After returning to the north-east as a deputy principal, in a departure from her vocation, in 2009 she moved away from education to become a consultant in the construction sector, helping firms bid for new contracts. In 2011, she was approached to do consultancy at Ipswich Academy when it opened. After three years as a consultant she was appointed as associate principal before becoming first interim principal and then permanent principal in 2017. Helen became CEO in September 2020.