Managing a media career as a single parent

Managing a media career as a single parent

Clare Passfield, Talon's head of international, on responding to workplace challenges, balancing a heavy workload and being a single mum

At Talon we are privileged to work within a community of talented people that trust, respect and value difference. It is well documented that a diverse workplace is the most effective, and we benefit from flexible working and an excellent management structure.

We constantly strive to make Talon the best place to work and were ranked 9th place in the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Small Companies to Work for 2016. We were also awarded a three-star accreditation from engagement specialists Best Companies, who described our levels of employee engagement as "Extraordinary".

As a single mum to a gregarious eight year old, running the International team at Talon can prove somewhat interesting. Living in Windsor and working full time near Oxford St (and always at breakneck speed) I am truly grateful for my inherent high energy level and passion for my job, industry, and the company I am part of.

Utilising skills such as Networking aids us all throughout work undeniably, but at school where you don't get the "playground exposure" due to simply not being there as often, it’s not always so easy and accessible within the non-work side of my life.

I know (and now accept) I can't make every school run, assembly or cake sale, and likewise I’m unable to make every brain-storm or social occasion with the guys at work.

For me, it’s all about being positive and authentic thus (hopefully) ensuring equilibrium wherever possible. I do feel lucky and blessed, but I work bloody hard in doing so.

With support from a great team, as a consequence, I never feel guilty. I accept and enjoy evening and weekend working (some of my best work is conducted late in my pyjamas) and by ensuring that what needs delivering, simply gets done. I certainly couldn't achieve any of this without an incredibly hard work ethic and the culture here at Talon.

Unfortunately it’s all too clear from the lack of senior Women in Business representation that the reasons many Woman don't (or can't) return to work includes less than favourable work patterns, perceived peer judgement, and that a few years adrift from the pressurised "climb to the top" can put them at a disadvantage which they would rather avoid.

It is as much about culture and unconscious bias as it is to do with more physical barriers such as maternity leave.

The skills required in a world that is increasingly social by its very nature play perfectly into the strong skills that women generally bring to the table – collaboration, partnership, teamwork. Thus I think there should naturally be a focus on nurturing this talent.

An organisation’s willingness to find ways to make things work for ALL talented people - whatever their gender, life stage or personal challenges - plays a big role in accommodating the diverse and ever changing world we are in.

Organisations that appreciate and work with their employees will invariably retain and grow their pool of talent. With regards to women in particular, however, this is sadly still too often lacking.

Being a single Parent and a Woman in business is of course at times tiring, but moreover is immensely rewarding. I most definitely have the best of both worlds and as Omnicom Media Group UK’s inspirational Chief Marketing Officer Sam Phillips says: "You are capable of more than you know" (or was that Glinda the good witch from the Wizard of Oz?).

Hard work and authenticity should be recognised in the right environment and it is to be cherished and amplified wherever possible.

I am equally driven by the sentiment of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, quoted probably too many times now but for good reason.

I too decided LAWFI (lean all the way the fuck in). The process I went through was to take a bird’s eye view of my life and think, "I am the only person that my daughter can depend on and as her role model I am going to work hard no matter what. I can either work my hardest to push my career as far as I can or I can work hard and stretch myself thin without getting anywhere."

Unsurprisingly I decided on the former and I’m blessed to do it in a company, and increasingly an industry that truly supports that ethos.

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