Rowena is Head of Architecture Operations & Development at Nationwide. Here she shares her thoughts on the value of mentoring, and her top five tips for women considering STEM careers. Rowena joined the Society 31 years ago as part of the graduate scheme, working in Retail and Direct Sales, before joining IT as a retail expert in 1994. More recently, she set up the Programme Architecture team at Nationwide, also known as Solution Architecture. What makes a good female mentor? At University, Rowena studied Geography, which she describes as the ideal blend of logic and creativity - much like her current role which combines logical thinking and innovation with a love of people leadership. Mentoring allows Rowena to ask the questions others, including the colleague’s line manager, may find hard. In doing so, she believes it can help force the individual to get to the real route of an issue. “I’ve been told I have an ability to see patterns in what they’ve done before, which can help them forge a new perspective. It’s about combining the logical with emotional.” Since joining Nationwide, Rowena has mentored many women, a total of 10 in the last few years. This is usually as they consider the transition from a senior role to a leadership role. Mentees are either 'matched' to her via recommendations from others across the business, or via HR if they’re believed to be a good match: “I enjoy mentoring because I’m fascinated by people, their journey and their aspirations, and also because I think it’s important to give back - lots of people were instrumental in helping me to learn about myself and the organisation.” “I worked in Rowena’s team for 18 months and observed first-hand how she successfully led in a male-dominated area. I knew I could learn a lot from her, so I approached her to be my mentor.” Mei, Senior Enterprise Architect “Rowena has a fantastic ability to listen, ask astute questions and provide thought-provoking insight, whilst at the same time leaving you feeling the accountability and ownership for your own development. She is first-rate at coaching and has helped to draw things out of me that I hadn’t considered previously.” Claire, Head of Sales and Service Simplification Her background also allows her to see things others couldn’t in this space: “Having been on the journey myself I can help individuals make the jump,” She explains. “There can sometimes be a tendency for females to think they’re not quite good enough, or we’ll have a lack of self-belief. Sometimes the women I mentor will even ‘catastrophise’ their minor failures.” “I found Rowena’s help invaluable when I returned from Mat Leave after my 2nd baby. I only took a 4-month maternity leave, and the number of comments I had about only choosing to take “5 minutes off” made me feel like I couldn’t tell people that I was actually finding balancing the lack of sleep from a baby who fed 3 times a night with work pretty tough.” Lara, Head of Treasury Modelling Considering a STEM career? Here's Rowena’s advice: 1. Be more open-minded and curious. Behind the big banners, e.g: ‘financial services’, there’s actually an enormous variety of creative and logical IT careers that aren’t ‘geeky’. 2. If you’re unsure what to do after school or University, follow your passion. Looking back I wouldn’t change my degree to do a typically ‘STEM’ degree. You can still secure a STEM career even without being certain you’ll end up there. Geography was good as it was a broad mix of analysis, creativity and logic.” 3. Good qualifications can open up a world of opportunities. Hiring managers shouldn’t only look for typical STEM careers. What’s important is the high-end logic that can be transferred into a role. 4. Take time to understand what it is you’re looking for in a career. I now know what the key attributes a role needs to offer to be right for me; I need to feel part of a team to share collaborative energy. There have been points during my career where I felt ‘I must be rubbish’ but that was before I learned that I wasn’t going to be good at every role, and some may not be a great fit for me. 5. Take some risks. Sometimes it can be healthy to step into a job where you don’t know it all, as it could lead to some of your biggest learnings: don’t be afraid of failure. “Since I have been seeing Rowena, I have really changed my approach. Rather than plan to do something in 5 years’ time, Rowena has helped me to understand that there is nothing stopping me from achieving those goals today – except my own limiting beliefs.” Lisa, Operational Performance Lead
Grant Thornton Select is a new way for ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualified accountants to work on stimulating projects on an interim or project basis whilst benefitting from the training, development and support of one of the UK’s top accountancy firms. With the help of 2to3days, the firm has recently launched the scheme to attract a large team of working mothers and others wishing to work on short to medium-term client projects whilst leaving time for family, school holidays or other commitments between assignments. The idea is the brainchild of Grant Thornton Director Emma Davies who leads this new network of interim accountants from the organisation’s Sheffield office. 2to3days’ Julie Kangisser caught up with her to find out more. How did the idea for Grant Thornton Select arise? Over the past six years, I’ve led a Special Projects team, sending our Grant Thornton team members into fascinating interim or project roles with clients. I’ve done these sorts of immersive stints in the past myself for a number of companies including General Electric and a fast-growth business looking to restructure its in-house finance team. These briefs always arise out of change, transition or growth. In today’s rapidly changing business world we are increasingly asked to provide interim support. But Grant Thornton does not have enough people in the Special Projects core team to proactively seek out this work and that’s where Grant Thornton Select comes in. I’m proud that we’re the first professional services firm in the UK to develop this innovative and flexible model. I’m passionate that mothers should have the same opportunities to do stimulating work as everybody else. As a working mother myself, I understand that on-off working holds huge appeal for many ambitious mothers looking to have both a fast-paced career and plenty of quality time with their children. The Grant Thornton Select scheme has been widely supported throughout the firm. Grant Thornton’s culture is set from the top by our inspirational CEO Sacha Romanovitch, herself a working mother of two, who is pioneering an inclusive and diverse workplace culture in a sector that is often regarded as behind the curve in this regard. This is reflected in our inclusion in the National Association for Female Executives’ Top Companies for Executive Women for four years running and in Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies for eleven consecutive years. The market is responding really positively to the lead we are taking. Tell us your own tips for flexible working in a fast-paced professional services firm? I fit work around my life and not the other way round. Many mothers think they have to pretend that they don’t have a family but I say “be yourself and bring your whole self to work”. I have to be very organised and also accept that I can’t do everything exactly as I did before having my son - but there are usually great alternatives. Gone are the days of networking drinks in the evening, but now I meet people for breakfast or over lunch and get the same if not better outcomes. I used to struggle to say no to anything but now I find that if you set reasonable boundaries people respect you for it. I’m also better at delegating than I used to be! Are there limits to the types of flexibility that can be accommodated? Meeting our clients’ business needs is paramount so it’s a case of what works well for them. Although any arrangement could be possible, I think that most of our clients would be comfortable with contractors working 4-day weeks and taking time off during school holidays as part of their annual leave plans. Short to medium term projects can allow our Select team members to earn good money for part of the year and then take several months off to pursue other priorities or take extended summer holidays, for example. Working school hours only is likely to be unfeasible for many clients, although many are flexible with start and finish times. Although I usually work more out of Grant Thornton’s offices rather than client-side on a day-to-day basis, a red line that I won’t cross is being able to drop off my son at school every morning and collect him from after-school club at 5.45. This pattern fits largely into a standard working day and, if needed, I am happy to pick up a few additional tasks in the evening. What makes a brilliant contract finance professional? Someone who thrives on variety and challenge and who is a self-starter. Whether acting alone or within a small Grant Thornton Select team, our interims need to rapidly understand their client’s business and operating environment and how to get to an end goal quickly. Of course, they are doing this with all the support of Grant Thornton behind them. One of our newest Select members was struggling to fit a full-time Finance Director role around her family life but she is delighted to work intensely for several months and then take time off. Other members have taken career breaks to raise children and this is an ideal way for them to return to work and have the best of both worlds. What are the best things about hiring working mothers? It may surprise you, but one of the top assets working mothers bring is their good life perspective and their ability to recognise that there is more to life than work. I know from my own set-up that we need to be super-organised which means we naturally prioritise well and don’t waste time on unnecessary or inefficient work. What support will I receive as a member of Grant Thornton Select? We have done lots of research into the challenges of being a totally independent contractor and the top concerns were loneliness, the difficulty of finding work and the lack of career development support. That’s why community is at the core of Grant Thornton Select. Our interims and core staff team are encouraged to connect and share with each other, much as you do in the 2to3days community. We’re working on an internal social network to facilitate this knowledge transfer. Our interims will have access, at no cost, to a vast array of our CPD courses and soft-skills training as well as weekly check-ins with a colleague at Grant Thornton whilst out on assignment. We’re also organising monthly social events such as drinks or lunches to eliminate the isolation factor of contracting. The support we offer to all our staff, including the Select team, fits into our wider company purpose of shaping a vibrant economy by connecting people so that people and places can thrive. Have you met any resistance to the idea from clients? Quite the reverse. So long as they are getting the right person, clients don’t get hung up on whether that person has other facets to their life outside of work. It actually makes them more ‘normal’ and appealing as a colleague. They also know that they are getting more experienced people than they might otherwise attract directly. To embark on interim work, most of the Grant Thornton Select team have amassed years of experience and a degree of financial security. In addition, clients know that all Grant Thornton Select staff have been through a rigorous application process and benefit from ongoing support and quality control from Grant Thornton.
Have you recently returned to work, or are you planning to soon? Does the prospect of continuing in the same career you had before the kids came along fill you with joy or trepidation? Whilst many mothers relish the chance to jump back onto the same career track, perhaps you’re considering your options. What do you do if your old career isn’t entirely compatible with family commitments – such as hours that don’t work around childcare? Or, if you’ve been out of the market for a while perhaps the business or technological landscape makes the prospect of returning to your old profession either daunting or unappealing. Necessity is the mother of reinvention Working out what to do next can feel tricky. To help you Corinne Mills, a highly experienced career coach, has put together five ways to navigate this and get the right career for you. What needs to change? It was Einstein who supposedly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It's important to think carefully about what you want to be different in the future, otherwise, there is a danger that you could replicate your situation. Make a list of your priorities, including practical considerations, such as pay and commute time, the type of work you want to focus on and the environment. Which are non-negotiable and which could you compromise on? Have this list to hand as you look at jobs. Think about whether a complete career change is needed. Sometimes this process can remind you of the things you like about your current job, so it may be worth exploring whether you can improve things where you are, rather than moving on. Take a wide view of your options There are always more options available to you than you think. Ask people you know for their ideas about what they think could be a good fit for you. Look at different job profiles on the National Careers Service website, consult a career coach and browse LinkedIn to find people who work in the types of roles you are interested in, and see how they describe their job, and the career path they took to get there. When it comes to searching for jobs keep your search options broad – on 2to3days.com you can select up to 10 industry sectors and 5 departments to ensure you’re not missing out on the perfect role. Close the skills gaps Be realistic about the gaps that separate you from those who are already working in the roles you are interested in, and close as many of them as you can by acquiring the relevant skills, knowledge and any qualifications you need. Think about whether a lateral move within your organisation or voluntary work experience could also take you closer to where you want to be. It's also worth considering temporary work as another route into organisations you are interested in. Professional associations are also helpful for those who are new to the field. Many offer training, speaker events and publications to keep you up to date with industry issues and encourage networking. Focus on your transferable skills A functional CV format, where you use the first page to highlight relevant skills and experience drawn from your entire career history, tends to work better for career changers as they enable you to focus on your transferable skills. This is useful for any prospective employers that are wary about career changers. Luckily, employers on 2to3days are open to all sorts of career paths, that’s why they’re drawn to the site. Avoid getting into lengthy personal justifications for your career change as these often raise more questions for the employer than they answer. Instead, position your career to date as one of natural progression as you discovered more about the things you were good at and enjoyed. Stand out from the crowd Typically, jobs advertised on 2to3days.com attract on average 12 applications but it can be as high as 50+, including some who may be a more obvious fit for the job than you. Stand out from the crowd by demonstrating that you are up to speed with the challenges and trends in the sector; how technology, impending regulation or even Brexit might impact on the role. Craft an original and enticing approach to a recruiter to avoid being put in the rejects pile with the other proforma cover letters. Whatever you do, don’t hold back from applying for jobs – you’ve got to be in it to win it. Worst case, the application and interview process will help you to refine your job search strategy. Best of luck. See what jobs are available on 2to3days now! Corinne Mills is Managing Director of Personal Career Management.
2018 has started with a flurry of new and returning recruiters joining us on our mission to help businesses thrive and to help working mothers fulfil their potential. Whilst companies busily swing into hiring mode there’s also a new year peak in candidates looking into career moves. Both of these trends can be bad news for business – there’s more competition out there for the best candidates and sifting high-calibre recruits from the mediocre masses is an excruciating task. The reason why 2to3days is here and thriving is that we have designed a new model which knocks many of these problems on the head by giving companies privileged access to a niche talent pool of skilled and professional jobseekers. Our thousands of talented working mothers looking for part-time work may be overlooked by traditional recruitment agencies or could have been dismissed as too hard to reach by hiring managers – that is until we arrived on the scene! In the two years since we set up we’ve found kindred spirits amongst hundreds of forward-thinking companies who are stealing a march on competitors by hiring experienced working mothers on reciprocally flexible terms. Together with Nationwide, Grant Thornton, Diageo and Hudson as well as the hundreds of smaller entrepreneurial companies like Mum & You and Black Sun, we are traversing the foothills of a radical recruitment revolution. 2to3days cares deeply about both businesses and the mothers in our community. Our economy, society and the next generation of impressionable minds are impoverished by the difficulty businesses have in connecting with, and filling roles from, our untapped demographic. We are a can-do community that detests those that whinge about the status quo. Our win-win model has been lovingly fashioned to help businesses better reflect real life through how and who they hire. Having a ready pool of candidates who aren’t tied to standard job patterns helps firms allocate the right skill and time required to do a job rather than trying to fit all roles into 5 day packages! Time and again businesses tell me four key reasons why the 2to3days service is needed more than ever. Meeting these business needs is why our community of businesses and mothers and the number of roles filled is growing at breathtaking speed: You want quality applicants not quantity. We have built a growing, niche community of 25,000 talented and experienced candidates so that typically our employers receive around 12 relevant applications from top notch people and usually tell us they’d be happy to hire several or all of them! A third of our community has Master’s degrees and over 4 in 5 have managerial experience. So you can say adios to ‘post and pray’ jobs boards that serve up quantity over quality. You worry that recruitment agencies’ commercial interests are not in line with your own. We don’t take a cut on your recruit’s salary which is why we have no vested interest in encouraging you to hire someone who’s less than perfect. The standard agency model has incentivised the placement of standard-fit applicants and withheld a wide pool of talent looking to break the five day mould (who also earn agents less commission). With us, you make the choice without being swamped with unsuitable candidates. You need to be cost-conscious. We never seek to make a fast buck but we’re also unapologetically commercial. So what’s our trick? We believe it takes a community to fill a role well and that’s where the magic of the ‘motherhood’ comes to the fore. This is truly novel when you consider that recruitment for key roles can be marred with secrecy. The motherhood is the digital, community-powered reinvention of the closed old boys’ network. Our community of mothers are bound by shared goals which leads them to proactively signpost colleagues and friends to jobs if they’re not right for themselves. Tapping into this immense goodwill and openness makes us effective and supremely cost-efficient. Approximately 70% of employers who advertise on our site hire one of our mothers and reaching our community costs only £300. You need a more diverse staff pool. If your business doesn’t reflect real life you’re less likely to understand and appeal to customers, prospective employees, clients, partners and other stakeholders. Harvard Business Review, amongst others, has published research to show that increased diversity within your business adds to your bottom line. The firms we work with are at the vanguard in overhauling Monday to Friday rigidity and presenteeism. Consciously stacking the odds against hiring someone who doesn’t fit the standard mould in today’s world is a hugely wasted opportunity, preventing employers from attracting highly capable, experienced working mothers. We don’t underestimate how tough it is to overcome over a century of ingrained work culture. Trusting staff to do a great job when they are working flexible hours, in evenings or from home requires an openness to doing business differently. However this trust delivers better results and committed colleagues. Almost every business leader seeks to manage outputs rather than inputs which is why they are joining our community in droves to enable them to fill bespoke roles or hire a portfolio of part-time specialists to meet their business needs with precision. The idea has been around for a while but they needed 2to3days to enable it. Trusting staff delivers better results. Tapping into an open and thoughtful community who will spread your job opportunities delivers better results. Adding diversity to your staff delivers better results. Families and society are better off too. Our community of employers and mothers will develop an increasingly loud voice which will make 2018 a game-changing year for recruiters. To learn more about advertising with us, click here.
Black Sun is a consultancy that delivers inspiring communications that reach, engage and influence stakeholders including investors, employees, customers and communities. Based in Fulham with an office in Singapore and a global client base, they want to hire three mothers from the 2to3days community to join their team across both locations. CEO, David Christopherson and 2to3days’ founder Juliet Turnbull had a meeting of minds whilst discussing why firms looking to achieve long term, sustainable value need to have a truly diverse and inclusive workforce. David Christopherson, CEO, Black Sun PLC I am a great fan of what 2to3days is doing and I am delighted to be working with them. Why is the work that Black Sun does so vital in today’s climate? The world today is faced with complex, systems-wide challenges - whether this be climate change or the fact that the world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population. Disenfranchisement is off the ‘Richter scale’ and lack of trust both politically and within large organisations is rampant. With the advancement of technology, people like you and me now have the ability to call politicians and CEOs to account. Change is happening and it is happening fast. Organisations have a wonderful opportunity to play a significant and meaningful role in solving these problems whilst also generating value for investors. Business is moving beyond an outdated, singular focus on shareholder value to create meaningful, long term, sustainable value to all of their stakeholders including employees, clients, local and global communities. By 2020, half of the workforce will comprise the millennial generation who are driven by a higher purpose and don’t want to work (or buy from) companies that are solely driven by making money. Businesses need to reflect the way people want to work and live their lives. Why is hiring brilliant mothers to join Black Sun an integral part of your vision? I am incredibly proud of our team. We employ around 90 people from over 20 nationalities, and gender balance runs throughout our entire company. We recruit people who share our purpose, our values and our attitude towards looking after our clients. I get very frustrated when I see talented women have their careers cut short because they have chosen to take time out to raise their family but then can’t find a way back in. These mothers are too readily overlooked by companies and present a massive missed opportunity for companies. Businesses need to reflect the way people want to work and live their lives. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with a colleague who has real ambition and help them to unlock their potential by supporting them to do work they never imagined they would do. That’s why I am a great fan of what 2to3days is doing and I am delighted to be working with them. One of the biggest barriers to business growth is finding great talent. Digital advances allow any company to operate on a global playing field which, by its very nature, is rich in diversity in the broadest sense – along gender, generational and national lines. It’s difficult to identify and reach working mothers which is why a platform to connect employers with talented women looking for fulfilling work is so needed. It’s difficult to identify and reach working mothers which is why a platform to connect employers with talented women looking for fulfilling work is so needed. From your experience of working with a wide range of clients; what are the three most important qualities that women at a senior management level bring to a company both commercially and culturally? The value women bring to a business is vast but if you’re really pressing me to come up with the three great qualities I personally admire the most, typically female strengths include: A natural affinity with clients and an ability to nurture strong relationships An innate ability to multi-task An alternative perspective to many conversations that enables us to make better and more informed decisions that create additional value to our clients and to the growth of Black Sun. In your opinion, what is the value to your clients’ stakeholders of having a truly diverse and inclusive culture in the short, medium and long term? Companies need their work force to reflect the real world. The attraction and retention of talent is one of the biggest challenges all companies face and therefore to overlook tapping into this incredibly rich talent pool is a massive missed opportunity both commercially and culturally. What advice do you give your two sons about their role in the home and in the workplace? To value equally the role of running the home with working - both worlds would fall apart without the two working in unison. It was my wife’s choice to be at home full time and my sons have been brought up to support and value the role she plays and we all actively acknowledge that our lives are significantly enhanced by the work she does. With work I tell them to do a job that they are passionate about and what really interests them and to be open to wherever this takes them.
Hudson, a global recruitment consultancy, is currently partnering with 2to3days to hire brilliant people to join its team of recruitment consultants in its Birmingham and London offices. So earlier this week, Juliet caught up with Stuart Packham, UK Board Director, who is driving this initiative, to find out why working for Hudson is a great career choice for people looking for a flexible and collaborative workplace that supports a healthy work-life balance. Why are you looking at the returning talent pool? We completely appreciate that people take time out of work for a wide variety of reasons; having a family is one reason, but people might also take time out to care for relatives or gain different life experiences. The ‘traditional’ career path is changing and having a wide mix of different work and life experiences has become highly sought-after. More often than not, returners to work have developed a rich assortment of life skills which are incredibly valuable to the business world, and more specifically, the recruitment industry. We want people with empathy, learning agility, and a desire to embrace change – and returners often have the attitude and approach we’re looking for, which could include returning mothers amongst your 2to3days network. In fact, over 54% of our workforce are women and a high percentage of these women are mothers, from the Executive down. What is Hudson’s vision? Hudson is going through a huge transformation, not only in terms of our products, services, and approach to the market, but also in how we work together internally. Globally, Hudson is made up of 2,500 people, and around 250 are based in the UK. Whilst we benefit from being part of a global team, we have integrated our innovative talent management expertise with our recruitment business, helping businesses navigate the whole new world of work by using our in-house tools and solutions. How is the recruitment market changing? Transactional recruitment is disappearing. Instead, we are moving towards a culture where an individual’s and a company’s true purpose will govern how they work and engage with people. Very soon, companies won’t advertise using a standard job description; instead the focus will switch to finding candidates with an ideal set of approaches or attitudes. Employers will list the projects that they want done and candidates will be asked to demonstrate how their ability, desire and life experiences make them the right fit for the role. Describe your company ethos and culture I don’t believe we have, or will ever have, one single culture; instead, we have a series of sub-cultures that come together to create an organisation connected by a shared purpose. But, generally speaking, we are an incredibly passionate and genuine bunch, and we like to consider ourselves innovative and entrepreneurial, with a high level of trust. If you have trust, you have an incredibly flexible culture. We’re not fans of micromanaging, and this is a very rare quality in the recruitment industry. Also, what is pertinent is that over 50% of the team at Hudson from the top down has some form of flexible working. How does Hudson support working mothers? The best way I can answer this question is to start by clearly stating that our aim is to create a working environment where everyone is able to customise their working pattern to achieve a greater balance. We believe the best way to support working mothers is not by singling them out. They don’t walk through the door on day one and get handed a T-shirt which says ‘I am a working mother – treat me differently’. We have a clear career structure in place that offers everyone the same opportunity to progress, develop and be rewarded – regardless of their working patterns. Only the other day, one of my colleagues, who is a mother, said to me – ‘I didn’t think I would be able to come back into the recruitment industry after just having a baby, and be able to do my job on a flexible basis; but I can at Hudson’. On a practical level, everyone has the IT support they need to work anywhere, so you don’t have to be pinned to your desk. A traditional recruitment company’s KPIs are linked to presenteeism; at Hudson we measure output, not time in the office, and we certainly won’t make you clock in and out every day. Tell us what makes a brilliant consultant? How much of that is background and experience versus personal traits or characteristics? Brilliant consultants are open-minded, embrace change, are customer focused and have a natural drive to work collaboratively both internally and externally across all functions and industry groups. The ones that truly shine have resilience – they don’t fall over as soon as someone says ‘no’, and they are prepared to make mistakes, pick themselves up and start again. As a father what’s the one piece of advice you would give your son or daughter in choosing their career? I believe that traditional career paths will no longer exist in a few years’ time. That’s why I always encourage my daughter to choose a career that enables them to have the opportunity to have a range of different experiences in life – not just the one. If you do something that you enjoy, your self-fulfilment and happiness will flow! For me, the most important thing is that my daughter has the confidence and opportunity to do something that she enjoys and finds rewarding. You can find out more about Hudson here.
2to3days are thrilled to announce that Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, has become our first 2to3days Featured Employer. They have pledged to advertise over 60 jobs to our members over the coming year. Katrina Hutchinson-O’Neill is in charge of all recruitment for Nationwide from entry level to senior professional opportunities. She is a mover and shaker in the world of FTSE 100 recruitment directors, so what she does at Nationwide has an impact on the wider corporate landscape. She gives her personal and professional motivations for partnering with 2to3days and offers some insightful tips to mothers applying for part-time roles: Smart businesses need to keep pace with people’s lives to attract talent To attract and retain the best talent and meet our business objectives Nationwide would be missing a trick to overlook working mums. We’re going one step further and are actively seeking out applications from mothers that want to work 2 to3 days per week, or another flexible arrangement. Flexible working is our benefit; not the employee’s problem Too many employers have regarded the provision of flexible working as a major concession that requires their staff to bend over backwards or incur penalties if arrangements don’t work out. This is particularly true for job shares where some employers place the onus on employees to find or replace job share partners. This is a cop out as it makes flexible working the problem of the person doing the job. I have a 3 day a week worker on my own team. who pursues both professional and personal interests on their days off which, on the face of it, may bear little resemblance to their ‘day job’. However, I am routinely amazed at the freshness and passion they bring to the team in their three days and the number of times they have been able to add amazing additional value to my team and to our company as a result of the additional skills this arrangement helps them bring to the table. Every mother should help another That flexible working is still not part of the working norm is bewildering. According to research that Nationwide commissioned of over 2,000 UK working adults in September 2017, nearly two thirds (64%) said they never even get an opportunity to work from home. We all need to call time on this restriction on talent, and female employers could be at the vanguard of hiring more staff with parenting responsibilities. The needs of other groups including men who are primary child carers, are equally important but as mums are undoubtedly the largest group excluded from the job market by lack of flexible opportunities, working with 2to3daysto hire more mums is an ideal place for Nationwide to start. Whilst all employers are duty bound to consider flexible working requests from existing employees, my personal mission is to make this standard practice for businesses hiring new staff. My tips for 2to3days members applying for jobs at Nationwide and elsewhere Be open and honest about what your requirements are and where you are able to offer some flexibility in return. But this doesn’t mean you need to overcompensate - a fine line to tread. Show a genuine interest in the role not the hours - we can sniff out an applicant who is more interested in the working pattern than the role they have applied for. Look out for results-driven culture – if you get to interview, ask how your performance will be measured. If your team measures inputs, this indicates a clock-watching culture or ‘presenteesim’ which won’t suit a flexible worker. Of particular relevance to mid to senior level roles, try to seek out outcome-based management styles. Establish whether your boss has previous experience of employing flexible workers. If you’re the test bed you may be in for a rockier ride, although a good employer should be able to provide reassurance. Every mother is different On a personal level, I have felt discriminated against in the past by bosses who have made assumptions about what I’d be prepared to do after having children. I’m the first to recognise that every individual has different needs, in and out of work. Every parent returning to work has a different set up, they may be a single mother or in a relationship with someone who is the primary childcarer. I have three small children, and a very supportive husband who also works full time and who takes charge of the kids during the week because my home is 415 miles away from my main office location! Whilst my current work-life arrangements are far from typical, Nationwide has enabled me to be successful in both home and work lives. But even with an incredibly supportive employer, holding down a senior level role and juggling kids, travel, two cats, three rabbits and a goldfish is always going to need a bit of organisation and planning! As the person responsible for attracting top talent into the Society, working with 2to3days is helping me to help working mothers and a growing number of firms are following suit. Katrina Hutchinson- O’Neill is Director of Resourcing at the Nationwide Building Society, a 2to3days Featured Employer.
Mum & You has just launched its online business platform selling innovative, clever Mum and baby products with a brilliant twist; from day one, the company (run by Mums) is putting money aside to help Mums who need it. Tell us how Mum & You came about M & Y was formed when a group of parents who happen to be businesspeople discovered we shared a strong life purpose; we all wanted to contribute to making the world a better place for children. Our joint life experience told us the best way to do this is to support Mothers – because if a Mother is cared about, encouraged and given opportunity, there’s a far greater chance her children will be happy, healthy and live to their full potential. At our launch, we’re proud to be a company that, at its heart, has been created to help Mothers. While our products are pretty damn brilliant (intuitive, innovative and contemporary), we already do much more to help Mums. By promoting flexible working, entrepreneurship, networking and partnerships as well as helping Mums that need it most with some basic provisions, we believe we create positive change that makes Motherhood work – for everyone. How did you hear about 2to3days? One of our co-founders, Andrea, was having a chat with a Dad called Thomas about Mum & You, “He instantly picked up that we shared the same values and strongly recommended we connect. So then we spoke, met face to face and started working together and thank goodness we did – supporting and collaborating with other, female- and mum-led companies has huge business and social advantages.” Andrea, Mum & You co-founder. Thomas, the introducing Dad, says “ It made perfect sense. On the one side, who better than M&Y to create products for mothers and babies than mothers with that experience; and on the other 2to3days.com as a leading specialist in helping business tap into the vast pool of mothers who want to combine career with being a mother. If a mother can manage birth and bringing up children, she can manage anything!” Is there a shared purpose between what you’re trying to achieve and what we’re doing at 2to3days? Absolutely. A huge part of our drive to support Mothers comes from within. We know how blimmin hard being a parent can be because M&Y is made up entirely of parents! Everything we do, we do in a way that helps and supports flexible working; all our products are designed and made by Mums – on their terms. We help Mums return to work and it’s why we donate nappies to those who need it most. It’s also why we specifically partner and work with companies that are supporting Mums in much the same way. Our filmmakers, photographers, illustrators and contributors are predominantly all Mums who, because of our policies, are able to work flexibly to suit their needs and those of their family. Because we believe all this will lead back, even if at the start it’s a drop in society’s ocean, to happier, healthier children more likely to reach their full potential. How many jobs have you advertised through 2to3days? We are still a relatively small team (just ten of us) but we’re delighted to say that so far we have successfully hired two pivotal roles through 2to3days, our Head of Technology and our Head of Customer Support. Around 20 people applied and, after a competitive interview stage we’ve found two amazing new members of our team – Rachael and Sarah – now they’re more like family. With such a small team, it goes without saying that we are only after the highest calibre of applicants and that’s why we’re advertising a third role for a Digital Marketing Manager now and going for our 2to3days hat trick! Here’s what Rachael and Sarah think of 2to3days… “I was delighted to see a senior role advertised with 2to3days for Mum & You that offered the flexibility required to manage my work life-balance - it was a perfect match!” Rachael – Mum and head of Tech at Mum & You ‘’2to3days was such an amazing resource to find. It allowed me to seek opportunities and not feel that I needed to shy away from the fact that I was a Mum. Working for Mum & You really has made working workable! Not only is it an opportunity to be part of an amazing team of talented & ground-breaking individuals, but at its heart, it is there to support Mums. I now talk openly to colleagues and customers about being a Mum and my family get to see that I have my confidence back….what a revelation! Perhaps we can have it all?!” Sarah – Head of Customer Support at Mum & You
We have a wealth of experience in our mothers and the experts we work with; we asked for top tips on helping mothers feel energised and confident on their journey back to work. Here are the results that should help you transition smoothly back into work: 1. Be proud of what you do... Celebrate motherhood and discover how to transfer the skills you have learnt as a mother to the workplace. “Remember all that you have achieved in your career before and everything you have learned as a mother - the combination of these two things will blow their socks off!” “Preparing to enter into the world of work, means moving away from the mindset of ‘I’m just a mum’ to one that sees your skills, abilities and experience in a new way.” “Truly value the skills you had before you became a mother and those you have learnt during your pregnancy and transition to motherhood. Write down all the achievements previously attained and spend some time remembering how you felt at the time.” “Make a list of all the skills you've been using during your break and consider how these are transferable to work (chances are there's nothing more challenging at work than negotiating with a determined toddler at home!).” “Enlist the help of your friends and loved ones to tell you what they consider your strengths and skills to be too.” “Be proud of your extended career break. What makes you the best candidate and how has your extended career break contributed to that?” “Acknowledge the huge growth you have experienced and will bring to a new employer.” “Make a note of all your strengths (not just what you're good at but what you really enjoy and what energises you).” 2. Focus is everything What is your ideal job? How many days do you want to work? Become clear about what you want and focus on it. “Take the time to find out what you really want to do. Think about combining your personal skills in a job sector you are interested in.” “Write out a simple reminder of your “what” and “why,” so that you can pull it out in moments of doubt and reconnect at any time with your creative and inspiring energy.” “Be clear about what you want and why. Identify your motivations for going back to work. Is it for financial reasons? to contribute?, to be a part of something, or to have an identity..?” “What are your priorities? What you are prepared to be flexible about and what is non-negotiable?” “Before looking outwards, spend some time looking within. Find 10-15 minutes a day for 7 days. Sit quietly and allow yourself to envisage your "perfect job", the hours, the location, the salary, and the purpose. How would it feel to see this opportunity appear and grasp it with both hands?” 3. Keep In touch Even if it’s just the odd drink, It’s a good idea to keep in touch with old work colleagues. Aside from reminding yourself that you did have another life before becoming a mum, you never know when that perfect job might just pop up. “Networking, networking, networking - this is the key to survival in the corporate world. Update your LinkedIn profile and see what groups others are following in your field. Follow organisations you would like to work for, and approach them directly, either through a contact or research the name of a head of department and send a letter to them.” “While away from work, try to stay in touch with colleagues and others in your industry, so you're not completely out of the loop when you return. Read relevant industry magazines and websites too.” “Focus on building your network. Treat every meeting as a potential work opportunity - jobs are quite often created around people, so be prepared to talk positively about what you have to offer.“Resist slipping into underselling yourself by talking about what you can't do/don't know/feel worried about. Save this for your closest friends and family!” “Engage with social media and set up your profile on LinkedIn (but don't treat this as a substitute for getting out and talking to people).” 3. Get work ready Having a CV together and your childcare in place is vital. That way you can feel focused and strong about finding work. “Your CV is your key marketing tool - be sure you have it looking good and stating your achievements in previous positions.” “Practice interviews. Think about your pitch and what you have to offer employers.” “Find out what recruiters are seeking and maximise your potential by filling any gaps through developing new skills.” “Chat with a professional CV writer or career coach. Your confidence in your skills and what you can offer to an employer will soar.” “Lots of people aren't sure how to cover a career break in a CV but you can turn it into a positive.” “If you have the time but no finance, hone your skills by offering to undertake a volunteer role – for example on a church committee, school governor or at a charity shop.” 4. Train your confidence According to the experts, confidence is simply a state of mind that you can practice. “Write down your top 50 'confident' moments. They are all there - you just need to look for them.” “Believe in yourself and trust the inner intuition that has prompted you to return to work in the first place!” “Re-connect with your previous successes rather than feeling you need to re-prove yourself and start all over again. “ “There is no failure only feedback. For example after a disappointing interview, remember you have learnt something from the experience and you can do better next time.” “Stop with the comparison. Be happy in your own skin.” “Are you sure you want to do the job you are applying for? In my experience when someone doesn't want to do something, they find every excuse not to and the procrastination creates unhappiness. “ “The more excited you are about your potential new endeavor, the more you'll have what it takes to make it happen.” “Learn to silence your "inner critic", which erodes self-confidence and hampers your ability.” “Praise yourself for the things you do well, keep this up when you take the first step towards getting a job and make a habit of it whilst you are working.” “Surround yourself with positive "can do" people who are supportive and contribute to your sense of self-worth.” 5. Create a back to work look According to the experts, it’s about a handful of basics. For more inspiration, check out (link to wardrobe blog) our blog for further top tips on your back to work wardrobe. “Remember if you look good you will feel better about yourself. Take the time to think about the clothes you love wearing and why.” “Nail your capsule business wardrobe. You need far fewer clothes than you think to create a successful working wardrobe. The key is to ensure all your items colour co-ordinate, which then gives you endless outfit combinations. Just 4 jackets, 2 skirts, 2 dresses, 4 simple scoop neck tops, a pair of trousers and a Mac will give you enough outfits for at least a month!” “Have a haircut, get a manicure. Be polished and you will look like you are in control which is the first step to being in control!” “Make the most of accessories - accessories are an easy and inexpensive way of adding interest and personality to your outfits.” “Think about your the impact that you want to have when you first meet a prospective employer. What does your appearance say about you? How smart, confident and contemporary do you look?” “Treat yourself to some office clothes so that you feel the part - even if it's not how you're feeling on the inside, an outfit that 'fits the part' will really help your confidence.”