As we continue our series on women in business, we spoke to our senior designer Sarah. Coming from a traditional design background, Sarah’s career has enabled her to explore a range of working options, from corporate culture to becoming freelance. Here she shares her thoughts on finding the right work/life balance and the benefits of flexible working.
As a working mum, what is your biggest professional achievement to date?
This is a hard question to put into one singular answer, so I’m breaking it down into 3!
Prior to having my little girl, I was a design manager in a large creative department within a huge organisation. I had a team of up to 12 designers, this was a challenge I thrived on. Working with various degrees of experience to encourage growth & experience whilst managing workloads, overseeing creative work & planning & art directing photo shoots.
Once I had my little girl, I had the opportunity to go freelance. This in itself was a huge achievement as I quickly gained loyal clients which gave me a fantastic work/life balance.
More recently, I have taken a full-time, e-commerce senior designer role. This has been a steep learning curve, coming from a ‘classic’ design background. Whilst this has been one of the most challenging roles to date, it has pushed my skills. I feel a great sense of achievement with how much knowledge I have gained as well as making a big difference to the look of the website in a short period of time.
For you, what is the one thing a professional environment should offer a mum?
I think it’s important to a working mum that a company is open to a certain amount of flexibility, helping with the juggle of drop offs, pick ups & ad-hoc childcare issues. In an ideal world, a company should be open to the idea of part-time, or reduced hours, even if this means working at home to make any time up. This would help a working mum have a better work/life balance, therefore have a happier work-life! An appreciation that you can’t work late every night as you have to / want to get home to your little one. In my experience, working mums are excellent at time management (you have to be!).
How do you manage the “juggle”?
Organisation is absolutely key! When I was freelance, childcare was always a juggle as I didn’t always know week to week which days I would be working (thankfully her nursery was VERY flexible in swapping days).
Now that I’m full-time, I know what’s happening with childcare each day. Each night I prepare for the next day: Where is she going? What will she need? Who will be taking/picking her up?
I also get her clothes ready, although she regularly dismisses my suggestion & chooses her own!
What’s the one secret you think all working mums should know about?
Get a cleaner! Honestly, if you can I’d say it’s worth every penny. Weekends are precious time with your family, you don’t want to spend it cleaning! As I don’t generally get home from work until 6pm, I only have an hour with her before bedtime. I avoid any housework etc until she’s in bed so that hour is quality time spent with her.
What are your future career goals?
In my current role, I want to build a strong team of in-house designers as there is huge potential to really strengthen the creative both online & offline. I love managing creative teams so I have an ambition that the business will grow in such way that this will become a necessity.
In a world of busy online media, do you have any go-to resources to make mum-life easier?
Netmums is a popular site although personally, I keep an eye on local Facebook pages that are aimed towards mums. There are always suggestions of where to go, upcoming child-friendly events, even health-related issues.