Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and the work you do.
I am currently an Innovation chef, supporting Foodco in developing Own Brand products. It’s exciting, fast paced and innovative! We’re constantly looking ahead for opportunities to create quality products that have a point of difference in the market. Food has always been my passion. I trained as a Cordon Bleu chef in Cape Town and now have over 20 years experience in food across 5 countries in various sectors that include retail, restaurants, hotels, bakeries, food service, private houses, my own cafe/cake business and now Woolworths.
Two years ago at the start of Covid, whilst we were all stuck at home wondering what the future would hold, l made the decision to plan to have a baby ‘myself’. The term ‘myself’ is a powerful one but l am certainly not alone. I have the support of my family who live in Perth and a huge village of friends here in Sydney who have come along the journey so far. My daughter Savannah has been my best life decision! I feel incredibly grateful to be working for such a forward thinking, supportive business that provides you with Grace papers as a platform to guide you through your return to work.
What’s one strategy that you’ve taken away or put into action after going through the GP platform?
The GP platform provided me with the confidence to create a clear, concise plan to present to my line manager ahead of returning to work. It was so helpful to hear of other working mothers in the business and how they have transitioned through the program. Structuring a working environment that would balance work and daycare effectively was key for me.
What hurdles did you come up against on your journey to balance both career and care? How did you tackle them?
I have always been very reliable and flexible at work and able to say yes to anything! It took some time to realise that l could still deliver on this but accepting that it would be within time frames each day due to pick up and drop off at daycare. I initially found it challenging transitioning my daughter into daycare through winter with all the sickness’ and felt that l was letting down my team. What I learnt is that you have to put things that are beyond your control aside, be kind to yourself and stay focused on what is possible. By committing to my return to work plan and keeping a positive mindset l am now back on track and feel confident l am delivering in my role. I also acknowledge that my concerns were more about me and how l was focusing too much on how l used to tackle work ahead of pregnancy and becoming a mother.
What have you learned about yourself through the process?
The importance of planning, defining my values both professionally and personally. On becoming a mum l am even more conscious of my decisions and how I choose to turn up each day. I have a beautiful little girl watching my every move! It has made me even more driven and open to creating more opportunities to step up confidently and challenge myself, not only in my career but as a mother.
What would be your advice to any expectant, new working parent or carer?
When you are a solo parent you forget that this may appear a big deal juggling your work alongside your day to day life but for me it’s just normal. I am empowered to share this with any future solo mums out there. Anything is possible if you set yourself up for success. A positive mindset is key! Have courage, be positive and select wisely with the support team that you choose to join you on your journey! Stay true to yourself and set realistic goals on your return. We have all taken away some key insights post covid. For me personally, courage to make huge life decisions! l wanted to share my personal story on being a solo parent to empower other women out there who might be considering the same. It is possible to balance it all. Be kind to yourself as it is a learning curve and not always a smooth ride. This message goes out to all new parents!
What would be your advice to any manager/leader in terms of enabling their staff to balance both career and care?
I was incredibly lucky to have my line manager, Bazil Stander, on the journey. I wish to thank him for his ongoing support and for having respect and trust in my return to work plan. To other leaders in the business l say ‘the lead up is as important as the return plan’. Be committed to the supporting and channelling your team member’s values, needs and future goals in their absence. Ensure they feel reconnected, valued and supported in their return to work. Be flexible and accepting that plans may change as they evolve.
What words do you live by?
Life is short, take time to really focus on what it is that you want out of life and go out and get! Spend time with people that interest you and challenge you and it will lead you to amazing things! Most importantly run your own race!
What I’ve Learned is a series dedicated to sharing the collective wisdom of the Grace Papers’ community.