TGt Meets...Helen Adams - IWD Special
As part of our series of interviews with inspirational women for International Women's Day, we caught up with Helen Adams, founder of Oakmead Clinic, nutritional therapist, qualified functional medicine practitioner and published author!
Name: Helen Adams
Location: Wiltshire and Bath
Occupation: Founder of Oakmead Clinic, nutritional therapist, qualified functional medicine practitioner and published author.
Which woman would you compare yourself to?
None. I’m one of a kind
What would you say is your most valuable skill and why?
Passion. If I decide to do something, it will be done. Throughout my business career, I was told so many times that I couldn’t do this or that because I was a woman - usually by a man (sorry, but true!). Yet I achieved a very senior corporate job with a six-figure salary. In my 50’s I left all that behind, retrained and started a new healthcare clinic, and wrote my first book. Just a few years later, I am one of only 16 nutritionists in the UK to achieve the Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner award, and I never stop learning – from my family, my healthcare clients, the whole world really! I’m currently studying an MSc in Public Health and hope to go on to a PhD. I have endless curiosity, and every day is a new day
Why do you think it's important to have an International Women's Day?
We are usually so busy taking care of and organising everything around us, keeping the plates spinning and generally being super-women that we don’t realise just how special we all are. It’s good to take a moment to recognise what we do every day without even thinking about it really is a big deal.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
To me, balance is not about sitting around doing nothing. I have a wonderful family, two small dogs, and I’m a keen violinist. I play in two local orchestras (Trowbridge Symphony Orchestra and the Full Tone Orchestra) and two quartets (‘No Strings Attached,’ and another one just for fun), with regular concert performances. Music is food for the soul, and it’s a joy to be involved with groups of other musicians, all having fun. Apart from that, I can’t tell my clients about work/life balance if I don’t have it myself!
Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career?
Yes. Big corporate ambitions come at a big cost. Late nights in the office were one thing, but when I was expected to split my time equally between India and the Isle of Man, with only one day of the weekend at home to see my family, I drew the line and said ‘No.’ I’m sure I missed out on a lot of my childrens growing up – but I would have made a terrible ‘stay-at-home-Mum.’
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?
Wanting to help people is not enough. Setting up a business takes commitment, networking, patience, a great deal of hard work and perseverance. If a project doesn’t deliver what you expected it would, you have to pick yourself up, learn from it and try again – only better. If this puts you off – that’s the right answer for you. If it makes you want to do it all the more – that’s the right answer for you. We’re all different and that’s a good thing. We need to find our ‘niche’ – sometimes that takes time and experimentation.
If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be and why?
I would choose women who changed the lives of those around them as well as their own:
1) Madonna – she wasn’t that good when she started out, but she persevered, reinvented herself several times, challenged the status quo, did it her own way and had a long and successful career
2) Dame Evelyn Glennie – she is a virtuoso solo percussionist who has been profoundly deaf since the age of 12. Initially, she was refused a place to study at the music colleges because of her deafness, but she overcame this. Using sound vibrations instead of hearing, she is now an international star and performs all over the world. She is truly amazing to have such passion for music and overcome such an obstacle
3) Queen Elizabeth I. If we think it can be tough for women now, just think what it was like then!
4) Dame Sally Davies. She is the first female Chief Medical Officer in England. She has done a fantastic job managing the politics and taking a stand on important issues like antibiotic resistance. She has been hugely influential in many public health issues, from pandemic flu to Ebola
5) Emmeline Pankhurst. As a result of her actions, women got the vote and all of our lives have been different as a result.
As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I have so many ideas and things I want to do. I will have written some more books (I have some titles in mind), continued to grow my business – again, I have no shortage of ideas. I will have enjoyed researching my PhD. I can picture myself with some little bolt-hole in a warm climate to share with my family, with the fastest internet possible so I can still be balancing work and home life, and exploring new things. I’ll still be playing the violin, and I might even get around to practising all those scales that I’ve avoided since childhood (the saying is: “scales are our friends”, but I always manage to find something else to do when I get to that part of practice!)
As I grow older, I am increasingly appreciating the fact that I am a leader - in fact, we are all leaders and authors of our lives - but it is up to us to step up and take responsibility. If I am here in 10 years, then I hope I continue to have the courage to grow into my leadership so I can contribute to society and our planet. I believe that we are all responsible for the story of humanity and where our planet currently is. If we wish for a more peaceful, equal world, especially for women, we need to become the leaders we truly are and help create it.