Laura Hinton Working Mother Interview
LAURA HINTON TAKES OUR WORKING MUM INTERVIEW
Laura is a member of PWC’s UK Executive Board and the Chief People Officer, responsible for setting and delivering the People Strategy across the UK Firm. She is also a Partner within PwC’s People and Organisation Practice, where she works with FTSE100 clients across a number of sectors to advise on culture change, workforce transformation and performance management.
It’s a role that is full of variety, with the opportunity to meet amazing people and learn from them everyday. No two days are ever the same, or dull!
When not at work Laura spends her time relaxing with her husband Brett and daughter Liberty aged 10 and Freddie aged 7 who bring balance and perspective to life.
What were or are the biggest challenges you faced going back into the work place after children?
I’m incredibly lucky, and have fantastic support at home as my husband is a stay-at-home Dad. This meant that I didn’t have to face the common challenges of juggling childcare and making logistics work. It also allowed me return to work without a feeling of guilt as I knew the children were with their Dad and very happy. I did, however, have huge empathy for my husband who found the transition to being at home far more challenging than either of us had expected. I would often run out of the house to catch a train, leaving him to total chaos with two young children, and I struggled with that for a while. There were also a few more practical challenges, such as the inevitable bugs / colds / sickness illnesses that young children get and are generous enough to pass onto their parents. I felt as if I had a constant cold for about two years where I existed in a fog of tiredness and illness – and that made it difficult being totally effective at work. Thankfully, those days are well behind me as the children are now 10 and 7.
How do you achieve your work life balance of career woman and mother?
I’m really clear on my boundaries and have a great team around me at work, and at home, who help me find the right balance. I’m try not to weekends as a routine and always protect my holidays to avoid last minute cancellations and disappointments. I think it’s important to find the right equilibrium, but not to put too much pressure on yourself to be super-human. I have realised I do not yet have the power of time travel (!), so I need to plan well around important events at home and work to make sure I am in the right place at the right time. It’s not always easy, but I’ve learnt that I have been my own worst enemy in the past in trying to be all things to all people and that’s not possible.
If you could give your past self-one piece of advice about being a working mother what would it be?
Relax and try to enjoy it – don’t try to be a super hero. I’ve learnt that it’s OK to ask for help and support and that people are very willing to give advice and share their own experiences of how to make things work. It’s been a really interesting journey for me as I’ve realised that showing more of myself as a human being and mother, rather than just a professional, really helps to build stronger relationships with my team and my clients.
Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a working mother from that prior to your children?
If anything, I think I have bigger career goals and aspirations now, than I did before having children. I have a 10 year old daughter and believe in the power and significance of strong female role models. She is really proud of what I have achieved and is very interested in my professional life and the amazing experiences I am privileged to have as a result of my career.
What are your future goals in your career path in the next few years, what do you hope to achieve?
I am very aware that this role gives me a strong voice and a platform to make a difference on issues that really matter to me, my business, and society more generally. I am passionate about the diversity agenda, whether that is gender, ethnicity, social background, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation. Valuing differences leads to better outcomes for our clients as well as our people and I would really like to make a difference by leading the debate within PwC and beyond. I believe that this is an issue where business should work together to make the changes necessary to level the playing field for our children and the generations after them.
If you had the power to change one thing in the business market for working mothers, what would you change?
I would ensure that the business world really embraces the concept of ‘everyday flexibility’ and we can redefine work as being an ‘activity’ rather than a ‘place’. I think we can put too much emphasis on rules and policy around flexible working when it is really about trust and mindset.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?
“Be yourself, as everyone else is taken”. I think there’s so much power in authenticity, diversity and confidence and it’s not sustainable to be successful based on who you think you should be, rather than who you really are.
If you could recommend one book to our readers leisure or business what would it be?
Fractured by Dani Atkins. Pure escapism, with a real twist. Perfect beach reading.
Question from previous interviewee. Question From Jane Garnsey – People Operations Director, Talk Talk – What strategies do you employ to ‘switch off’ from work?
My best strategy is to tell my children what we are going to do and make promises to them – that way there is no way I can get away with letting them down! They are also pretty good at making sure I’m really present – no phones allowed.
What question would you wish to ask our next working mother who takes this short interview?
Who inspires you, and why ?