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Helen Mahy

Name: Helen Mahy CBE

Job Title(s): Equality and Human Rights Commissioner; Chair of The Renewables Infrastructure Group; Co-chair of the Employers Social Mobility Alliance; Non-Executive director of SSE plc

Backstory: I was born and brought up in Guernsey and educated there. I read law at the Manchester of University and was called to the Bar. I was also an associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute and am a qualified performance coach. I have worked in a variety of commercial and legal roles in insurance, government and industry. I was General Counsel and Company Secretary of Babcock International Group PLC and National Grid Plc. I now have a plural career on various boards.

Who or what influenced you to train as a lawyer? 

No one. I was determined not to go work in a bank or be an accountant – lots of jobs in both professions in Guernsey – and also lots of lawyers (advocates as they are called there). However, as soon as I experienced living in the UK, I was not keen on returning to Guernsey.

What does your current role with the Equality and Human Rights Commission involve? 

In a nutshell, Commissioners are non-executive directors. We are there to challenge and support the executive team. I also sit on the audit and risk committee and people and workplace committee. I am particularly interested in the work the Commission does with respect to harassment and bullying and mental health issues.

You’ve had such a varied career, which aspects have you enjoyed the most and why?

I was never that keen on the law per se. What I love are the commercial and business aspects of it. I have also had a wide range of responsibilities as general counsel including risk and compliance, ethics, inclusion and diversity, corporate reporting etc. Being able to develop from a general counsel to being on the boards of different companies and becoming a chair has been great. I would encourage lawyers to move out of their comfort zones. I also enjoy meeting so many different people in the various organisations with which I have been associated.

What does success mean to you? 

Feeling one has achieved something worthwhile. That a tiny part of the world or someone in it is better off because of something I have said or done.

Imagine a time when you felt like giving up. What helped you bounce back? 

A supportive husband and two spaniels all of whom love me whatever is happening. They have been so important during dark days during the pandemic.

What careers advice would you give to your younger self? 

Don’t worry so much.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about life and / or work outside of a formal education setting or away from the office?

Expect the unexpected. Whenever you are on an up, remember that a down will come. Whenever things look grim, in the words of Captain Sir Tom Moore “tomorrow will be a better day”. Life never turns out quite as one expects but that’s part of the fun – and it keeps us on our toes!

If there were one skill you could’ve excelled at during your formative years as a lawyer what would that be? 

Managing with very little sleep! Unfortunately, I’ve always needed eight hours plus a night.