Flexible progress

Hilary Soanes talks about how McMillan Williams’ award-winning flexible culture helped her progress her career.

Hilary Soanes joined McMillan Williams Solicitors in 1999. In that time, she has had two children, one of whom has Asperger’s and the other dyslexia. With the support of a flexible culture at the firm she has not only been able to stay at work, but also progress up the career ladder from the managing partner’s secretary to her current role as Head of Integrations.

It was that culture that saw McMillan Williams becoming the first SME to scoop the Overall Top Employer Award at Workingmums.co.uk’s recent Top Employer Awards.

Hilary moved quickly from her secretarial post to a PA role before going on maternity leave with her first child.  She returned on a job share basis in the same position.

Within three years, she was having her second son and whilst pregnant, discovered her eldest son had Asperger Syndrome.  He was due to start his schooling as Hilary was about to return to work after her maternity leave so McMillan Williams agreed that she could work flexibly to suit her circumstances.

Hilary remained in a job share and describes her then manager as “extremely supportive”.  Eventually her manager moved into a different role and Hilary took on the position of Support Services Manager.

Over time, she gained confidence in her role as a working mother and increased her hours to a four-day week.

The most significant change to her working life came after the implementation of cloud-based technology which means she can work from home when necessary.

“For the last four years I have been able to work full-time hours on a flexible basis which allows me to earn a full-time wage without compromising a busy and sometimes challenging home life,” she says.

Hilary’s eldest son is now 12 and her youngest is eight and has dyslexia.

She says her experiences outside of work have helped greatly in her various positions which have always entailed managing a large team of support staff.

With the rapid growth of the practice, Hilary moved to her current role, Head of Integrations.  She works alongside HR to assist with staff changes including recruitment, training and retention.

McMillan Williams has grown significantly and now has over 300 staff.

The firm is undergoing a period of change management and Hilary is very proud that it has managed to retain its flexibility and personal feel despite the expansion.

“There are some very busy and exciting times ahead and being a working mother should always be considered an asset to a firm as demonstrated by the many such members of staff already on board who are achieving great success!”

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