Juliet Turnbull, Founder & CEO
Mapping out the future
I knew in my teenage years that I wanted to be a successful businesswoman. I’d seen them on the glossy pages of Vogue and I wanted to be a part of it. But I knew I wanted a family too. What I didn’t know back then was how difficult combining both was going to be!
I began my career as a Chartered Surveyor, something I excelled at but in truth didn’t really enjoy. It was a male-dominated profession rife with presenteeism – my male colleagues would regularly leave their jackets on the back of their chairs and head off to the pub. It was tough going but it taught me the importance of working hard and fighting for what’s right. Even though I was promoted to a senior position and earned good money I knew there had to be more to life than just trudging in each day to sit at my desk and do my job. As is often the case, it was a forced change that made me see the light.
A cancer diagnosis and the surgery that followed meant I had to take things a little easier. Working from home one day a week was enlightening – I could get so much more done without the stressful commute and office politics to worry about. I started my own retail property consultancy to stand out and make my mark in the industry while proving I could work on my own terms.
Running my own business was great but I still wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. I needed a deeper sense of purpose. One day I went to see a business coach to talk it out and decided there and then that I wanted to become a coach myself. So I did. Over the next ten years I learned a huge amount – not just about business but about human behaviour and what makes us tick. I learned that one of the keys to a successful business is to balance commercial imperatives with people’s emotional needs.
By this time, I was married with two young children and struggling like so many others to find the right balance in my own life between work and family. I wanted to have both – to be great at business and a great mother – so I just kept taking things on. But the pressure kept piling up until eventually I just burned out.
Falling and getting back up
Having reached an all-time low, I got a dog so I could walk and find myself. It was during those walks with our cocker spaniel on Tooting Common that the seed that had been planted long ago began to grow.
What did mothers like me really mean when we said we wanted to ‘have both’? The answer came to me: we all wanted to work flexibly so that we could progress our careers and also be actively present for our children at home. We wanted a combination of job and personal fulfilment. I realised there were thousands of mothers out there who wanted to work part time but were having trouble finding their way back into the jobs market.
I talked to companies and did some research, and made another crucial discovery: the traditional recruitment market wasn’t geared to finding part-time talent. SMEs were good at it but large employers and recruitment agencies – even though they talked a good game about the benefits of flexible working and diversity – were slow to adapt their hiring practices. They knew they were missing out on a huge hidden talent pool – one of the most highly educated, skilled and productive sectors of the economy – but there was no single place they could go to find them.
This was my light bulb moment. I resolved to build the UK’s first online platform dedicated exclusively to matching and connecting highly qualified mothers with employers looking for that capability on a part time flexible basis. And what better name to give it than 2to3days?
The future is now
Flexible working can power the growth of our companies and our families; our economy and our society. Today we have over 28,000 members in our community (the 2to3days ‘hood’) and are growing rapidly. We are challenging the status quo and I believe with every bone in my body that we are doing the right thing.
Our role is to unearth progressive companies across the UK, from FTSE 100 giants through to buzzing start-ups, and connect them to highly capable mothers who are determined to continue their careers whilst raising their children. We’re building an amazing movement which is powered by like minds, coming together to be part of something which is bigger than any one of us: changing our working landscape for good. I’m proud that 2to3days is at the forefront of this change, and privileged to be working with so many amazing people. How quickly we build this new future is entirely in our hands.