To celebrate Global Day of Parents on 1st June 2022, we spoke to a few of our team about their life as working parents. They share their experiences of working and raising children, as well as advice for others embarking on this journey.
Gregory Pennington, Senior Associate
What I do: I work on exciting, fast-paced strategy projects and M&A deals across Plural’s sectors. Each day presents a variety of interesting opportunities. In a given week I may spend time with my team on structuring the best approach towards cracking a case, interviewing industry experts, presenting key findings and recommendations to clients, or enjoying social time with my team after wrapping up my latest project.
Life as a working parent: I make sure to rise early to spend time with my daughter each morning. On days when I am in the office, I try to leave early enough to be home before bedtime or do video calls throughout the day. A few days a week I work from home which allows me to help throughout the day and spend more time with my daughter.
What has changed since I had my first child: Somewhat unsurprisingly, I have found that after becoming a parent I value my time with family even more than before and find that my days are busier than ever! So I do my best to be more focused and efficient when working to not only accomplish my professional goals but also carve out quality time to spend with my daughter and wife.
My advice to other working parents: I would encourage all working parents to be open about the challenges of navigating life with a little one. Your colleagues understand and want to help you make the most of your career and family life, but they can only help if you ask. Simultaneously, it is important to talk with your partner about who does what and when and share more about your work constraints in advance.
Catherine Daly, Director
What I do: I’m currently navigating a return to consulting, after spending a number of years working in the corporate world. During that time I started my family and my kids are now 4 and 2 years old. My role involves a mix of leading teams on client engagements, business development and internal Plural activities – quite varied.
Life as a working parent: Generally, I try to make sure I am there for the start and end of my kids day and wherever I can I flex my work to fit around that. It is quite full on, but my partner and I share things and we are fortunate to have very supportive extended family. Plural is also a very supportive environment for this way of working. Working from home since Covid-19 has made a real difference as it allows me to do the pick-ups and drop-offs that I wouldn’t be able to do if I was in the office every day.
What has changed since I had my first child: It does focus your mind as you have more to fit into your day and you have to be more deliberate about where you spend your time. There’s no room for faffing!
My advice to other working parents: I find it helps to step back and think about what balance I want to achieve, and then try to be as deliberate as possible about achieving it. But I also try to accept that some days or weeks it just doesn’t work out and try to be forgiving of myself for that. Generally, I find that being open and communicating well about commitments with both work and family really helps.
Jonathan Dufton, Partner
What I do: I do a bit of everything! It ranges from reviewing work and brainstorming with project teams, preparing for and meeting with (potential) clients, and supporting various internal Plural initiatives.
Life as a working parent: I like to be able to help take my children to school in the morning and/or get to bed in the evening. The flexibility at Plural means I can start my working day at home, before doing the school run and then coming into work afterwards. Similarly I will aim to leave slightly earlier so I can spend time with them in the evening before finishing any outstanding work in the evening
What has changed since I had my first child: A greater appreciation of time
My advice to other working parents: Good luck! Work on strike the right balance between home and work life – there are benefits of having a mix of both.
Louise Obadia, Partner & COO
What I do: As a Partner and COO at Plural, my days are incredibly varied. I tend to be in meetings for the majority of the days I work in the office, slightly less when I am at home, as I like to manage the time I spend on zoom. 80% of my role is to ensure that all the operational functions of the business are efficient and effective. We have a lot of internal projects running at the moment, to develop our people, processes and systems, so I spend a lot of time talking to people so I am up-to-date on their progress and to brainstorm other ways in which we can improve ourselves as a business. The other 20% of my role is consulting project related, in particular I engage in business development activities to build new client relationships and help identify opportunities for us to work together on their strategic goals and potential acquisitions. I also get involved in projects where my operational experience adds value. No two days are ever the same – which is fantastic!
Life as a working parent: My children (twin boys) have just turned 17 and so the problems and challenges as a parent are very different to when they were little. I still like to be able to take them to school in the morning and to be around at the end of the day once or twice a week – not to help them with their homework of course, but more to discuss their day and ensure that they are focused on their studies. I also have to make dinner when I get home, so I need to be super organised about that in terms of planning and ensure that I get home at a decent enough time to cook! Obviously, there are things that crop up such as parents evening or appointments that need to be fit in too – often last minute – but Plural are very flexible about things like that. As a company, we are ‘family first’ and we also trust that people will do their job to the best of their ability – it is not about the hours they do it within!
What has changed since I had my first child: Company attitudes towards working mothers, in general, have changed for the better in my opinion. When I had my children I was running the company I had started but had sold the year before to a large Plc. Whilst they were very generous financially, there was quite a lot of pressure to return to work as soon as possible. The more senior you were, the less flexibility you were given. I went back to work, in the office, 4 days pw after 4.5 months, which was very early given that I had had twins. I found the adjustment very hard, but I had a wonderful nanny who looked after the boys really well – which gave me the peace of mind I needed to be able to go to work. She really helped me to juggle the demands of young children and a pressurised job. Today, you are allowed to take more time off and companies are much more flexible with regards to WFH too. There has been a mindset shift towards paternity and sharing parenting leave too – which makes the whole thing so much more doable!
My advice to other working parents: It’s all about making your life as easy as possible, making sure you have a good support system in place and finding the balance that works for you. Try to be as routined about it as possible and manage expectations from the start. If you want to be home to collect your kids from school twice a week then say so at the outset and stick to it! It can be incredibly stressful, feeling as though you are pulled in lots of different directions and not doing a very good job in any role – as a parent or at work – but you can do it! If things get difficult at times, don’t hide it – talk to those around you – your team and your line manager.