Congratulations to Helen O’Brien: Our First Ten Year Tenure
In January 2023, Operations Manager Helen O’Brien celebrated ten years at Newman Stewart. We spoke to her about her highlights from across the years, the trip she took to Rome as a reward, and what it takes to become a ten year tenure.
NS: Congratulations on ten years, Helen. That’s quite the achievement?
H: Thank you! Although actually it’s not that unusual for me if I’m being honest! I’ve only ever had four jobs since I started my career 35 years ago, so it’s familiar territory.
My first job after graduating was in London and I only stayed there for a few months before I realised that Yorkshire was my true home. Since then, I’ve never worked anywhere for less than ten years. As long as the job is keeping me interested then I’m happy and there is never a dull moment at Newman Stewart.
NS: So you’re a serial ten-yearer! What’s your secret?
H: It’s all about enjoying what you do and importantly it’s about being recognised and rewarded for what you do each day. That way, it doesn’t have to feel like work… it just feels like what you’re meant to be doing each day. There will always be moments when you feel the pressure, but when that happens, you just need to have broad shoulders and crack on. As long as you have good people around you (and I always have), you’ll survive. And John has looked after me over the years and taught me a huge amount!
NS: What would you say is the highlight from your time here at Newman Stewart?
H: There have been so many, so it’s hard to pick one. Achieving ten years at any company is a pretty major milestone, so I’m definitely proud of that. But for me, the highlight has been everything I’ve learned since joining back in 2013 – I’ve learned so much!
When I first started here, I was John’s PA, then I became Office Manager, and now I’m Operations Manager. So I’ve genuinely learned so much in the ten years. I’d never worked in recruitment before, but I can tell you all about it now, as well as HR, IT, finance, and everything else. That’s what Newman Stewart means to me.
NS: And what about the biggest challenge?
H: The first week! When I came to Newman Stewart, it was my first full-time job since having children. I’d worked part-time for ten years local to home, and now I suddenly found myself commuting 45 minutes each way to work every day – and long days. After such a long break, it was a shock to the system, and every day was absolutely full-on. It still is. But after ten years, I’ve just about become used to it!
NS: So what did you do to celebrate?
H: I’m the first person at Newman Stewart to reach the ten year milestone, so I was a bit of a guinea pig when it came to deciding what to do as a reward. In the old days I might have been offered a commemorative watch or a carriage clock, but I much preferred the more modern idea of a European city break – much more up my street. I chose Rome, and Newman Stewart organised the whole thing.
NS: Why Rome?
H: I’d never been before and it’s a beautiful city. Those were the only reasons I needed!
NS: How was the trip?
H: Although it was just a weekend, we managed to pack a lot in. We landed in Rome around Friday lunchtime, so obviously the first thing we did was check into our hotel and then head straight out for a classic Italian lunch. Then we roamed around (pun intended) and got our bearings, visiting the main landmarks like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.
The only proper touristy thing we had booked beforehand was a tour of the Vatican City on Saturday, which was an absolute must for us. My legs had never been so tired by the end of it, but the artwork and the architecture on display was just stunning. I didn’t quite fancy the 551 steps up to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica at the end, so I left that to the other half to go up and take some pictures for me!
On the final day, we made a few stops on an open top bus tour, followed by lunch and then it was time to fly home. It was a lovely weekend, lots of sight-seeing and some fabulous Italian food and drink – and it was pretty much all organised by Newman Stewart. The only thing I had to do was book my flights.
NS: Should more companies offer a ten year tenure incentive?
H: Yes! Especially for businesses who employ a lot of younger people, rewards like these show that there are plenty of reasons to stick around. As recruiters, we’re always telling clients how important employee retention is, and incentives like this are a really simple way of giving back to your team.
The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t have to work somewhere for ten years before you see a benefit. There always needs to be something extra on offer. At Newman Stewart, we offer access to mental health advisors and wellbeing coordinators, weekly personal trainer sessions, as well as quarterly challenges and socials too. It’s all part of building a happy workplace.
NS: 20 years isn’t far off now. Where will you go to celebrate then?
H: I’d like to think I’ll be collecting my pension by then … if not though, then maybe I should be sent off on a cruise around the Caribbean for a few weeks. That seems fair to me, right?
NS: No comment…