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Kay Ball, head of sales at Pitchup.com, found her job on Workingmums.co.uk. She talks to us about her experience.
Employers are missing a trick if they don’t take on working mums with years of experience, says Kay Ball, head of sales of Pitchup.com, an online booking site for caravanning and holiday parks.
She knows what she’s talking about since many of Pitchup.com’s staff are working mums. She herself took four years out to look after her children and has risen from a sales job to head of sales in just a couple of years.
Kay decided to take a break to look after her children after having worked in a leading recruitment firm and gone freelance following her children’s births. Unlike a lot of mums, she took a break after her two children had started school and says she found that harder to manage than finding care for them when they were little. “There are the school holidays to work out and I just wanted to be there to pick them up after school,” she says.
When she took the break she had intended to remain a full time mum because she didn’t think she could do both a job and be a mum. “I didn’t think there was a job where I could work from home and do the school run. If I had known there was I would not have taken a career break,” she says. After four years, though, she felt the balance was not right for her and that she needed to get back to work. “I was really ready to go back to work,” she says. “I was climbing the walls. It wasn’t that I was bored. There was lots to do, but I just wasn’t using a part of my brain I wanted to. I thought I would be a better mum if I was working and a better wife.”
However, she was sceptical she could find a job which would be flexible enough for her needs.
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She started looking for work and Workingmums.co.uk was the first site she looked at. She saw the sales job advertised for Pitchup.com and that was the only job she applied for. It was home-based, which was more than she had hoped for.
Her confidence, however, was low after so long off work. “You forget you were ever good at something before you had children. You question whether you can still do it and you feel technology has moved on so much,” she says.
However, within a short time, she realised she could do it. “You quickly realise who that part of you is,” she says. “It’s just that initial leap of faith you need to take.”
In fact, Kay had had a fairly high-flying career in recruitment. An Oxbridge graduate, Kay had worked mainly for the recruitment company Michael Page in Manchester.
She was part of a small team who moved to the US to set up the firm’s US office and she lived there for three years. On her way back to the UK she took some time off to travel with her husband and became pregnant. She decided to go freelance, working part time in recruitment-related jobs while her children, now aged 11 and 12, were small, but says when her husband was away it was stressful feeling that she was always rushing to get back in time to pick her children up from childcare.
When she joined Pitchup.com two and a half years ago, the site had just started up. She says the team are very friendly and supportive and all she needed to get going was a laptop and headset.
Kay works two to three days a week. Although Pitchup.com’s busy time is in the summer holidays, she says working part time and from home makes it easier to manage.
As the firm was so young and growing, opportunities soon opened up for Kay. The company needed a bigger sales team. Because Kay’s background was in recruitment she was asked to recruit the team she now manages as head of sales – three UK-based sales people and one lady in France.
“It has worked well for both parties,” she says, adding that the majority of Pitchup.com’s staff are working mums working from home. “They have really embraced flexible working and it works for them,” she says. “Our team is really conscientious and because they work from home there are not so many distractions as in the office. I really feel businesses who do not explore the opportunities and potential of working mums are missing a trick. There is so much talent around.”
She adds: ”Some businesses are worried about homeworking because they feel people will be less productive, but my experience is that you get more bang for your buck with homeworkers. In any event technology makes things so transparent these days so you cannot coast.”