May 26, 2020

Redster Working Mums

by Aalastair Sibley in News

We’re celebrating and shedding a spotlight on some Redster working mums, to acknowledge National Maternal Month. They share their insights around bossing it at home and in the workplace:

NUALA O’NEILL – CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR

Do you have a work or leadership philosophy?

You can do anything, but not everything.

Do you have a favourite book on women in leadership and/or the workplace?

Michelle Obama’s book Becoming was one of my favourite books last year. I love anyone who’s real and honest in their struggles and successes.  

Is there another working mother you take inspiration from? Why?

That’s a tough one. Personally, I’m inspired by any mum (or dad) who works whilst raising a family because it’s a big juggle. So many working mums before us paved the way and fought hard for flexible working and I’m very lucky to be reaping the benefits and working for a business that sees the advantages of flexible working.

However, if I had to name an individual it would be my mum. She didn’t work full time when we were growing up, but I suppose she did her own version of flexible working. My mum and dad would tag team their working days, so that one of them was always with us, whilst the other went out to work. Sometimes that meant my mum worked evenings and weekends, but it meant that I’ve always seen flexible working in action, it’s just evolved to where we are now.  

Can you share a story where your role as a mother and senior leader collided?

When Erin was six months old and still breastfeeding, I was asked to attend a client meeting out of town (using my KIT days). The only way I could make the meeting was for Erin to come with me – with my own mum – and do the round trip. So sure enough, that’s what we did – my mum, Erin and I went on a train to Newcastle. I sat in the client meeting, whilst my mum pushed Erin around a business park… I’m sure my mums had better days. But they do say it takes a village to raise a child!

How did you find returning to work post baby?

Anyone who says returning to work after having a child is easy, is LYING! It’s hard and you feel every single feel. There’s the guilt of leaving your child, juggling pick up and drop off, as well as the guilt you feel when you leave the team early because your child is ill (they ALWAYS get ill when you first return to work!). You also think the world has changed so much since you’ve been off – it really hasn’t. Once you get over these little bumps in the road, you get into a groove and it all becomes a little easier.

Flexible working is on the rise, giving employees flexibility on where, when and the hours they work. Can you talk to the value you put in flexible working?

Flexible working is invaluable – it’s the reason I’m able to be a mum to Erin, but also still be in a career I love. Being a mum means I now have two jobs – motherhood and PR but both jobs are always on, you can’t clock on and clock off! It’s about finding the right balance for you, your family, your team and your clients. One size doesn’t fit all, it’s working all schedules so they marry up as best they can – they’re never perfect.

What are your favourite things to do with your family after work or on the weekend?

Our weekends are always jam packed, whether that’s visits to family and friends, walks, bike rides, swimming or day trips to the zoo. We also have every meal together, which is such a lovely thing to do on a weekend, and something we don’t get to do in the week as there’s always some frantic rush from one of us.

Do you have anything else to add on motherhood?

I genuinely believe that motherhood has made me better at my job. You don’t sweat the small stuff as much, but you also become super-efficient and you realise that the key to survival is military diary management.

CLAIRE QUANSAH – OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

Do you have a favourite #bosslady moment?

I’m not sure I really see myself as bosslady!

What’s your favourite quote that motivates you?

It’s not specific to working motherhood but my favourite quote is Nelson Mandela’s saying “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” It reminds me of the importance of understanding something from the other person’s perspective and trying to speak in their language. I think this is important for our line of work and for being a mother.

Do you have a favourite movie or book on women in leadership and/or the workplace?

I LOVE Miranda Priestly in Devil Wears Prada. I don’t follow her leadership style, but her levels of confidence are through the roof.

Also, as Nuala mentioned, Michelle Obama – I haven’t even finished her book yet! But just knowing she took a baby to a job interview speaks a lot to the importance of self-worth, confidence and not hiding the fact you are a mother.

Is there another working mother you take inspiration from? Why?

Sounds very cheesy, but I’m inspired by my own mother, the hardest working woman I’ve ever met. She’d always tell us not to be intimidated by superficial things like possessions, a title or an accent and that has stuck with me. I very rarely feel intimidated by people and I think that’s important when working in PR.

Can you share a funny story where your role as a mother and senior leader collided?

There have been a fair few times I’ve had to bring a child into the office or gone into my bag to get a notebook and pulled out a sock or a Paw Patrol toy.

How did you find returning to work post children?

It can be quite daunting to find your confidence when you’ve not had to deal with clients or colleagues for a year, but making the most ‘Keep in Touch Days’ does help, so that you know what’s happening across the business. I’d say I definitely found my return to work much easier second time around.

Can you talk to the value you put in flexible working?

Personally, flexible working has meant I am able to progress my career and still be present for my children, which reduces a lot of ‘mum guilt’. I can attend assemblies, sports days, nativities, but still meet the needs of the agency and my clients. It can be hard juggling everything, but it allows me to always focus on the task in hand. I do think that flexible working needs to be embraced more across the whole industry. Not just for mothers but for everyone, we all have lives and commitments outside of work.

What are your favourite things to do with your family after work or on the weekend?

We love baking and eating…Pretty much anything food related.