Want to know more about #TeamStory? Over the next few months, we will be profiling each member of the team – this is where you learn who is the closet rockstar, who knows all the words to the Paw Patrol theme song (if you know, you know), who prefers Scotch and who likes nothing more than a bit of quilting after a long day at the office.
In celebration of International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #pressforprogress, this month we kick off with newbie, account director Ruth Follows… We sat down with Ruth for a chinwag on all things flexible working, equality in the workplace and what a typical day looks like for the working mum extraordinaire.
Things you can’t leave home without: My bag (aka the kitchen sink)
Favourite food: Good old-fashioned fish and chips
Favourite read: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Pet hate: Lack of empathy in others
Morning routine: Peel child from cot and give milk, hastily drink coffee amidst getting ready, help husband finish getting daughter ready (he is not burdened by a beauty routine!), make smoothie/grab food for day, attempt to exit house without forgetting any necessary items, drop child at nursery, head into work and try not to look too frazzled.
What attracted to join Team Story?
I saw Story as becoming part of the fabric of Birmingham – an agency equally excited by the city’s destination status and devolutionary agenda.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Story?
The team. Supportive, energised and hungry for success – but with a necessary hint of mischief.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
My grandad was related to Cary Grant, who starred in many of the early Hitchcock films.
In your experience, what challenges do new mums face when returning to the workplace?
Where do I start?
Firstly, balancing the number one priority in your life with a career that’s also important to you. Not many employers support you in that, but I have been very lucky.
Secondly, the all-too-common lack of foresight and flexibility employers show in not considering employing women with a fantastic career and CV, but who have childcare responsibilities. There’s a wealth of efficient, highly-skilled, loyal talent out there who aren’t in the job market because the market has told them they don’t fit the old model.
And, finally, guilt. If you’re managing to spend enough time with kids, you feel you’re not putting in enough at work, and vice versa. They don’t teach any of this in antenatal classes!
How difficult is it to achieve a work-life balance as a working mum?
Difficult, but less so if you have the backing of a supportive employer and are confident enough to be assertive, organised and structured during your hours at work. I work three days a week and feel I have a good balance. This means when extra time is needed, I can be in early, or arrange childcare if there’s an essential project or big pitch on.
What are the benefits of flexible working (for employee and employer)?
For the employer, you have a happier, more loyal workforce. They will go further for you, giving you more by virtue of what you have given them.
For the employee, it’s about being able to put your all into your career, while having time to do the other things in your life that complete a picture of good wellbeing.
Describe a typical day in your role as an account director?
Currently, I’m very focused on ‘Project Story’ – operations, HR and processes/standards. It’s been a fast road to growth for the agency, so I’m looking forward to setting up the foundations that ready us for the future.
Have your career/life goals changed since becoming a working mum?
Not at all. I’m still Ruth Follows, with the same aspirations across my home life, career and hobbies. It’s just more of a juggling act with a new top priority – but I think maintaining a sense of yourself is really important.