Sunday, November 11, 2012

Government Supporting Women in Leadership | The Hon Julie Collins MP


Minister For Finance And Deregulation. In 2010, the Government committed to achieving a 40:40:20 gender balance target on Australian Government boards by 2015 and is on track to meeting this target. A number of organisation have also been announced as affiliates of the network Australian Institute of Company Directors, ASX, Chief Executive Women, Women on Boards and Women Leadership Institute of Australia.

The Government has today launched BoardLinks, a proactive initiative to support more Australian women into leadership positions, including increasing female representation on public and private sector boards.

“We know that women are as equally skilled and educated as their male counterparts,” Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said, “yet they continue to be underrepresented on high-level boards and decision-making bodies.”

“Through the establishment of BoardLinks, the Government is taking concrete action to address gender inequality,” Minister Wong said.

BoardLinks will provide more opportunities for women to be appointed to their first board, to launch and further their directorship careers. It will also facilitate training, mentoring and support.

“One of the most significant hurdles facing women being appointed to boards is a requirement for prior board experience. However this can be self-perpetuating because too few women hold board positions to begin with,” Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, said.

“That’s why BoardLinks’ first focus will be on appointing women to their first government board role, thereby expanding the pool of women who can be appointed to board positions in the corporate sector.”

Currently, just 14.6 per cent of board positions in ASX top 200 companies are held by women.

In 2010, the Government committed to achieving a 40:40:20 gender balance target on Australian Government boards by 2015 and is on track to meeting this target. As of 30 June 2011, women held 35.3 per cent of government board positions.

Business leaders have put their support behind BoardLinks, with five Champions of the network announced at today’s launch – CEO of ASX, Elmer Funke Kupper; Chair of Coca-Cola Amatil and the Future Fund, David Gonski AC; Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly; Telstra Chair, Catherine Livingstone AO; and Chair of Women Leadership Institute of Australia, Carol Schwartz AM.

A number of organisation have also been announced as affiliates of the network – Australian Institute of Company Directors, ASX, Chief Executive Women, Women on Boards and Women Leadership Institute of Australia.

For more information about BoardLinks, please see the attached summary, or contact Evelyn Ek on 0412 887 853.

Government Supporting Women in Leadership
 

 
Joint Media Release With: 
Senator The Hon Penny Wong
Minister For Finance And Deregulation
 
 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Social revolution at work: mums go back to their jobs as reality hits home


Mother of two Jacqui Clark, with her four-month-old son Angus, at her home in West Pymble, Sydney. Jacqui plans on only taking seven months maternity leave. Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: The Australian
 
ALMOST half of all mothers in two-parent families are back at work before their youngest child turns one, completing a social revolution that has seen the dividing line between home and career disappear in less than a generation.

The proportion of stay-at-home mothers with a child aged less than one year old dropped from 57 per cent in 2006 to just 52 per cent at the 2011 census. By contrast, the figure for single mothers edged down from 74.9 per cent to 73 per cent.

Almost all the mothers who went back to work in this period took part-time jobs with fewer than 25 working hours a week.


On present trends, a majority of mothers in couple relationships with a child under one will be in the labour force - either in work or looking for it - by next year. A clear majority is likely to be in work by the time of the next census in 2016.

The exclusive official data, commissioned by The Australian, confirms why childcare is a hot button issue in the community as an increasing number of families compete for places for their babies, who require a greater level of one-to-one attention. Mother of two Jacqui Clark took only seven months maternity leave when her first child, Olivia, was born last year. The 42-year-old gave birth to her second child, Angus, in June and plans to return to work by next February, four months before her son's first birthday.

Ms Clark said that in the mid-1970s her mother waited until both her children had started school before she returned to the workforce.

"There are a number of reasons I chose to go back so quickly, but the first one is probably the mortgage and cost-of-living pressures," Ms Clark said.

"We don't go without things, but at the same time it is also a struggle to make ends meet, with increased electricity prices and for us to get ahead in life we both really need to be working."
Ms Clark said she and husband Bruce, a helicopter pilot - "middle-income earners" - met in their late 30s and it felt like they had been playing catch up since.

"We bought a house three years ago and we want to be able to renovate and do the things to be comfortable, but to do that we both need to be working," she said.

Ms Clark has a background in nursing and works full time for a biotech company, but said she would prefer to work part time and be able to spend more time with her children.

Olivia attends day care facility four times a week and once Ms Clark goes back to work Angus will be next in line. Otherwise, Ms Clark leaves the children with her mother or her husband, who works non-traditional hours.

"Ultimately it all ends up being incredibly expensive," she said. "I think it would be helpful if there were more childcare options; I think putting the pressure on other members of the family is difficult."

The Clarks receive the childcare rebate, but Ms Clark said her family would benefit from government subsidies for in-home carers.

"More and more, childcare spots are harder to find," Ms Clark said. "When I was going back to work the last time, I had to have Olivia's name down at three or four places."

The trend for mothers returning to work has accelerated in line with higher rates of female education and rising property prices.

The bottom lines are: this generation of women have jobs worth going back to and the typical mortgage requires two incomes to service.

The threshold between home and career has changed with each decade of deregulation.
In the mid 1980s, the majority of mothers in two-parent families waited until their youngest child was three before returning to work.

In the mid 1990s, the benchmark had fallen to two years.

At the 2006 census, the majority of mothers were back at work with a youngest child aged one.

This social revolution has left both sides of politics playing catch-up.

The Howard government was forced to switch its handout priorities from stay-at-home to working mothers in the last decade while the Gillard government's budget is stretched across childcare, pre-school and schools in this decade.

A remarkable feature of this shift is the global financial crisis in 2008-09 did not interrupt, let alone reverse, it.

The original tables were supplied along with yesterday's second release of material from the 2011 census.

The breakdown of work and family data shows about two-thirds of mothers with jobs are employed part-time while their children are in preschool.

By age three, though, more than half the working mothers are in full-time work. Sole parents are the exception to this pattern.

Most are still at home when the youngest child is aged 4-5

Source:
George Megalogenis and Sophie Goster
From: The Australian

October 31, 2012 12:00AM

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our Interview with Caltex on their working parent initiatives

By Elysha Stephens


Caltex speak to us about their recent media coverage in the Herald Sun and give us some specific details of what they are doing for their working parents. Being a diverse workplace is very important to the company and they have recognised some of the unique challenges faced by working mums.

What are the initiatives you’ve recently put in place for your working parents?
 
We announced a package of practical and financial initiatives to help primary care givers transition back to work after having a baby. The package includes:
  • 3% quarterly bonus (a total of 12% per year on base salary inclusive of superannuation) to a primary carer once they return to work to help offset costs such as childcare up until the child’s second birthday
  • Up to $1,500 of emergency childcare through the Dial-an-Angel service
  • Specialist assistance to help parents identify appropriate childcare providers
  • Introduction of nursing mothers' facilities at major Caltex workplaces from 2013
What prompted Caltex to take these actions?

Caltex is always looking at ways to provide working arrangements that meet the needs of its employees as well as help the company achieve its goals. We try to provide flexibility and support to our employees wherever they are in life.

Many Caltex employees who have returned to work after caring for a newborn have identified that this transition brings with it a number of financial and emotional challenges. We announced in September a package to help these parents with this transition. This is tailored to meet the needs of employees as well as help support the goals of our business. We want to attract and retain experienced and skilled employees – this is just one way we can support this goal.

What did you already have in place prior to these last initiatives? I think you already had a paid parental leave policy and procedure in place?

Caltex already offered parental leave of up to 12 weeks on full pay or 24 weeks at half pay for the primary carer. We also provide flexible work arrangements to employees and encourage managers to discuss these opportunities with their teams. To support this, throughout 2012 we implemented a program aimed at developing manager confidence in rolling-out and supporting flexible work practices, dealing with ambiguities associated with flexible work and to challenge our managers to be more innovative in this area.

How have you seen it benefit your organisation? Your employees? Or if not felt yet, what do you hope to achieve in implementing these initiatives?

The initial reaction from our employees has been overwhelmingly positive. We are certainly very confident that this package will help support our primary carers transition back to work and that these benefits will be reflected over time. 

We also hope that, by attracting and retaining highly-skilled and experienced employees, this will contribute to the company’s long-term success. We believe in a diverse workplace – this should include women and men from different countries, cultures, ethnicities, generations and all the other unique differences in our backgrounds that make each of us who we are.

Caltex’s business strategy identifies being a highly capable organisation as a key source of competitive advantage, which requires a formidable, diverse talent base. To gain that advantage we intend to deliver an appreciable shift in workforce diversity and make genuine progress in female participation in senior roles. We hope that the Caltex  BabyCare Package will play a significant role to support that progress.

What difference do you hope to make to the working parent community, Australian organisations as a whole? i.e. other organisations hearing your case study and being heralded in the media.

We see this as an important step forward for Caltex as it seeks to be an employer of choice. The reaction from other Australian businesses has certainly been very positive. Other Australian businesses will make their own decisions about how to meet the needs of their employees. In terms of achieving gender diversity in Australian business, the general principle here is that the more flexible workplaces can be for everyone, the more likely women are to have the opportunity to play any role they choose.

Posted by: mums@work, www.mumsatwork.com.au

Sunday, October 21, 2012

‘Business Woman of the Year’ on Work & Family


2012 Winner of the Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year Awards and Founder of Carmans Kitchen, Carolyn Creswell, talks to me about the 20-yr journey with her business and how she stays happy juggling her responsibilities at work and her family, complete with 4 kids!

Carolyn is no short of amazing, with a cheerful disposition as she recalls her journey and speaks of her children and supportive husband who, she says, she is so proud of. So proud, that she took them on stage with her when receiving her award for the Business Woman of the Year Awards.

Carolyn says this about her journey as a working mum:

I’ve certainly delegated more since I’ve had kids. The evolution and growth of the business since then has been great to experience. When I first started my business no one had a computer or email and here we are today. Technology has been quite liberating, being able to communicate with anyone anywhere around the world.

I didn’t take much maternity leave with the first 3 children, but I was actually quite sick after the birth of my fourth child, that I was forced to take the time off and I took 6 months off. My team are amazing. These days, with technology, they would email me and I might be sitting up in bed at night responding and checking in.

How she makes it work:

I think it’s about being more organised, having good time management is the crucial thing, being able to delegate well and documenting how I can get information in my head onto paper. I’ll often email myself ideas and then they’re in my inbox when I’m back at work, to action. I also try to clear my inbox every day and being able to be quick on phone calls. This makes me much more efficient on getting through my goals for the day.

I put in a big effort to make sure our home is organised and tidy, so I can be completely focussed and in the moment.

On her family:

When I came home last night I asked the kids “What do you want to do together?” We ended up doing beauty together, putting special creams and facial masks on our faces. Seeing their little faces light up at the simplest things is so joyous to me.

My husband’s fantastic. He’s a wonderful hands-on dad. We have a very happy home life. Being in the food culture, we often sit around the table and chat. I get invited to a lot of swanky events, but I love my family, I love being at home.

I do quite a bit of public speaking. I like to use the money I earn from public speaking to take my family on trips.
What she does for her employees/her workplace:

Firstly, we’ve put in a mindset that family is first, work is second. We have to create some balance around it. Go and watch your child’s sport day or special assemblies.

I think it’s great that our kids know where their parents work. We often allow the kids to come into the office; we might give them little jobs and reward them with a little spending money. It makes them value and understand what their mums and dads do when they go to work.

Author: Elysha Stephens, Marketing & Communications Consultant

Posted by mums@work: mumsatwork.com.au

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Queen of the cereal aisles earns her crown


SHE may be Australia's muesli queen, but for the owner of Carman's Fine Foods, Carolyn Creswell, starting her food empire was not at all glamorous.
 

"People look at Carman's now and think it's been this overnight success, but it's been 20 years, and a challenging 20 years," the 38-year-old entrepreneur says. "For the first 10 years I was literally trying to sell enough product to survive."
 

Creswell's career as a food manufacturer began at university, when she worked part-time for a small muesli-maker that supplied cafes in Melbourne. When the owners told her she might lose her job because the business was going to be sold, she teamed up with a colleague to buy it, offering $1000 each.
 

The owners originally laughed, but after failing to find another buyer they eventually caved in. Spending the money she had earned as a "checkout chick" at Coles, Creswell was a business owner at 18.
 

"I had more money in my bank account on the day that I started and bought the business than I did definitely for the next five years," the mother of four laughs. "I guess I've always bitten off more than I could chew, and then chew like crazy."
 

The name Carman's combined the business partners' first names, Carolyn and Manya ( van Aken). Two years on, her colleague left in search of a more predictable income and steady working hours.
 

The big breakthrough came in the late 1990s, when Carman's made it onto the supermarket shelves. Having been repeatedly rejected by the two big grocery chains, a local buyer for Coles finally agreed to stock the mueslis at 20 outlets in Melbourne.
 

Creswell remembers unloading her car behind the big Linfox semitrailers to make her deliveries, moving things up on the shelves to put her products at eye level.
 

After six months, Carman's was supplying Coles's Victorian distribution centres, then its NSW centres. Today, it delivers to Coles and Woolworths, which comprise 80 per cent of its annual sales of about $50 million. It has also begun selling to Metcash, which supplies independent supermarkets. Creswell says Carman's exports to more than 30 offshore markets; to chains like Sainsbury's in Britain and Whole Foods Market in the US.
 

Yet there have been "heaps" of setbacks, most notably when one of the big chains deleted Carman's range from its shelves to change the product mix, Creswell says. It came back a year later, but the experience was "devastating, financially and emotionally".
 

Ironically, while many food manufacturers groan about the supermarkets' relentless discounting and promotion of house brands, Creswell says the emergence of private label products was "the best thing that happened to us".
 

The chains began promoting Carman's as a superior product to their house brands, which "for us meant there was less competition, our [retail] price was reduced, we were put on eye level and we were their premium offer".
 

The company employs about 20 staff in its head office. Its products are made by third-party manufacturers. Muesli bars and biscuits have become the main growth driver, comprising more than half of sales.
 

Does Creswell ever think of cashing in and selling the business to one of the food giants? She has had approaches, she admits, but "I can still see how many new things we can do". She has ambitious plans: doubling sales in three years; boosting the brand's profile; launching new products and expanding beyond mueslis and snacks; "going into different aisles", perhaps even bakery.
 

The right balance

WITH four children under eight, work-life balance is a passion for Carolyn Creswell. While her husband retired to look after the kids, she keeps a tight structure around career and family, working four days a week and refusing to answer emails or work calls at nights and on weekends. Her main strategies:
 

Don't mix work and family. "When I come to work I'm focused, I know what I want to achieve for the day, and I'm making sure I'm on top of my work here. ... And then when I go home it's absolutely about being in the moment there. I love doing homework with the kids."
 

Find time for yourself. "On my day off I have that as a day where I do whatever things that interest me. I might go and look at a gallery, or I'm reading a book for my book group. I organise my week, and for me that means that I get to do all the things that I like doing: on Monday nights I play tennis with a girlfriend after the kids have gone to bed."
 

Challenge public perceptions. "I know people would say about me, 'you're not a good mother because you work', but you would never say that if I was a guy. There's this whole thing that you can't be a good mother and work, and I challenge them constantly."

Source:
Miriam Steffens
From: The Sydney Morning Herald

July 30, 2012

Posted by: mums@work, www.mumsatwork.com.au

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tips to make a busy schedule work: from Ezypay's Director of Marketing & Sales




This month, Celeste Kirby Brown, Director of Sales, Marketing & Relationships at Ezypay provides tips on how she and her husband Trent Brown (Ezypay’s CEO) juggle their family and their work. It’s not always easy being a working parent especially when both parents work together in senior positions in the same organisation; so how does this dynamic couple manage it? Read on...

This proud couple are Mum and Dad to Aisha (nearly 4) and August (nearly 2). Together, they work at Ezypay, which is a direct debit company that helps businesses in Australia and New Zealand collect ongoing payments from customers.  
 
Celeste says:

“The hardest transition for me was going on maternity leave in the beginning.  Being a Mum is so overwhelming, new, stressful, joyous, sleep deprived and unknown experience.  I wanted to be with my baby desperately but I was also yearning to go back to the semi controlled day to day of work where I was experienced and kind of knew what to expect”.

“I was really lucky I was able to come back 2 days a week, then 3 days a week and then I built it up to 4.  Our work place is very flexible and we try and take individual needs into account.”

Here are some of the things that Trent and I do that work for us:
  • Plan dinners and food for the week.  Write a list and shop once a week.
  • Both our kids go to family day care so we need to pack their lunches.  We do as much of this as possible on Sunday night.
  • I cook big meals and use leftovers through the week
  • I also try and cook at least one meal for the week on the weekend
  • We get the kids clothes out the night before so we can get them dressed quickly in the morning
  • Trent takes them to care and I pick them up so I try and get to work early and he stays back a bit later.
  • I go to bed early cause I generally get a 5am – 6am wake up call.
  • We both try and have a sleep in or nanna nap on the weekend
  • I pay bills on my iPhone when they arrive from the letter box
  • I have a cleaner once a week
  • I plan Mum and Dad time once a fortnight
  • I have found other Mums around my area and swap babysitting favours
  • I have also found a teenager across the street who is lovely and I ask to babysit too
  • We try and do a nice family thing at least once a week
  • When we get home I generally start dinner and when Trent gets home later he gives the kids a bath.
  • We sit down as a family and have dinner together between 6.30pm – 7pm most nights.
We enjoy it, are very busy and we wouldn't have it any other way.
 
Celeste

 

Caltex Australia offers cash bonuses and childcare assistance to lure new parents back to work


NEW parents are being lured back to work with cash bonuses and generous childcare assistance initiatives aimed at retaining staff.

From next month, oil company Caltex Australia will offer a package that includes quarterly bonuses of 3 per cent, and up to $1500 of emergency childcare.

The move comes as businesses look at ways to stop the drain of talent after childbirth, including flexible hours, paying for childcare and building onsite childcare centres.

The Caltex BabyCare initiative aims to help with costs such as childcare, with the bonus paid until the child's second birthday.

For an employee earning $75,000 a year, this would mean $9000 before tax, inclusive of superannuation.

The company also will set up breastfeeding rooms and help find childcare providers.
"Returning to work after caring full-time for a newborn baby can be a challenging time, both emotionally and financially."
Caltex chairwoman Elizabeth Bryan said the package, to be launched today in Sydney, would be paid in addition to its paid parental leave.

"Returning to work after caring full-time for a newborn baby can be a challenging time, both emotionally and financially," Ms Bryan said.

"The package provides these employees with both the practical support and flexibility."

She said modelling had found only a small number would need to return to work to make the program worthwhile.

Shine Lawyers pays up to 20 per cent more of an employee's salary in childcare/domestic costs on return to work, and 18 weeks' maternity leave.

Insurance Australia Group offers 20 weeks' parental leave at full pay - 14 weeks, then a six-week "welcome back payment".

Helen Conway, director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, said the incentives would pay dividends for organisations.

"Organisations that do this will benefit from greater access to talent, increased morale, and the retention of talented staff all of which contribute to better organisational performance," she said.

Source:
Elissa Doherty
From: Herald Sun
September 26, 2012

Posted by: mums@work, www.mumsatwork.com.au

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy Fathers Day

Australian dads have something extra to look forward to this Fathers’ Day, with just one month to go before first claims for Dad and Partner Pay can be lodged.
 
Applications open on 1 October for the Australian Government’s new support for new dads.
 
Dads and partners, including same-sex couples, will receive two weeks’ pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage (about $606 per week before tax) from 1 January next year, giving them extra support when their new baby arrives.
 
The Government’s scheme will help dads or partners take time more off in those critical early weeks to bond with their baby and support mums right from the start.
 
Dad and Partner Pay will give workers who are self-employed, contractors and casual and who don’t have paid parental leave entitlements, the financial security to stay at home with mum and baby.
 
To be eligible, dads or partners must:
  • be on unpaid leave or not working and be helping to care for the child during the two weeks;

  • have worked at least 330 hours (just over one day a week) in 10 of the 13 months before the start of their Dad and Partner Pay period, with no more than an eight-week gap between two consecutive working days; and

  • have earned $150,000 or less in the previous financial year.

Dad and Partner Pay builds on Labor’s successful Paid Parental Leave scheme that has been supporting Australian mums since January 2011.
 
Australian mums love our Paid Parental Leave Scheme - more than 206,000 parents have applied since it began.
 
Dads or partners can lodge their claims for Dad and Partner Pay up to three months before the expected date of birth or adoption, to prepare for the arrival of the new addition to their family.
 
 
Source:
Joint Media Release With: 
Jenny Macklin MP
Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Minister for Disability Reform
 
 

Equal Pay Day – Gillard Government working to close gender pay gap

 
This year, 2 September is not just a celebration of the role fathers and partners play in our lives – it is also Equal Pay Day.
 
The date of Equal Pay Day is calculated on the average number of extra days a woman would have to work until she earns the same amount as men do in a financial year.
 
The Minister for Community Services and the Status of Women, Julie Collins, said Equal Pay Day reminds us all of the seriousness and persistence of gender pay inequity, which currently sits at 17.5 per cent in Australia.
 
“Equal Pay Day is a reminder that on average Australian women will work an extra 64 days to earn what a man would in a year.
“The Gillard Government is committed to closing this gender pay gap.
 
“Equality is at the heart of the Australian Government’s commitment to building a strong economy on the back of a fair and just society.
 
“That’s why we supported the Fair Work Australia case that is delivering from 1 December substantial pay rises of between 23 and 45 per cent to 150,000 of Australia’s lowest paid workers - significantly around 120,000 of these workers are women.
 
“It was this Labor Government who allowed the case to be brought to the independent umpire through our introduction of the Fair Work Act and we are committed to meeting our share of the costs associated with the historic decision.
 
“That’s a commitment of around $3 billion - and this Labor Government will continue to support this increase at every step of the way as it is phased in.
 
“We have also introduced major reforms on equal opportunity in the workplace, which set out a contemporary response to the challenges women face today.
 
“These reforms in the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 focus on equal pay - recognising that closing the gender pay gap is central to achieving equality.

“The Government is looking forward to the passage of the legislation through the Senate as soon as possible, ensuring genuine and sustained progress towards gender equality,” Ms Collins said.
 
“The new Act also highlights shared caring responsibilities as an issue central to the achievement of gender equality.

“Research shows that men want to help more with caring responsibilities, particularly with children, but are limited by barriers including “family bread-winner” responsibilities, and inflexible workplaces.
“The Australian Government recognises that more equal sharing of paid work and care enables greater workforce participation for women, improving women’s capacity to provide for themselves and their families and to save for a financially secure retirement.
“It means also that men can spend more time with their children and celebrate being a father every day.
 
“The Australian Government has introduced a number of practical supports and initiatives to support women and men balance paid work and caring and to make progress towards gender equality.
“The introduction of the historic Paid Parental Leave Scheme gives eligible working parents up to 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave at the rate of the national minimum wage, currently around $606 a week or $10,917 for 18 weeks before tax.
 
“From 1 January 2013, Dad and Partner Pay will give eligible fathers and partners two weeks’ pay at the rate of the national minimum wage.
 
“A dedicated payment for fathers and partners will encourage their involvement and send a strong signal that taking leave to care for children is part of the normal course of work and family life for both parents.
 
“We have strengthened protections against discrimination by amending the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to make it unlawful to discriminate on the ground of family responsibilities for both women and men.
 
“Women and men also need opportunities to make genuine choices about their participation in the economy, community and at home.”
 
 
Source: Department of Families, Housing,
Community Services and Indigenous Affairs: http://www.juliecollins.fahcsia.gov.au/node/233
Posted by mums@work: www.mumsatwork.com.au

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Living on top of the World: one woman has it all



Krithika Hansen is the Learning and Development Manager for Pitcher Partners, and...you guessed it! A working mum! She has been kind enough to share her story with us. She tells us about her working life before and after kids and how she manages that infamous work/life balance. Enjoy!

Prior to having kids, I worked at DeakinPrime as a Programs Director within the former Coles Myer Institute. Currently, my role is the Learning and Development Manager at Pitcher Partners.

As the Programs Director, my role involved working with the GM’s and HR Managers of various divisions to consult, design and develop a range of people development initiatives ranging from Coaching Programs to Talent Development Programs.  Prior to having children, I worked full time and didn’t think twice about working longer hours or having meetings after 5pm to get a project completed. I had a very clear career path that I wanted to pursue and was very happy to put in the extra effort to achieve my goals.  I loved what I was doing and it was in this role that I felt my real passion for Learning and Development/Organisational Development start to flourish and bloom.

In my current role as Learning and Development Manager, I am involved in a wide variety of projects that have a strong strategic link to the overall people development framework.  I work 4 days a week and I have to be disciplined with my time to make sure I get my work done ideally within the 4 days.  Many would argue that working 4 days is like working full time and I would say that I do take on a number of projects that keep me challenged and busy and could very easily fill in 5 days and more.  The way that I manage it is by looking at timelines and having conversations with my stakeholders to determine how the project will run and what resources are available to help get the work completed.  This process not only allows me to be involved both at a strategic and operational level but also provide opportunities for growth and stretch for members within the Learning and Development team.  There are the occasional times when I do have to work longer hours or take work home, but I find overall the balance is really good and it’s a matter of me being realistic with what I can achieve considering there is a family involved.

When I was looking for a change, I was clear that I wanted to work part time in a role that provided challenge and opportunity and one where I could add value with my experiences and background.  I knew I couldn’t commit to more than 4 days and shared this up front with all the people I spoke to as part of my job search.  I was pleased to hear how supportive everyone was and felt that it was a realistic request to make to my future employer.  Pitcher Partners has been a very supportive of me as a working mother. 
How do you successfully juggle a successful career and family life? How do you make it work?

I have 3 children – Noah 5, Toby 3, and Maya 2.  It’s crazy in my house as you can imagine.  My husband has a very full job that requires him to travel and work long hours.  With no family support in Australia, I have learned to ask for help.  We have a nanny who helps us out 2 days a week and my husband and I arrange our schedules so we can do drop offs and pickups at school and day-care the other days.  I am lucky to have a lovely group of friends who are there to help if we ever need it and treat us like we are part of their extended family. 
We have a planning session as a family every Sunday morning over breakfast and talk through what’s coming up for the week and how we will manage it.  The kids are fantastic at throwing in their suggestions (realistic or not) as they understand that it’s just the 5 of us and we have to work together to get the tasks done.  We can’t always have dinner as a family every night so in our house, we have breakfast every morning.  It requires us to get up earlier so we can have this time together, but the effort is so worthwhile as we start each day together.
Even though both my husband and I have busy jobs and interested in growing our careers, we make sure we have time for each other by having a monthly date night and protect our weekends to make sure we are able to spend time with our kids and doing what they are interested in doing rather than filling it with various activities.
I still have my overall career goals from my pre-children days that I am pursuing. The difference is the pace in which I’m pursuing my goals. I have had to learn to accept that I can’t work the long hours and still be able to be there for my husband and children. I have had to make peace with the fact that it will be a slower journey and once my kids are at school then I can re-evaluate where I’m at.


Krithika Hansen
Learning and Development Manager
Pitcher Partners

Published by mums@work

 

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Balance it All: A Guide for Working Mums



Have you come across the burden of balancing it all as a working mom? I am referring to the burden and guilt trip we give ourselves each day over our attempt and quite often failure to balance all aspects (working mom, caretaker, professional, student, friend etc.) of our lives.  I call it the Balance Burden and, truly, I spent my first year- and- a -half of motherhood often riddled with guilt because I couldn’t seem to juggle it all.

It wasn’t until the birth of my second daughter (18 months after my first) that I finally threw my hands up and admitted defeat.  With the slow realization and acceptance that balance was unattainable came a sudden relief, and the mommy baggage was quickly lifted off my five- foot, two- inch frame. 

In the days (specifically 20 months) since becoming a mom of two amazing, extremely energetic, and willful little girls, I have learned a few things about the best approaches for me to manage my multiple roles. I learned most of these lessons come the hard way. Read, coming home from work stressed about an undone project, only to be a bit cranky and short-tempered with my family followed by a sleepless night feeling downright crummy for not being a better worker, spouse, and namely mom.

But since then I’ve tried and erred and discovered that these five tips which work for me:

 

Create a priorities list and re-evaluate it monthly


Take stock of what you value and write it down. Make choices on how you spend your time based on that priorities list.  This list can change as your work goals change, seasons pass (take it from a Californian living in the Midwest, summer outdoor adventures are a must) and kids’ extracurricular activities and hobbies change.

Take charge of your schedule


I, for one, have been notoriously terrible at saying no. Just ask the professional association that asked me to be a board member and waited for weeks for my reply. I am learning, slowly, the art, beauty, and necessity in saying no.  Decline requests that don’t fit into your priorities list. Say no kindly but firmly and embrace the freedom of having something off of your plate.

Give your kids uninterrupted time


When I initially went back to full-time work after working part-time for two years, I would walk in the door at the end of the work day and be greeted with a cluster of hellos, cries, questions, “mommy, I need” etc. I tried to manage it all by tending to my girls’ needs while inquiring about my husband’s day, and making dinner all at the same time. How did that work? Terribly. Usually one of the girls threw a tantrum and I felt more stressed than ever. Now, when I come home, I stop and sit with both daughters for 30 minutes playing, reading, dancing, doing whatever they choose. After this time devoted to them, I then think about dinner, pick up toys, or chat with my husband.

Give yourself me time


Ok. So I am no pro at this. I write it because I know that when I make time for myself I feel like a better mom. I’m kinder, more patient, in general, I feel like me. I just don’t put it into practice nearly as much as I should. One piece of advice I received not too long ago was to put it on the calendar. If my Outlook calendar says yoga, well then, I am more likely to pull out my mat and work on my yoga warrior pose.

Stop comparing


This is one that is really deeper than the work/life balance issue. Really, it is about embracing and accepting who we are as women, mothers, and professionals. Unfortunately, girls are taught at a young age to compare themselves to the females around them, from the classmate with the better math test grade to the supermodel on the cover of the tween magazines. This self-comparison carries itself into motherhood and we are constantly contrasting our mothering skills with those of the stay-at-home mom down the street, or the VP who seems to have it all. Stop it.  Embrace yourself in all your glories and flaws. Your kids, your spouse, your boss only want you and no one different.

What balancing tips do you have for working moms?



Source: Workawesome: www.workawesome.com

Posted by mums@work: www.mumsatwork.com.au

Photo by monkeybusiness.