· Features

How I got here: Helen Beurier, Zopa

Helen Beurier, chief people officer at financial services firm Zopa shares her career journey and top leadership tips.

Chief people officer, Zopa

September 2021 – present

Since becoming Zopa bank’s first CPO I’ve led huge investments in our employee value proposition, benefits and workplace flexibility that position us as a leading employer in the sector. This has included pushing through a pioneering ‘120 days work from anywhere’ policy and parity for maternity, paternity and adoption leave. And there is more innovation to come.

More career paths of HR leaders:

Philippa Bonay, Office for National Statistics

Tony Elliott, Robertson Group

Nathan Clements, SSP Group


Founder, Bloom

September 2018 – September 2021

After 20-plus years of corporate life I set up a consulting business. Four miscarriages taught me that life is precious and fragile, and I embarked on a search for opportunities that allowed me to shape workplace cultures focused on change for good. I focused on founder-led privately owned businesses targeting rapid growth.


Senior director, HR, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, PepsiCo

October 2008 – May 2018

I took a huge risk with PepsiCo, leaving my life in the UK to relocate to Geneva for a seven month contract at my own expense, with no long-term guarantees. It was a good bet. I had an amazing 10-year trajectory in progressively complex international HR leadership roles.


Senior manager, European HR, Timberland

September 2006 – October 2008

I returned to my retail roots at Timberland and had my first experience of an operating role with full P&L accountability, providing leadership of the HR team across nine countries and 24 retail stores. This offered a seat at the executive table and shaped my ability to design and execute people strategy from end-to-end. The strong ESG philosophy here was inspiring.


HR business partner, Electronic Arts (EA)

April 2005 – September 2006

EA offered my first experience of partnering with leaders and people team peers cross-border with a heavy change agenda that saw me play a lead role in the relocation of our European HQ from the UK to Switzerland. I was electrified by the exposure to so many great new people, cultures and working styles.


Graduate training scheme, HR generalist and specialist store and HQ roles, Marks and Spencer

July 1993 – April 2005

I joined M&S as a sales assistant in 1993. They discovered my potential and invested heavily in my development, sponsoring me to complete a year’s graduate training in Paris. M&S taught me my craft: best-in-class people policy, process and communication at scale, intense customer service operations, and how to relate to very different stakeholders and communities.


Saturday sales assistant, local florist

May 1992 – July 1993

My first experience of the world of work taught me emotional intelligence, the value of hard work (a lot of floor washing) and a life-long love of flowers.


Top three career tips

  1. Think of your career as a journey of experiences and adventures rather than a ladder of increasingly impressive job titles.
  2. Trust your gut. If an opportunity makes your heart pound and your mind buzz, it’s a signal that you will love it, and if you love something, you are much likelier to enjoy it and succeed.
  3. Every great leader has failed at some point in their career journey. Accept that things will sometimes go wrong.


The full article of the above first appeared in the November/December 2022 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.