Oasis meets ZSL: Introducing Helen

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This month we’re celebrating the arrival of our majestic new collaboration with Zoological Society of London. So, we joined forces with some of the amazing team who work across ZSL to find out how they bring to life the amazing conservation work the charity does.

First up is Helen, who tells us all about the difference between her workday and weekend outfits, how she made her way to ZSL and which animal best describes her personality.

What’s an average day like for you?
I’m more of a field worker at heart, so my current office-based lifestyle means I fit in a lot of exercise and being a part time gym instructor has helped to fund the last bit of my PhD. Typically I’m up before 6am, either teaching or doing my own work-out before I get into work before 9. I’m pretty heads down at work, there is lot to be done! The days can vary, mostly I’m writing, running analysis or having meetings, but there’s always some variation as well, whether it be a conference, lunchtime seminars, or even getting involved in school education events. You can get involved in as much or little as you like here, it’s great. I’m terrible at chilling out in the evening, so if I don’t decide to work late I’m either doing some more sport or getting outside, and maybe finish the evening with a cheeky episode of Game of Thrones.

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When did you realise that this was your dream job?
I’m doing a PhD, and in all honesty I never quite imagined myself reaching this point! When I realised I was working with colleagues who are friends, collaborating with fellow conservationists from all over the world, and surrounded by truly passionate people dedicated to understanding our environment. Although it can get very stressful and tiring, I cannot remember the last time I had Monday morning blues!

And what brought you to ZSL?
Two of my main supervisors are based here at ZSL, but I am also registered with UCL. ZSL is fantastic for all of its UK and worldwide research, and the leading role it plays in putting conservation into action.

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We might be wrong, but we can’t imagine you reaching for a suit and tie in the morning. Tell us a bit more about your typical work outfit…
It’s very laid back here. I like smart casual, but feeling comfortable is key. Plus I cycle in and out every day so whatever clothes will survive being scrunched into a backpack!

And how would a weekend outfit compare? How do you style yourself in your down time?
Depends what I’m up to. If it’s night out then I do enjoy dressing up, but for the most part, some classy jeans or a denim skirt. I like tops with an unusual cut, like a batwing T-shirt or a backless jumper.

We’ve been so inspired by the amazing work ZSL do. How important is conservation and the protection of wildlife to you?
We only have one planet and it provides for us so much more than people are aware. We’ve become very disconnected from nature and it feels so important to me to inspire others, encouraging them to understand and care  for our environment. Not just because of the practical aspects, but because this world is so intricately designed down to the smallest scale, based on complex relationships that we may never understand but are so dependent on.  To not look after the environment means to lose more than we can imagine.

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 The EDGE programme and the wider work that the charity does has brought some really unique and unusual wildlife to our attention. What’s your favourite wildlife fact?
I recently found out that a baby anteater will still be carried on its mother’s back for nearly the whole first year of its life! By which point they’re nearly as big as mum!

Of all the animals ZSL works so hard to protect, which animal best describes you and your personality?
Haha – I would probably be an otter!  I’m not very good at sitting still, love exploring and love company.

And if you could be any animal for a day, which would you be?
They’re not based at ZSL, but I would definitely be an albatross because they’re simply amazing, I could fly for miles and see so much of the world!

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Do you prefer the company of wildlife, animals and nature to humans, because we definitely do sometimes?!
That will depend upon what day you catch me on, but to be honest I need them both. I love wildlife, but I adore my friends and family.

How would you describe the Oasis x ZSL collection?
Definitely a style that would catch my eye in the shop. Casual but classy, lots of colour and of course, it has animals!

Do you have a favourite piece from the collection? Anything you’re desperate to get into your wardrobe?
The blue skirt with the cheetahs – it’s gorgeous, you could dress it up or down, and the handbags are brilliant. I love handbags! I would also sneak in anything with zebras as well!

What’s been your most memorable moment working at ZSL?
Seeing two very dear PhD friends submit their theses and go through their vivas with flying colours. I know how hard a PhD is, the individual struggles and the passion required to do so. They gave blood, sweat and tears for their PhDs (who doesn’t?!) and I’m so proud of them.

Want to steal Helen’s style? Who wouldn’t?!  Browse her outfit and more here.

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