10 Things You Didn’t Know About Helena Helmersson

Ever wondered for a second about the mastermind running the operations of one of the world’s biggest fashion houses – H&M? Meet Helena Helmersson, a compelling figure breaking that stereotype of fashion moguls. With a heap of knowledge and experiences rallying behind her, Helena stands apart as a representative of success, humility, and resilience. Upon digging a bit deeper, we discovered ten facets about this contemporary fashion icon that might surprise you.

1. She’s H&M’s First Female CEO

Perhaps rather shockingly, it wasn’t until 2021 that H&M was managed by a woman, and that woman is none other than Helena Helmersson. Helena, who has been with the company since 1997, assumed the CEO role in January 2021, making H&M history.

Her appointment stands as a testament to her capability and dedication to the H&M brand over the years, displaying an intriguing model of corporate longevity.

2. Her Humble Beginnings

Despite her current towering position, Helena’s journey began rather modestly. She was born and raised in Sweden and graduated from the University of Borås with a Master’s in Economics.

Her career at H&M started at the bottom, like many successful figures. Starting as an economist at the purchasing department, she slowly moved up the ladder proving perseverance and dedication results in success.

3. Dedication to Sustainability

Helmersson is a strong advocate for sustainable fashion, an ethos she has brought to her time at H&M. Prior to the CEO position, she was H&M’s head of sustainability, ensuring the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

This commitment has carried through her tenure as CEO, with the company setting ambitious sustainable goals to become 100 percent circular and climate positive by 2030.

4. International Exposure

Helmersson has truly had a global career. Her role at H&M took her across the world, from Bangladesh to China, where she worked on sustainability projects and ethical initiatives.

Through these experiences, Helmersson has gained a unique perspective and understanding of the fashion industry, both at a local and global scale.

5. Her Motivation

Helmersson attributes a lot of her success and motivation to her parents, who taught her the value of hard work.

A woman of strong principles, Helena’s work is driven by her belief that profitable growth and sustainability should go hand in hand– a belief she worked to instil in the operations of H&M.

6. Family Life

Helena Helmersson is not only a successful businesswoman, but she’s also a dedicated mother and wife.

Balancing a busy work schedule with family demands is a challenge, but it’s one that Helmersson has managed to juggle successfully showing the essence of a strong-willed woman.

7. Her Successor

Before being H&M’s CEO, Helena was the COO working under the then CEO, Karl-Johan Persson. It is significant to note that Persson is the son of the company’s founder, making Helena the first non-family member to hold the position.

Since taking over from Persson, she has continued to steer the company through a challenging global retail environment, showing strength and determination that stands out in the industry.

8. Helena’s Approach to Leadership

She advocates for transparent leadership– according to Helena, leading with honesty fosters trust amongst employees, paving the way for a productive work environment.

Helmersson’s leadership style is guided by her belief in empathy, listening, and openness to different perspectives to make informed decisions.

9. Crisis Management

No stranger to crisis management, Helena assumed leadership of the brand amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, demonstrating an excellent resilience quality.

Under her leadership, H&M has managed to navigate these unprecedented times, displaying her robust crisis management skills.

10. Her Outlook on the Future of Fashion

Helmersson believes that the future of the fashion industry lies in sustainability and innovation. She understands that for fashion to flourish, it needs to do so responsibly.

Emphasizing on the need for the fashion industry to transform, she sees innovation and new technologies as the key to driving sustainability in fashion.

Check out Helena’s take on the future of fashion here .


While we often acknowledge the brand, the tale of the individuals behind its success deserves attention. From her humble beginnings to becoming the first female CEO of H&M, Helena Helmersson’s journey is an inspiration to many. Her dedication to sustainable fashion and unique leadership style provide useful insights into shaping industry norms and creating a more responsible future. This is just the exemplary life of Helena Helmersson, a woman of consequence in today’s fashion industry.

For more about H&M sustainability goals, visit here.