It’s a wet Wednesday evening in December. I’m dragging myself across the kitchen with an 18-month old clinging to one leg and a four-year-old tugging at my skirt, demanding my attention. I’m heading for my phone which is ringing next to the Christmas outfit I finished making last night for my son’s stage debut in next week’s nativity play. Sure enough, it’s the client I’ve been waiting to speak to all day, calling to confirm the schedule for Monday’s interviews for the interim CFO role
My working life used to be so simple. I’d head into the office, usually early to talk with candidates before they started the working day, and work pretty much non-stop until the early evening. Then my friend and I would stroll out of work and into the nearest bar to chat over a bottle of wine.
Once I had a family, my days had to be planned with military precision. Like many working parents I have to fit in a full-time job with family life; it’s a balance that many find to be a struggle.
But I have an unfair advantage. Eton Bridge Partners is a family friendly organisation, where caring responsibilities are recognised and respected. When I sit at my desk I’m surrounded by other parents who have also had to pack a satchel, usher their children to nursery and wipe jam off their suit jacket. There’s a definitive spirit of mutual support and comradery.
I’ve been with Eton Bridge Partners since it was established. I was an ambitious, married woman in her thirties, keen to advance my career while recognising the next logical stage in my life was to have children. But how could I balance those needs?
Now, seven years and two children later, I’ve been blessed with a variety of challenging roles which have grown my experience and exposed me to different parts of the business.
There’s no formula to finding the perfect balance between pursuing your career and spending quality time with your family. But after comparing notes with colleagues, there are some characteristics to look out for when you choose who to work with.
1 – Look for a firm and a leadership team that is respectful of each individual and shares a set of values that reflect your own. Then give back as much as you can. I feel I belong in Eton Bridge Partners because of its ethical standpoint, its focus on excellence over quantity and its family-friendly policies.
2 – Establish trust. My relationship with colleagues is excellent. They believe in me and are respectful of the time I spend with my family because they know I will deliver what I say I will, when I say I will.
3 – Look for a support team that can help you do your job well. In my experience, Eton Bridge Partners’ researchers, executive assistants and accounts team are second to none. I can focus on my job, confident in the knowledge they’ve got my back.
4 – Find colleagues who take pride in their work. Pride is a key value in Eton Bridge Partners and it is this, combined with a team-based approach, that means we support each other to ensure we meet the needs of clients and candidates alike.
5 – Get clarity about expectations. The culture at Eton Bridge Partners is supportive but never complacent. The expectations placed on me as a working parent are no less or greater than those of my colleagues. I am clear about what I need to do and I know that as long as I can meet, or better, those expectations I will get the flexibility I need.
Then there are the key aspects which demonstrate that an organisation sees employees’ families as an important interest group. I recently took my children to the Eton Bridge Partners offices for our annual kids Christmas party – a highlight of the office calendar; one of the many small gestures that makes a big difference.
PLEASE NOTE: This article is featured in Executive Grapevine’s ‘Guide to Interim Management 2017’.