Skip to main content

Inspirational female colleagues share their experiences to mark International Women's Day

This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating some of our inspirational female colleagues who are making a huge contribution to Asda across the UK.

March 8, 2021 08:00am
Share this on

Here Helen Mead, our Senior Director – Retail, and Carrie Henehan, our People Business Manager for North Scotland, write about their experiences with Asda.

Asda celebrates International Women's Day 2021

Helen (pictured left) writes:

"I have been with Asda for 24 years and have had some amazing highs and a few big lows and learning curves. I am now a Senior Director in Retail and can remember a time years ago when that was something that seemed impossible. I’ve now been running regions for seven years, and it took me a long time to have the confidence and self-belief to know that I had earned my place and had real value to add, not only to my region but to the broader business. Now I am passionate about supporting and helping others who start a new journey but feel the infamous ‘imposter syndrome’

"After doing most roles in stores, I looked up to a fantastic group of male general store managers (GSMs) with loads to offer, lots of experience and never dreamed they would one day be peers. I was not so much tapped on the shoulder but more ‘pushed off a cliff’ into GSM development and am so grateful I was. After this, I stepped out of my comfort zone to run Communications in Home Office (something I had no background it but learnt fast) and then came out to run Supermarkets, Livings and three Superstore regions. Every time I have learnt something different, and every time I recognise I am not the finished article and can always learn, evolve and do better. I have also learnt to recognise my strengths, have more confidence in my ability and that actually it is a good thing to not know everything and to keep asking questions.

"At times I feel like I’m not doing enough and need to do more in work, or that I need to be a better Mum. I have to remind myself that it is a balance and actually I am good at both. That doesn’t mean the guilt goes away and trying to find time for other stuff e.g. exercising and looking after myself often takes a back seat.

"Throughout my career I have heard comments such as ‘you got the job because you are a woman’, ‘because you are pregnant’ and ‘there’s special treatment as a woman’ – and honestly, it hurts. But that is the minority of people and those are the micro-aggressions that I choose to challenge. I have built great networks, friendships, have learnt loads from my peers, and continue to do so.

"So, what’s next – who knows? All I know is that it's tough, challenging, frustrating at times ... and flipping brilliant! I am never bored, I am learning all the time and know that what we do makes a difference. Bring on the future challenges!"

Carrie writes:

"This year is my 29th year with Asda! Little dd I know when I joined at 16, that I’d have such a long career and find my dream role.

"I joined in 1992 as a part-time produce colleague at our Milton store in Dundee whilst at school and university, where I studied Engineering. In my summer placements as part of my Engineering degree I found it really difficult to be taken seriously as a young female engineer, and although it was something I had wanted to do for a very long time, I lost my passion for the industry.

"I decided to progress in Asda and was promoted to supervisor. This was one of the most challenging roles I’ve faced – I knew I needed to gain the respect of colleagues who I had worked with a long time to be taken seriously as their supervisor role. I did this through open and honest communication, being there to provide support, and having a laugh along the way. The team thrived and achieved great success.

"Throughout the roles in my career (and there have been many of them!) my biggest challenge has been myself. I have ADHD and a generalised anxiety disorder, and I am my own worst critic - I find most of the obstacles in my way are created by me!

"Every day at work, as well as at home, I need to push myself out of my comfort zone, whether that is meeting new people or going into new stores, or sometimes even just taking the dog for a walk. I have to think it through and prepare myself, take a deep breath and convince myself I can do it. There are times I don’t manage to convince myself, and I’m learning to accept that too. The worst that can happen is I fail, but in failing I learn and in learning I develop my ability to meet the next challenge and every day is certainly a challenge.

"The best advice I can give others is to try not to limit yourself. Often we are our own worst critic and this is not how others may see us. Be kind to yourself!”

Our story


© ASDA 2024