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Case Study - Esther McHugh

Esther McHugh, Business Manager, Helm

Tell me about your business.

Esther McHugh - Head shotWe are a leading construction consultancy practice run by a highly-skilled, experienced and diligent team of project managers and cost consultants. At Helm, the majority of our work comes from flagship projects in the commercial, hospitality, education, healthcare and residential sectors, but we also have a wealth of experience working on a plethora of equally demanding projects from a range of high-profile private clients too.

Our success has largely been built on our exceptional service delivery. Our team bring not only their skills and experience to every project they work on but also their passion and drive. This approach really embodies what Helm is all about, so much so that a “total commitment to the project” now forms a large part of our broader ethos. We manage the team, we represent our clients, and we provide a high-quality service every time. 

What were the key business challenges you were facing before joining the Help to Grow programme?

First and foremost, we recently undertook a tricky corporate rebrand and were in the process of finding our feet, ensuring our new narrative and communications were consistent and on-brand while ensuring we didn’t inadvertently step into an identity crisis or experience resistance or confusion from current clients.

Secondary to this is the current recruitment market.  Like many other industries, we were, and still are finding it particularly challenging to attract and retain new talent. This is by no means a challenge unique to us at Helm, but nonetheless was still causing us problems. Finally, we had a few small challenges in attracting new clients at the optimal rate. Striking a balance between not enough clients and too many for the team's current capacity is never easy, but when compounded by the issues in staffing, we had to take action. 

How has the programme helped to provide solutions to these challenges?

The Help to Grow: Management Programme has helped us in so many ways. First, we now ensure that we promote our vision and values and place our narrative in a human context. This means that we now communicate to potential new clients or employees not just what we do but who we are. This has proved invaluable to us, particularly considering our recent rebrand, because we now have a solid and consistent voice, so all our clients feel familiar with us and know exactly what we are about and what to expect.

Developing a marketing strategy consistent with the new rebrand and identity is key for Helm’s continued growth. We now have a tailored and structured strategy in place and have seen particular success using social media to showcase our achievements and promote our valued employees. We have a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve and know the steps we will take to get there.

Finally, having an experienced and impartial personal mentor, who acts as your own advocate and understands the nuances of your business, is crucial to ensuring your plans make sense and that you understand the specific challenges you are facing correctly. The programme teaches you the theory you need to grow, but it also works with you to develop it into a bespoke, actionable strategy specific to you. The solutions and learning provided have proved to not only address the challenges we were aware we had but have also helped us to predict future challenges before they arise and streamline our operations accordingly. 

What have been the key benefits for your personal development and your organisation as a whole?

The programme has been incredible for me, it’s exposed me to aspects of the business that I haven’t experienced or considered before. I’ve always had a clear understanding of how all the pieces fit together and how relationships internally, both within the team and interdepartmentally, are integral to our business's smooth and efficient operation. But now, I’ve learned how to optimise each piece and to work proactively to predict and neutralise challenges. 

The result of this has been the evolution of my role from managing the day-to-day running of the business and working closely with the directors to now including aspects of business development. I have become a better leader and have increased confidence levels when it comes to suggesting and implementing change. This is obviously great for me and my career development but also for Helm, as I am in a position to bring a fresh perspective and creative new ideas to the company and how it is run. 

What would you say to another business considering signing up for Help to Grow?

Give it a go! Even though you know your business inside out, this course gives you the vision to readdress your policies and ensure that the business is moving with the times. The mentoring sessions alone are worth it.

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