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Jane Garnsey Working Mum Interview

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As a full time working mother of 2 young children Jane Garnsey, understands the importance of being able to work flexibly so that you can balance all the needs of the individuals who rely on you, aswell as yourself!  She really believes that the key to flexible working being a success is honesty and trust, and that comes back to the culture of the organisation. 

Jane  is an experienced HR professional with extensive experience within the telecommunications industry. Starting her career at employment law consultancy firm, Peninsula, Jane gained a wealth of experience advising both SME and corporate clients on all employee relations subjects. Moving to TalkTalk in 2008 led to Jane building on this, partnering with senior stakeholders across the business. Jane has seen lots of change over her 9 years at TalkTalk. The HR team transformed to become a central HR Shared Service in 2011 and implemented Workday as their core HR system, to name just a couple of projects Jane has led both teams and projects in. Now in the role of People Operations Director,

What were or are the biggest challenges you faced going back in to the work place after children?

The answer to that question really differs whether we are talking about child 1 or 2. With child 1, I was too hung up on what everyone else thought of me for leaving my child in the hands of strangers. I realise that now, with hindsight. The guilt was overwhelming at the time. When I got the dreaded call from nursery to say she wasn’t well, but you’ve just promised one of your team, you would attend a really important meeting with them, the internal conflict was unbearable. I wanted to be a perfect mum, but I also wanted to be really good at my job and advance in my career. Having said all this though, I was really lucky to have a very supportive manager who had 2 children herself and was very helpful in being a role model and showing me you can be both – we don’t have to choose if we don’t want to! I have now been back at work 3 months after being off with child number 2 and I have to say, I am dealing much better with those feelings of guilt and the pressure I put on myself to be all things to everyone. I prioritise. If I have to leave to pick the children up, I do, and I find other times to work. Again, I am really lucky to have a supportive employer and manager who allow me to work flexibly. Their number 1 interest is about my output not the amount of hours I do in a day.

How do you achieve your work life balance of career woman and mother?  

I am a great believer in trying to be ‘present’ in whatever you are doing. If I leave the office at 4pm as I am on nursery pick up that day, it’s so tempting to be looking at my phone during the evening when they are in the bath / eating their supper or whatever, but I really try and say to myself, ‘no, Jane, it’s family time now and work can wait till they are in bed’! Equally if I am away for a night in London, I don’t feel guilty about it, I just make sure, there is an opportunity that weekend to turn my phone off, take them to the park and enjoy the children. I honestly feel that I am a better mother for being at work. I was so ready to go back after 8 months of maternity leave with child no. 2, finally feeling really comfortable with my decision that I am better suited to having a career than being at home with 2 children. The other very important factor in ‘how’ I achieve my work life balance is my husband. He is amazing and I could not do it without him.

If you could give your past self-one piece of advice about being a working mother what would it be? 

Don’t feel guilty. You still have your own identity even when you are a mother and that is ok. 

Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a working mother from that prior to your children?

If anything, it’s made me more determined! I want to be a good role model for my children and having a job that I really love and enjoy every day, I think is good in that respect.

What are your future goals in your career path in the next few years, what do you hope to achieve?

I have just returned from maternity leave into a new role leading the HR Operations teams within TalkTalk and there is lots to do. These are exciting times for TalkTalk and having been with the company for almost 10 years, I am very passionate about everything there is to achieve. So, I really want to make an impact in this over the next couple of years. I am a firm believer in not planning too much and seeing where this could take me!

If you had the power to change one thing in the business market for working mothers, what would you change?

The perception and more opportunities to be trusted and work flexibly as I honestly don’t know how people cope without that.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?   

Establish your ‘metronome’ – the beat of what it is you are trying to achieve. Focus on that and everything else becomes noise around it. That helps keep me focused on the things that matter.

 If you could recommend one book to our readers leisure or business what would it be?

I loved ‘me before you’

Question from previous interviewee  Karen Finlayson Partner at PWC  – What is your favourite pastime with your child/ children

I think I would have to say swimming. I love that both my children are very happy in the water and we always have a great time. Plus an added bonus is no phone so no distraction so totally ‘present’!

What question would you wish to ask our next working mother who takes this short interview?

What strategies do you employ to ‘switch off’ from work?

Read more inspiring interviews from lots of inspirational women including a few famous faces, click here

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