We’re helping to #BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day, by celebrating the achievements of strong women and the little ones they’re raising. So, when it came to finding some incredible mamas to talk to how they’ve combined motherhood and a successful career, we turned to some of the women who work here at Mamas & Papas.
We asked the women on our leadership team to tell us about their own journey to becoming a mother whilst growing their careers, and as well as telling us about their biggest achievements, they shared some important advice for other mamas forging their own career paths.
Jo – Digital Director
Sonia – Product Director
Nichola – Head of Business Change
Why is it important for Mamas & Papas to celebrate International Women’s Day?
Jo: It is important because our core values reflect equality, inclusion, diversity and respect. International Women's day helps re-emphasis the need to continually celebrate success and to take time to reflect on personal achievements both professional and private. It is important that we recognise and empower women not just on International Women's day but also throughout the year which is a core principle we live too.
Nicola: Diversity in the workplace is important to me as it is only when you bring people together with different life experiences and insights that you can truly understand your customer. In addition, a diverse workforce will bring a wider range of knowledge and talent to the team, in which in turn, will increase strategic thinking and innovation allowing more successes to be achieved and celebrated together.
Why do you think diversity in the workplace is important?
Jo: A great team is always made up of different people, from diverse backgrounds who bring a unique set of skills, talent and experience. I believe success comes by being open to these different strengths and ideas. A diverse and inclusive culture also helps to attract the best talent to our organisation. We are lucky that at Mamas & Papas we have a team who trust, fostering a healthy environment where people are comfortable and can challenge each other.
How have you balanced being a mother and a professional?
Jo: By being exceptionally efficient. Traditional 9-5 doesn’t work for me, it never really has, even before children. I love my job so I am more than happy to work late outside of core hours from home or wherever however the last few years have taught us all that face to face discussion and debate is really important and so I aim to prioritise that first.
Balancing isn’t easy though and if I haven’t ended up with either mum guilt or work guilt, I congratulate myself on a great job! Let’s also take a minute to touch on the various lockdowns we have faced, hats off to all families - nuclear, extended and single-parent families who managed to work and home school. I applaud you all.
Sonia: At times with great difficulty! When I had my first child 15 years ago things were very different to now and the expectation was very much that your work was not compromised if you wanted to pursue your career. Thankfully a lot has changed and there is so much emphasis now on supporting mums coming back to work so that they are able to enjoy and manage both. In terms of how I have achieved the right balance I would say organisation above everything and knowing what to prioritise, when you are at work focus and give it your all and at home you must do the same or you will feel like you are not winning at anything!
Nichola: Everyone balances motherhood and careers differently – for me it is about reducing as much stress as possible from daily life so that I can enjoy being both a mother and have a rewarding career. Before I became a mother I re-evaluated my priorities, I accepted that I could not do everything and so I chose three areas that were really important to me and these are the areas where I try to be the best version of myself. When motherhood arrived it was about, and still is about, being mega organised. I run one calendar with both family and work commitments to ensure there are no clashes, daily “To Do” list make sure nothing is forgotten and wherever possible I try to remain ahead of deadlines so that when unexpected events happen stress is alleviated. Finally and most importantly I try to be present in what I am doing, to treasure special moments and to recognise successes which allows me to enjoy my time both at home and at work.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Sonia: First and most important look to choose a career in something you are genuinely interested in. Loving what you do makes the challenging times feel worthwhile and the good times the best reward. Be patient and gain a good level of experience at the beginning, take every opportunity that you are given to learn and do something new especially if it feels like you are pushing yourself beyond your current skill set. Be the person that stands out if you want to go further it will be noticed. If you want to lead a team you will be given lots of different advice along the way but follow your natural style with people.. you won’t be a good leader if you’re faking it! Be fair, manage with empathy, behave with integrity and don’t compromise on your values.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Jo: Pulling together the digital team in a really difficult time for everyone. The pandemic made us change our working ways and fast, as a result we are a better slicker team.
If you could have dinner with 3 inspirational women (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
Sonia: The Queen , how can you not admire the longest serving Queen and British Monarch in her 70th year of reign. Oprah Winfrey – phenomenal business woman who has built an amazing empire from a very tough start in life which is something that holds extra kudos from me. Finally, Dolly Parton – my 3rd and favourite motivational female to spend the evening with.
Nichola: Dame Anita Roddick, she was my key role model in my teens and early twenties. Malala Yousafzai, I believe all girls should be entitled to an education which in turn will give them choices and hence my second guest would be Malala Yousafzai. And Audrey Hepburn, not only is she my style icon and great actress but also a courageous women.