Q&A with Helen James, GM People and Culture

As General Manager of People and Culture, Helen James is part of Fronde’s Executive Leadership Team. “I provide strategic people, safety, communication and community leadership as well as advice and coaching throughout the business. 

How long have you worked in the IT industry? 

This is my first role in the IT industry, and I have been with Fronde for ten months. 

Have you worked in other industries?  How do they compare?

All of my roles have concentrated on the people who work for the organisation, so no matter what industry I have been in there are always similar challenges such as balancing what the team needs versus what the organisation requires.  

What I have learned is that people are people - everyone is an individual, but there is something that everyone wants, and that is to work toward a common purpose and goal.

What do you remember from your first few days at Fronde? 

My first few days at Fronde were at the end of the 2021 Auckland lockdown, I was able to travel for the first time out of Auckland and went to Wellington to meet the team, which was exciting on many fronts. 

What do you enjoy about working at Fronde?  What attracted you initially, and what makes you stay?

As with all companies I have worked for, the team here at Fronde makes it enjoyable.  Frondies are passionate, committed and the team moves quickly to ensure the best outcomes and solutions for our customers. 

What technologies have had the greatest impact on your life, both personally and professionally?

I could not have imagined when I started in my career, many moons ago, that I could have had a team that worked remotely from me or that so much could be achieved over a video chat, because there wasn’t video chat back then. I remember my first PC and word processing program (First Choice), I also remember using a dial phone to connect to the internet and the introduction of fax machines to the office. Over the past two years technology has played a more important role in what my team and I do, by being able to stay connected no matter the location.


Do you have any predictions for the industry?

The IT industry in NZ will continue to go from strength to strength, New Zealanders’ “can do” attitude and willingness to take on new challenges will ensure that it will continue to flourish.


Who inspires you? Why?

I have been lucky enough to have some amazing mentors in my career, who have assured me that remaining authentic is the most important thing I can do.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself outside of work?

Almost everyone who I have ever worked with will tell you that I am a crazy cat lady, which I dont deny. I enjoy reading crime novels and spending time on our boat in the summer. I am also a mad keen gift wrapper (every year a different theme for Christmas, you get the jist!).

This year is ten years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it came like a shot out of the blue, with no family history. Although it took a while for me to get my head around what had happened and understand the life lessons from that experience, I now know that being happy about going to work everyday matters - and being part of the team at Fronde makes me very happy.