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How can women get to the top? Think “flexibility”!
When Michael Page recruiter Melanie Wallace-Smith became a Director, she cemented her position as a leader within the company. Her career path demonstrates that the key to success is building a professional future in a business that values flexibility and a work-life balance.
Has your career been a destination or more of a journey?
A journey – and one that has been pretty fluid for me! I started my career in Melbourne as a consultant, and then moved to Adelaide. There I had the role of Business Manager, so I developed accounts and won new ones. After two and a half years, I returned to Melbourne where I managed a team for three years, before taking maternity leave.
I have always really enjoyed managing a team and consulting, however when I came back to work part-time in 2016, it was challenging to excel at both. Becoming a Director was something I had thought about for a long time after working across different markets for 10 years, so I was thrilled when it happened.
Did you have any reservations about taking on a senior role given your commitments?
Not at all. As my daughter is now two, I have finally found the perfect balance of working and personal life. I am back on full-time hours – and getting a full night’s sleep again, which has made all the difference! It took me a while to get the balance right, but now I have, I am ready to take on challenges.
Has dynamic working helped you manage your career and enjoy your family life?
It has been essential. Ultimately, it allows me to be there for important family activities and to give my clients and candidates the same service I have always provided to them. In fact, my level of service is better as I often log on at night-time – because I have the flexibility I need.
What challenges might some women face when managing a career and family life?
You have to have trust from your manager and leadership team. Without this, there is a major challenge.
Your manager should be open to embracing small changes such as flexible working hours, job sharing, less employee management, or even working with a different market. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer to see whether there is flexibility in your current role, rather than simply changing for something ‘easier.’
What are your top five tips for maintaining a work-life balance?
- Remote working: this allows you to work unusual hours and in different locations, meaning you can drop off children, do bath time, read books and get all your work done.
- Be highly organised: make to-do lists for your daily work. Follow them and go home when they are finished!
- Have dedicated family time: I don’t work Fridays or weekends which are always set aside for family.
- Work smarter: I work from the moment I arrive until the moment I leave – no wasted time at work to ensure less time at home working.
- Manage expectations: you can’t always do the hours you used to – so long as you are doing your best and managing your time and expectations you are doing enough!