Helen Freestone

clock • 3 min read

Director of partnerships & alliances, Vodafone

Tell us something most people won't know about you

I went to the same school (and was in the same class) as Zoe Ball.

What has been your highlight of 2018 so far?

I was lucky enough to attend the London Business School for a week as part of the Vodafone Leadership Talent Programme. We heard from some amazing speakers, professors and academics about our potential futures and how to lead in that context. It changed my perspective in terms of where we are now, what is coming and how we need to be thinking differently.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Jodie Foster (she is awesome).

Which tech firm (other than your own!) do you most admire?

Boston Dynamics. Now owned by Google, founded in the 1990s out of MIT, it is making the Sci-Fi of my childhood a reality. If you have a look at some of the YouTube videos of what these robots can now do, and combine that with emerging AI, the potential is mind-blowing. I can't watch one of their videos without getting super-excited about what the future holds for us.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

5am, green tea, porridge and half an hour of reading the Telegraph before I start my work day. Real me time.

What is the most irritating tech buzzphrase of 2018?

For me it's about people using the word ‘digital' out of context. Being digital is something we all must embrace and it's not the future, it is here and if you haven't already done it you are being left behind. That's why businesses need to put the effort into becoming digital and not just prefix established systems as such. Only when we fully embrace the needs of our customers and address them through simplification, integration, automation can we truly say we're digital. 

What would be your first act if you were made Prime Minister?

Everyone has to be a little bit kinder to each other.

What's the biggest untapped opportunity facing the channel?

We have yet to see the full power of AI and automation. It is going to fundamentally change the way we work, think, interact and possibly our entire social fabric. It has amazing power for good and untapped potential. If we as an industry get ahead of the thinking and embrace it, we can create a different type of future for our companies, employees and customers.

What is your most treasured possession?

My cat (although she would not see herself as being ‘owned' by me or anyone). She has been with me for 17 years, seen me through the good times and bad. She has seen my triumphs and failures yet has loved consistently through them all.

What do your family think you do all day?

Drink coffee, chat, play golf, go to lunches, dinners and award ceremonies.

Who has been your mentor in business?

My partner. He is FD in a major corporate and very good at bringing me down to earth, frequently with coaching such as "Well you are the leader, go sort it!".

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