my PhD I did three years of postdoctoral research, where I was responsible for managing a project. This involved fieldwork and analysis. I was also responsible for project management and administration, and informally for supervising the researchers on the project.

"While I was doing both postgraduate and postdoctoral research, I did a substantial amount of teaching, which gave me valuable experience for my next career move – to work as a graduate training officer. This role involved the design and delivery of development opportunities for postgraduate students and postdoctoral research staff. This experience confirmed that my passion was for training and development rather than research. After five years I was looking for new challenges and decided to set up my own training consultancy.

"This is working out better than I could have hoped. The challenges are different from those I had expected – never underestimate the value of a helpful accountant! – and I love working with a wide variety of interesting people in different professional contexts."