My Week: Helen McCallum, director of campaigns and communications, Which?

The director of campaigns and communications at Which? is cast as an evil old woman.

McCallum: takes the plane, not the train
McCallum: takes the plane, not the train


A meeting-free day is rare, so I make the most of it by ploughing through the ceiling-high pile of briefings and notes threatening to crush my desk. Personal finance, food, health, legal services, housing - it's a lot to take in, but that's one of the reasons I love this job. After work, I pore over the script for the latest production of my local amateur dramatics society. Why am I always cast as an evil old woman who kills her children?


If you'd asked me about the kind of things I thought I'd have to get my head round before I joined Which?, nanotechnology would not have been foremost in my thoughts. It sounds more like something out of Star Trek than an issue consumers should be concerned about. So it's a relief when my meeting with science minister Ian Pearson is blown out because he has been reshuffled. At least it gives me more time to swot up on the subject.


I jump on a flight to Edinburgh from Heathrow. Having worked for the Environment Agency for six years before I joined Which?, it's impossible not to feel a pang of guilt for not taking the train and reducing my carbon footprint. What's more (back in Which? mode now), flying just isn't a consumer-friendly experience any more, what with the delays caused by increased security and the fact that airlines seem to treat their customers like sheep. Why oh why didn't I catch the train?


I spend today catching up with Julia Clarke, our public affairs/press/anything-else-you'd-care-to-mention presence in Scotland. Julia does an amazing job lobbying on behalf of consumers north of the border and could teach me a thing or two about keeping up with several complex technical subjects at the same time.


One of my meetings today is with our 'green team'. Its job is to make Which? a greener organisation. When I arrived here less than a year ago, the staff greeted me as some kind of saviour who would make Which? carbon-neutral with one swish of my magic wand (I've also played the odd witch in my time). I'm not sure what was greater, their disappointment or their pride, when I told them they'd already started as many green initiatives as the Environment Agency.

Which? campaigns for consumer rights and publishes expert, unbiased advice.

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