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A Decade of Dedication: Helen Samuel's Journey with United Learning

Madison Challis / Categories: General

A Decade of Dedication: Helen Samuel's Journey with United Learning

Helen Samuel, our Communications Lead, shared her inspiring journey within United Learning. With over a decade of experience, Helen's insights shed light on what makes this organisation stand out.

In 2012, Helen Samuel embarked on her United Learning adventure as a Communications Manager in the Marketing team. Reflecting on those early days, Helen recalls, “This feels like a very long time ago but I’m by no means the longest serving member of staff and I think that’s testament to what a great organisation United Learning is to work for.” Back then, United Learning had a different look and feel. The team was smaller, nestled in quiet offices in a quaint market town in Northamptonshire. Helen reminisces, “It was possible to memorise the names of – and visualise - every head teacher in our schools. This is no longer possible as we’ve grown so much since then, with close to 100 schools now!”

One of the cornerstones of United Learning's success is its commitment to Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Helen explains, “I’ve always been actively encouraged to broaden my skills.” Her journey includes a diverse range of training courses, from internal communications to digital design packages and mental health first aid. Attending conferences has allowed her to network with other professionals, gather new ideas, and share best practices. The in-house training, as Helen describes, is truly varied. “I’ve attended project management and problem-solving courses. Our skills sharing model has allowed me to enhance Excel, InDesign, as well as other softer skills.”

For Helen, the most rewarding aspect of her role is the opportunity to introduce new ideas and systems that enhance communication and colleagues' work lives. The introduction of the digital communications platform, Poppulo, nearly a decade ago, revolutionised employee engagement and tailored communications. Helen emphasises, "We’ve made a huge shift from being a top-down organisation to encouraging feedback and two-way communication." This cultural shift is evidenced by initiatives like the annual survey, central office suggestion box, and office behaviours group.

What sets United Learning apart, according to Helen? "It’s deeply satisfying to know that our organisation is providing education to thousands of young people around the country." She's touched by the stories of transformation she's heard over the years, of children overcoming significant odds.

Flexible working is another standout feature of United Learning. Helen, who now works 20 hours a week, term-time only, Monday to Thursday, expresses gratitude for the opportunity to balance work and home life. This balance is especially crucial for her as a parent of two teenage daughters.

Reflecting on her career, Helen shares a standout moment involving organising Foundation Day ceremonies. Meeting running legend Ron Hill (the second man to break 2 hours 10 in the marathon and set the world record at four other distances) at the opening ceremony of Accrington Academy remains a cherished memory , particularly for Helen, an avid runner. Despite societal pressures to always strive for more in the career sphere, Helen embraces her role as a 'worker bee’. She recognises that ambition manifests differently for everyone. "I’m ambitious for personal growth and wellbeing, for being able to allocate the right amount of my time and energy to raising my girls and for maintaining good mental health." Climbing the corporate ladder isn't for everyone and as Helen acknowledges herself "my satisfaction comes [from] doing what I do, well."

In closing, Helen expresses her gratitude for the camaraderie and friendships she's formed at United Learning. "We spend such a significant amount of time at work that it is really important that we are surrounded by people who we can learn from, who inspire us, who you can laugh with and relate to."

With over a decade of dedication, Helen Samuel embodies the values and spirit of United Learning, making a meaningful impact in the lives of young people and contributing to a thriving community.

 


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