Helen grew up in West Yorkshire and came to the North East to attend Newcastle University and has stayed ever since. After graduating in Accounting and Financial Analysis, Helen qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst and Young before moving into the education sector.
Her first education role was at Northumberland Training and Enterprise Council where she had a variety of roles including financial accountant, claims manager and Financial Controller. Helen then joined the Learning and Skills Council where she worked with many colleges in the North East on their capital projects as well as monitoring the financial health of the FE sector. Helen joined South Tyneside College in 2008 when it was financially weak and by the next year it was rated financially outstanding and remained in at least good health ever since. Helen managed more than £20m of capital improvements at the college, successfully bidding for grants and negotiating loans to fund these. Helen also oversaw financially in 2013, the establishment of a multi academy trust sponsored by the college that had three schools by the end of 2018 as well as managing the financial, IT and data aspects of the successful merger of South Tyneside and Tyne Metropolitan Colleges in 2017.
Helen is also a director of Signature, the awarding body for sign language qualifications.