Balancing the budget is a key skill to aspire to, but Grosvenor Place Finance Manager Helen Grouvas can truly boast a capacity to balance life well beyond the budget. As a patron of Opera, an avid runner with her secret local routes, a fan of all things architecture and art and a coffee aficionado, not to mention a lover of food, Ferrari’s and her favourite local pub, her insights from nearly 21 years at Grosvenor Place are pure gold.
Helen arrived for her interview for the role of Assistant Accountant in 1998, marvelling at the sheer size and form of the building until she was escorted to the level 10 offices that revealed the majestic views that Grosvenor Place affords. “I was sold hook, line and sinker,” she said of that first encounter.
But it was the unfolding discovery of Harry Seidler’s genius in design that has continued to impress Helen. She describes the vast ground floor level spaces as a rarity in city towers, the Frank Stella artworks that “are so grand” add a sense of culture and her new favourite, the hidden Rose Seidler mural inspired artwork on the refurbished piazza rooftop.
“The building is timeless, a real classic in the Sydney skyline.”
As an avid runner, Helen habitually comes in early to make time for a morning run. Over the years this healthy habit has led her to many discoveries. “My favourite places to run are through the secret laneways in the Rocks, or saying hi to Benny the seal behind the Opera House on the steps as I run by. The Botanical Gardens are always so fresh and peaceful – a great run or walk to clear the mind and start the day right“.
Helen says location is everything at Grosvenor Place. “Harry Seidler once described Grosvenor Place as a camera lens on the view and I totally agree – every floor maximises your opportunity to enjoy 360-degree views of Sydney,” she said.
The incredible location of Grosvenor Place allows Helen to explore many passions outside the office. “I try to see one to two Operas per year at the Opera House – one inside and one on the water (both are a must do experience), I have been to a few cheeky Cabarets at the Opera House too like LA Soiree. I usually enjoy attending the Archibald Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW and various art exhibitions there throughout the year,” she says.
The revitalisation of the downtown area over the past 20 years has added interest and art into the cityscape. Helen’s favourite local laneways are Angel Place where a canopy of singing birdcages are suspended in mid-air – “it makes you smile without fail, it is beautiful,” and Underwood Street where “a tree has been tipped on its side and suspended 10 metres above ground as a tangible connection to Sydney’s colonial and Indigenous past, – I am always in awe walking down this lane.”
Grosvenor Place itself has been undergoing a revitalisation in the past few years and Helen nominates the luxurious End of Trip Facilities at the Camerino as the game changer for exercising and riding to work. “No other End of Trip rivals the attention to detail, the quality or the service!” she says.
The building is always updating with Seidler’s vision for this masterpiece. Helen points to the Inner Lobby Refurbishment in 2008-09 as a massive undertaking. “Before this the rear lobby was not enclosed, it was all open. This refurbishment was on a huge scale so next time you are sitting or walking through the rear lobby look at all the glass it took to enclose it, just amazing!”
Over 21 years there have been numerous memorable moments but Helen cites the Millennium Y2K as a team moment. “It was taken very seriously by Grosvenor Place, so our team came in to work on site that New Year’s Eve to ensure everything went smoothly, now that is dedication!”
“Sydney 2000 Olympics was a special time to be in the Sydney CBD, every night was a party, there were screens everywhere, people from all over the world in the CBD. As a team we watched the opening ceremony in the boardroom of out then office on level 10.”
“When Earth Hour started in 2007, I registered Grosvenor Place for it! This is a great movement uniting people to act on environmental issues and protect the planet.”
A little less environmental but a great moment was the Ferrari exhibitions on the Piazza in 2002 and 2008.
“Christmas is a special time at Grosvenor Place, we have always done a toy drive for charity and endeavour to make the building as festive as we can, plus we participate in Daffodil Day every year since I have worked at Grosvenor Place, buying daffodils from the Cancer Council to hand out to our tenants.”
“We give out Easter eggs to our tenants every year – who doesn’t love chocolate right – it is these small things that make a difference to the every day and the sense of community at Grosvenor Place.”
It is the Management Team that Helen says creates the ‘all for one and one for all’ culture, like being in a family. “We are only ten people, but everyone cares so much about Grosvenor Place and we are always willing to go the extra mile. We have some longstanding traditions that bond us like the annual Christmas cricket bat made by our project manager for everyone to sign – there are 20 now! – and our pilgrimage to the team’s favourite pub, Phillips Foote in The Rocks, to wrap up the year.”