Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and the work you do.
I’m currently a Category Development Manager at Woolworths Supermarkets where I am responsible for partnering with the buying team to develop long-term data-driven category strategy and plans. I joined Woolworths Group about 2 years ago. Outside of work my little family includes my husband, my son who is 5 and my daughter who is almost 3 years old. While I was on parental leave with my daughter, I made the decision to switch from my previous employer where I had been for 6 years. So, when my daughter was 7 months old, I joined the Woolworths Group and came across the Grace Papers program about a year later.
What’s one strategy that you’ve taken away or put into action after going through the Grace Papers platform?
I think it’s fair to say that I stumbled across the Grace Papers program. Having watched a webinar and wanting to follow up I signed up to the Grace Papers platform and was then provided with the opportunity to join a few coaching sessions. I was at a stage where I had done multiple different roles and my daughter was turning 2 and I wanted to focus more on my career and the direction I wanted to take. The coaching sessions combined with the resources were helpful in putting my professional vision together as well as doing a strength assessment to provide clarity on what I would look for in a potential future role. Developing the professional vision also provided clarity on the parenting legacy I wanted to take as well. Having that clarity has been helpful when I have to balance multiple priorities.
What hurdles did you come up against on your journey to balance both career and care? How did you tackle them?
Finding balance doesn’t come easily in my view and there are times where I have to draw boundaries so I can focus on what’s important to me. For example, twice a week I like to pick my son up from school, so I book out my calendar during the time and go to pick him and go home and work thereafter. The happiness on his face when he sees me at the school gate is something I cherish. There are also times I have to prioritise meetings, so occasionally on those days I have to send him to afterschool care which my son understands. My husband and I also do take turns at pick up balancing both our calenders. Returning to work after having my daughter I found having notifications on my phone was really distracting and so I disabled notifications so I could have the separation between home time with my family time and spend quality time rather than being distracted.
What have you learned about yourself through the process?
For me it’s the clarity on what’s important to me and it has made it easier for me to make decisions having this clarity, for example the professional vision and employee value proposition helped me identify where I wanted my career to head and helped me to seek out my current role. It has also helped me to understand the parenting legacy I want to leave as well, so having that clarity helps me prioritise school carnivals, parent days, book week etc.
What would be your advice to any expectant, new working parent or carer?
Each individual circumstance is different and so I would suggest spending time thinking through what’s important to you and using the resources you have. I would recommend Grace Papers as a really good resource to tap into which I wish I had when I was at the early stages of returning back from parental leave. I would also encourage you to have a conversation with your manager on what’s important to you. For example, I’ve had conversations with my manger mentioning that there are two days I will leave for an hour to pick my son from school and work from home thereafter and will make that up during my workday which my team and manger have been quite understanding about.
What would be your advice to any manager/leader in terms of enabling their staff to balance both career and care?
As a manger I have individuals at different stages of life in my team, some going on parental leave, some just coming back from parental leave and others who have been back for a few months. Having the empathy to understand different circumstances, providing the flexibility each individual needs as well as accommodating different working arrangements to create an inclusive environment are important from my perspective. As leaders, we play an important role in supporting individuals back to work and I’ve recently had conversations with the Grace Papers team on how I best I can support some of the individuals in my team and I hope to learn more over the next few months.
What words do you live by?
Be kind to yourself.
What I’ve Learned is a series dedicated to sharing the collective wisdom of the Grace Papers’ community.