International Women’s Day interview

Helen Massy, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Career Pursuit, a Community Interest Company that provides career support to military spouses and partners.

Pinnacle supports Career Pursuit in a number of ways including via sponsorship of their magazine and through our social value programme: providing career coaching and mentoring to Helen and the individuals she works with.


In the interview below, Helen outlines her top tips for women in the workplace as well as explaining how Pinnacle’s support is making a tangible difference for military spouses, partners and families. 

Hi there Helen, Pinnacle is really proud to be supporting Career Pursuit as part of our Social Value work. Can you explain a little bit about what Career Pursuit do?

Career Pursuit is a non-profit magazine and online platform providing employment and business support to British Forces military spouses and partners.


At Career Pursuit, we believe in the limitless potential of military spouses, partners, and veterans by providing comprehensive support and opportunities to maximise their professional journey.


Although many organisations provide career support to military families, until Career Pursuit was developed four years ago, there has been no central way of learning about them. The government-commissioned ‘Living in our Shoes’ report highlights the lack of a much-needed single point of access for Forces families. 

Through working collaboratively with the MOD Partner Employment Steering Group and all relevant key organisations, Career Pursuit has fulfilled this requirement by
bringing all the available employment and business resources into one place.


Finding and navigating relevant career support for spouses or partners can take many months. Career Pursuit enables better access to employment support, business support, training, and workshops. 


At present, Career Pursuit is a magazine available in both hard copy and digitally. The magazine is available in print at every UK military HIVE/tri-service information office, via the Families Federations, via the Forces Employment Charity, in Military Co-Working Hubs, and via post. 


Our online platform encompasses a digital version of our magazine for worldwide accessibility, alongside employment and entrepreneurial resources and a comprehensive event calendar. It is a one-stop resource hub to empower military spouses and partners through career change. 

Why did you set it up?

Military spouses are incredibly resilient, but there’s no denying the hurdles we face in our careers. Imagine constantly picking up your life and moving to a new location, every few years.


Your CV starts to look like a travel brochure, filled with breaks and new beginnings. You might have to transition careers entirely, depending on the job market at the new base. Add to that the stress of deployments and the worries that come with your partner being away. It’s a lot to manage.


Career Pursuit is a grassroots organisation built by the military community for the military community. I had to leave a lengthy career in the NHS due to international military postings and begin a new career. During this transition, I found it incredibly difficult to find career support. However, after months of research, I found there is a wealth of support – but nowhere to find out about it. And hence, the first Career Pursuit magazine was born from my kitchen table in our military house in Canada.


I saw this overwhelming challenge military spouses face and said ‘there has to be a better way!’  At Career Pursuit we’ve built a one-stop shop for all things career-related, specifically designed for military families. No more getting lost in a maze of websites and programs.


Career Pursuit brings everything together – resources, tools, support, events – all in one place. 


We understand the unique challenges military spouses/partners face, and we know you don’t have to go it alone. Career Pursuit is here to be your partner in career success, every step of the way.

How's Pinnacle's support making a difference?

Pinnacle has been an incredible partner for Career Pursuit, supporting us in several key ways.


Firstly, the sponsorship provided in 2023 has been vital. It helps us keep the magazine running, a valuable resource for military families. The more families we reach through Pinnacle, the more lives we can impact.  


Thanks to Pinnacle’s sponsorship, we distributed 2000 printed copies of the magazine, an additional 500 copies above the previous year. 


Secondly, I’m fortunate to be part of Pinnacle’s VSCE mentoring program. My mentors provide invaluable guidance on organisation planning, strategy development, and community support. Bouncing ideas off experienced professionals has been instrumental in growing Career Pursuit as a Community Interest Company (CIC).  


Finally, the ongoing collaboration with Pinnacle fosters strong communication and networking opportunities. We’ve partnered on new projects and initiatives, expanding the resources available to the military community. This collaborative spirit ensures Career Pursuit remains sustainable and continues to grow its impact.  


Career Pursuit has supported Pinnacle in launching a career programme specifically for 18-24 year olds in military families, which is currently in its pilot stage. 

What do you love about your job?

First and foremost, I’m a writer at heart. Career Pursuit allows me to use that passion to create engaging and informative content for the magazine.  


There’s immense satisfaction in crafting an article or story that empowers military spouses and partners navigating career transitions.  The magazine itself might seem like a simple concept, but its ability to save time and alleviate stress for these driven individuals is incredibly rewarding.


Career Pursuit goes beyond just spouses and partners.  We’re here to support the entire military community, including veterans, reservists, cadets, and even young people interested in exploring military careers.  It’s truly inspiring to hear from readers who’ve found that crucial piece of information in our magazine that helped transform their career path.

What's your background?

Running Career Pursuit CIC is just one of the hats I wear!  Here’s a glimpse into my world:

·       Busy Mum: I’m a proud mum of three energetic kids, aged 4, 6, and 9. Keeping them on track is a full-time job in itself! 

·       Military Spouse: My husband’s dedication to service has taken us on adventures around the world for over 20 years. I understand firsthand the unique challenges military families face.

·       Coffee-Fueled Writer: Yes, I confess to being a shameless coffee addict! It helps keep me going as I work as a global medical and health content writer and journalist. My passion lies in opening up conversations around sensitive health topics, particularly those impacting military families. 

·    Weasley the Wellbeing Dog: Our bouncy red setter, Weasley, brings a dose of joy and furry companionship to our busy household.  

Before Career Pursuit, I spent over a decade in the NHS as a physiotherapist and a clinical specialist in respiratory disease.  Military life led me to launch my freelance writing career, allowing me to continue working while raising our young family and navigating international relocations.


Launching Career Pursuit stemmed from my own experiences and a desire to empower other military spouses.  It’s been incredibly rewarding to see it grow into a valuable resource.


In addition to Career Pursuit, I’m also honoured to be part of the Ministry of Defence’s Partner Employment Working Group (PEWG).  This collaborative group provides essential information, support, and signposting for military families navigating employment challenges.  The PEWG is also behind the inspiring Celebrating Forces Families Awards, recognising the strength and achievements within the Armed Forces community. Being part of this team allows me to contribute on a wider scale.

What have you found tricky in your career (as a woman)?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered has been balancing the demands of a fulfilling career with the joys of parenthood.


Working 10-12 hour shifts and weekends in the NHS while navigating my husband’s military career presented a unique set of logistical hurdles.  Choosing to go part-time when my children were young was the best decision for our family, but I acknowledge it impacted my career progression in the NHS.


However, this experience also fostered valuable skills.  Adapting my work schedule honed my time management and organisational abilities.  While military relocations meant letting go of some opportunities, like a master’s degree, they also opened doors to new experiences.  Eventually, relocating internationally led me to launch my own business, a venture that wouldn’t have been possible within the NHS structure.  This entrepreneurial journey has been incredibly empowering, allowing me to build a flexible career around my family commitments.


Despite this, I have found that female entrepreneurs still face hurdles due to gender bias. Accessing funding can be tougher, as investors are often male and may be less likely to connect with business ideas presented by women.


Societal expectations can also make it difficult to balance business demands with childcare and household responsibilities. All of this can really make you doubt your abilities despite possessing the necessary skills and qualifications.

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I’m originally from Garstang in Lancashire and now we live in Baschurch, Shropshire.

We're marking International Women's Day this week. What woman or women inspire you?

There are countless women who inspire me, but two truly stand out at the moment:


·       Gabby Bernstein:  Her story resonates deeply.  She overcame her own challenges and emerged with a powerful message of hope and practical tools for personal growth.  I often turn to her work when I need a boost of optimism and actionable guidance.

·       Reshma Saujani:  Her dedication to empowering girls in tech is truly inspiring.  Her speech, ‘Imposter Syndrome is the Modern Day Bicycle Face,’ is a must-watch!  She tackles the self-doubt that holds so many women back and provides a powerful call to action for closing the gender gap in technology.

What are your top tips to other women in the workplace?

1. Find Your Tribe: The workplace can be tough, but you don’t have to go it alone. Build a network of supportive women, either within your company or through external groups. These connections can offer mentorship, advice, and a sense of belonging.

2. Embrace Your Strengths, Own Your Voice: Don’t underestimate your abilities. Identify your strengths and leverage them in your work. Confidence is key – speak up in meetings, advocate for your ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.

3. Negotiate with Confidence: Salary negotiations are daunting, but preparation is key. Research industry benchmarks for your position and practice your negotiation skills. Remember, your skills and experience are valuable – ask for fair compensation.

4. Invest in Continuous Learning: The world of work is constantly evolving. Stay ahead of the curve by taking online courses, attending workshops, or pursuing further education. Building your knowledge base keeps you sharp and opens doors to new opportunities.

5. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Prioritise your well-being. Set boundaries, delegate tasks effectively, and schedule time for activities you enjoy outside of work. A healthy balance reduces burnout and fuels your success in the long run.

The theme of International Women's Day this year is 'inspire inclusion'. What do you think workplaces can do to improve opportunities for women?

Here are my thoughts on what workplaces can do to improve opportunities for women:


·       Unconscious Bias Training: Implement mandatory unconscious bias training for all employees, including leadership. This raises awareness of the subtle ways bias can impact decision-making and hiring practices.

·       Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible work schedules, remote work options, and part-time opportunities. This allows women to manage childcare, eldercare, and other responsibilities without hindering career advancement.

·       Inclusive Language: Use gender-neutral language in job descriptions, communication, and performance reviews. This creates a welcoming environment for women of all backgrounds.

·       Return-to-Work Programs: Offer supportive return-to-work programs for women taking maternity leave or other family-related breaks. This helps reduce career disruptions and facilitates a smooth re-entry.

·       Transparent Promotion Criteria: Clearly define promotion criteria and career paths for all employees. Regular performance reviews that discuss these pathways empower women to actively work towards achieving goals.

·       Pay Equity Audits: Conduct regular pay equity audits to identify and address any gender-based pay gaps. Fair compensation demonstrates value and fosters trust.

·       Highlight Female Leaders: Promote successful women within the company as role models. Share their stories and journeys to inspire other aspiring female leaders.

By implementing these practices, workplaces can create a more inclusive environment where women feel valued, supported, and empowered to reach their full potential.