SA expat takes good marketing to global stage

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By Amanda Smith

With a global CV that rivals her passport for stamps, Helen Ahrens, is a “geotransient” businesswoman and marketer who has worked and studied in Korea, America, New Zealand, Singapore, England, Spain and most recently, Canada. Although, it’s her string of hybrid marketing-business positions that have forged Helen’s ties to Adelaide.

Best known in the mentoring and guest lecturing space, for her presence at Hub Australia, the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab, RMIT University, and Flinders University – she’s become a Global Academic Judge in Business for the Undergraduate Awards.

Helen found synergy between the corporate and education world though entrepreneurship. Driven by curiosity and a “love for the unknown”, Helen is passionate about leading teams in delivering bold results for her clients and support for emerging talent.

After years working in strategic and hands-on marketing teams, the calibre of the SANFL, and the South Australian Government as well as two Adelaide-based international tech firms, Helen broke ground, launching her own agency, Good Things Marketing – a company she’s taken to the global stage, working with some of the world’s biggest brands.

Former Adelaidean Helen Ahrens is senior customer access manager at Hootsuite in Toronto, Canada.

Through her dual strategy-leadership approach, Helen has gone on to successfully develop and launch four businesses across industries.

Helen’s agency was SA’s first Hootsuite Partner Agency, which became the ‘in’ for her next North American stint. This time, in the fastest growing start-up hub in the continent, Toronto in Canada. So, it’s come as no surprise that Helen has since proclaimed Toronto as her new home for now.

Helen is the global senior customer success manager at the world’s most widely adopted social relationship platform, Hootsuite. Since starting in June 2018, she has won a slew of awards including: Road Warrior Award in 2018 for Customer Success, Build A Better Way Award in 2018 for Customer Success and was a top performing global Customer Success Manager in Q3 2018.

“I work across Canada, the United States of America, Europe and beyond with Hootsuite’s global, strategic and complex enterprise clients. I love all of my clients and am surrounded by my dream team of colleagues,” Helen says.

She has been able to continue her interest in academia, guest lecturing at both the University of Toronto’s Rotman Business School and Ryerson University.

Helen Ahrens, third from left, with Good Things Marketing team members.

Helen is currently the ‘token Aussie’ in the East Coast office, where she best explains Adelaide as “the Niagara on the Lake or the Napa Valley of Australia”.

“It’s all about great wine, farm to table food and gorgeous countrysides,” she says. It has an added bonus of the best beaches, too” – a luxury that Torontonians need to travel a day to enjoy.

Helen proudly touches on the evolution of Adelaide, even since she left in March 2018. “…particularly in the tech and startup spaces – it has matured by leaps and bounds”.

“I do love Adelaide. My partner and I left for Toronto to broaden not only our career, but also our cultural aptitude and life experiences,” she shares.

Helen touches on an important point in that there is often a mix of motivators for those who choose to uproot themselves and leave home. The adventure is more often a journey of self-expansion and seeking to understand, than it is of wanting to leave what’s behind.

But Helen certainly did her research, rather than just hopping between countries on a whim.

“I very much had a laser focus on joining a large tech company to work with global companies and knew Toronto was where the Northern American tech scene was thriving,” she says.

The Riverland-born entrepreneur plans to return to SA later this year for a visit. When asked if she feels emotionally connected to Adelaide, Helen aptly responds, “Yes, but home is always where you want it to be”.

“I do miss those small town city vibes, the easy lifestyle and low cost of scenic living, though,’ she says. “I’d move back to Adelaide if the right opportunity arose.”

However, Helen is also honest with herself and knows she thrives just outside her comfort zone… both, where she wants to be and what she likes to do. It’s her intuition combined with a ‘trust the journey’ philosophy that have helped her smoothly transition from CEO back to employee. One thing’s for sure… we haven’t seen or heard the last of Helen in Adelaide.

The Hello From SA network is sharing the stories of SA expats from around the world. Do you know a South Aussie living, working or learning abroad? Get in touch via the Hello From SA Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

Hello from SA is the global community for South Australians living, working and learning interstate and abroad.

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