After I had my first baby, I was dedicated in my quest to chose a “good” employer while I had a young family. Honestly, I would have preferred not to work at all, but as this was not an option, I found a large, reputable organization where flexible working was the norm. During my time there, I tried out pretty much any flexible working arrangement you could think of: part-time, condensed hours, job share and all in a flexible and understanding environment. I was considered a good performer and was seeing reasonable progression in my career. I was also thoroughly bored: too comfortable as a small cog in a very big, slow-moving machine. I knew this was a career cul-de-sac, but that seemed like a small price to pay for the flexibility I was enjoying.
While I was on maternity leave with my third child, my manager left the company to join Sky. A few months later, he called me out of the blue and asked me to consider joining him. Up to my ears in nappies, with three children under the age of four, this dilemma was the very last thing I wanted. Sky was a tantalizing prospect: a media company at the top of its game in an exciting period of innovation and growth. The organization, the role and the prospects were far more enticing than what I would be going back to. But starting again somewhere I wasn’t known and trusted, especially not somewhere with a reputation for being a tough place to work. I felt I would be risking the delicate balance and happiness of my whole family, a balance that I had made my number one priority for the past few years.
On the flipside, he was the best manager I’d ever had and I still had a lot to learn from him. I had firsthand proof of how he supported committed people to get the best out of work and life: I just had no way of knowing if we could make that work at Sky.
I took the leap: trusted him, got through the interviews and joined Sky. And I have never looked back. The guilt I used to feel about being a working mum faded: I was too busy doing meaningful work and having fun doing it to worry about that any more. Of course, I’ve put in the hours, but crucially, I’ve been able to spread those hours so that I don’t miss class assemblies or birthday teas, football matches or parents’ evenings. It turns out that Sky is a place that values what you deliver, not how you organise yourself to deliver it. Most people don’t know, and certainly don’t care that I work part-time. And measuring me on my results, and not my hours ultimately led to a significant promotion last year.
What I’ve learned is that the decision between career and family is not binary and is not made once, but tweaked many times as priorities change and children grow. With the support of the right people, you can make both work.