After several years in senior roles at companies such as Motorola and Boots, Helen decided to launch a start-up that provides menopause information and support.
“If you’d asked me five years ago, if I would leave the corporate world to become an entrepreneur, I would have said: ‘On your bike, never in a million years!’ ” Helen Normoyle says with a laugh.
After a three-decade career that took her to the top of companies such as Motorola, DFS, and Boots, Helen has recently taken on a very different role. She is now the co-founder of a start-up that provides women with menopause information and support.
Helen, aged 55, decided to take the leap after her own menopause made her passionate about helping other women with this transition. Moreover, like many older workers, she felt that having some variety in our careers is a natural step as we all live and work for longer.
“In every decade of my life, I’d [like to] do or try something different…I think that’s really important, to challenge yourself and to keep your brain active,” she says.
Helen grew up in a small village in Ireland and, as a teenager, her ambition was to travel. After graduating from university with a Business Studies degree, she soon embarked on a career in market research and marketing that took her around the world.
Helen travelled across Europe in her first job for a German market research company, and around the world in her second job for Motorola. She went on to work as the chief marketing officer (CMO) at large organisations such as the BBC, DFS and Boots.
She hugely enjoyed her corporate career – and yet things were about to change.
Around the time Helen turned 50, she had menopause symptoms that took her by surprise – hot flushes, night sweats, and brain fog. She started discussing this with a friend, who was a doctor specialising in menopause, and they started to realise that many midlife women didn’t have the information and support they needed.
Helen decided to take a leap. She left her CMO role at Boots in 2020 and the two women launched their start-up, My Menopause Centre, the following year. They used their own funds to start the company but it now covers its costs – Helen’s husband, an accountant, helped them to plan a timeframe for this.
For Helen, it was a big career shift. She was used to overseeing multi-million-pound budgets and hundreds of employees. Now she was teaching herself WordPress – and there was no one to whom she could delegate tasks.
“When you’re a small business owner, you’ve just got to do it yourself, roll up your sleeves and muck in,” she says. “But I love learning and I love being challenged.”
Helen’s advice for fellow older workers is to pause and consider what they want from the coming decades. “Think about the fact that, if you’re in your 50s, you could live for another 30-40 years,” she says. “If you have that perspective, what’s the life that you want to live…and where does your job or career fit into that?”
She adds that getting out of your comfort zone and trying new roles can be nerve-wracking – but it has many benefits.
“You have to back yourself a bit to do it, because it is scary,” she says. “But I think sometimes you’ve got to take a calculated risk…Because otherwise you live a very small life in a very small box.”
My Menopause Centre offers a mix of free and paid-for resources about this transition. You can find free information and online events, and you can also book private appointments with specialists.