Here's Pippa's story - A mother of two who made a career pivot from advertising to marketing after her career break.
1. Tell us a little about your career background before taking a career break?
I fell in love with the creative world of Advertising when I was at University. I saw the business side of this industry as the perfect mesh between being a creative body (which I was) and managing strategic business (which I loved) –doing things exciting, fabulous and ever so different. I fell head over heels for Saatchi & Saatchi and their “nothing is impossible” ethos – and made a be-line for them when I entered the working world in NZ. I was named runner-up (annoyingly) in the NZ Suit of the Year competition (for under 30’s) just before I left for London. I was a very passionate and ambition suit ready to take on the world! I had 4.5 years at another of the big agencies (Grey London) in London working on global brands, shooting ads in Hollywood, and working with A-class talent, before leaving London to head to Sydney’s sunny shores. I was pregnant when I left London, so on arrival into Sydney was straight into the new world of Motherhood. Like any career I had my share of lessons along the way, of up’s and down’s and of fantastic stimulating times and others just treading water. I looked forward to the break motherhood would bring me for a while.
2. What was the hardest thing you found about returning to work after a career break?
The hardest thing for me was leaving my child – I didn’t want to one bit. I loved focusing on being a Mummy and it broke my heart to hand this role over to someone else. I cried in the loos for the first week every time the nanny sent me a photo. It was so hard. The second hardest thing was the realisation of how much time had actually passed since I had worked – how much things had changed, even in that short space. Gulp!
3. What job-search strategy or approach was most effective in landing yourself a role?
Having not worked in Sydney before I didn’t have an old job, or any old connections to go to, so it was a hard start. I had a meeting with one recruiter (who I’d been recommended) and she absolutely terrified me! She was everything I wished I was, and had confidence and belief in herself to boot! I hadn’t realised how mentally unprepared I was for this meeting. She really shook me up – BUT she gave me some great advice, and useful pointers which I heeded, and I used to position myself (in a far better way) for my next move which was to go into old contacts from London days, to get introductions and “meet & greets” in Sydney. This was the way in which I did finally get my job.
4. What were your biggest motivators to return to work and what continues to motivate you to balance work and family?
It was not until I found myself back in the workforce in late 2017 that I really realised how motivated, stimulated and more complete I felt with career work back in my life. Now, what I get from work is me-time, adults, stimulation, being part of something and my old “hunger” for wanting to do great things. For me I know that 3 days is what works for my balance in life, and I feel strongly about sticking to that – and that was an important thing to test and learn too. A wise friend told me in the early days of working as a mother, this stage of your career is about maintaining, the money benefits and the glory will return when the children are older, so for now it’s in maintenance mode and getting as much from your career and Motherhood at the same time. And this for me is very true.
5. What are your top 3 challenges of balancing work and family and how do you manage them?
Time. Time. Time. It’s not having enough time to do the job I would like to do; as a worker, a mother, a wife, a homemaker and for me. I do them all part time now. But I am OK with that, and I am a happier worker, mother, wife, homemaker and me because of the sum of each part.
6. If you could offer just one bit of advice to a mother considering a return to work after a career break, what would it be?
Find the right job for you. Think about what that is – versus being flattered by an offer and someone wanting you. The wrong job, makes it ALL wrong and it all inevitably falls to pieces in the end. This is true at any stage in your career, but never more important than at the time you return to work after having children. Really think about what you need from work.
7. Anything else you’d like to add?
I didn’t know if I wanted to work while being a mother, I really thought I didn’t. I couldn't ever quite understand how other friends enjoyed it so much. But I’ve found the right job for me (right now) and I love it, there’s a bit of old me back again, and I like her!
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