Honing talent through a job share

Two puzzle pieces


Visa in Europe has been through significant transformation over the past two years since it was acquired by Visa Inc in 2016. As a global payments technology company it is keen to attract outstanding talent and is broadening its hiring net to do so, looking at new talent pools and introducing more modern ways of working.

“We are on a hiring drive and looking for exceptional talent which means tapping into talent pools many employers miss,” says Vicki Mawson, Director of Talent at Visa in Europe. Her role is a case in point. Vicki shares her post with Pippa Edwards,  meaning Visa has the experience of two high-achieving individuals to draw on.

When the company was advertising the post of Director of Talent, Pippa, who was a Talent Manager at Visa in Europe, was interested in the role, but was keen not to work full time. She spoke to her manager who said: “Have you considered a job share?” “In that one sentence everything changed for me,” says Pippa who has four children. “I started to believe I could have my cake and eat it.” The role is the next step up the rung for her as it encompasses talent acquisition, management and development.

The Chief HR Officer, Bill Ingham, who is passionate about gender diversity, said he would consider both full time and job share applicants for the role.

Vicki was working full time as the Talent Acquisition Director at L’Oréal and was on maternity leave after having her third child when she was headhunted for the Visa job. She had been at L’Oréal for almost 14 years, was ready for a new career adventure but needed more flexibility in order to continue to have a fulfilling career and be the type of mum she wanted to be.

Leap of faith

Neither Vicki nor Pippa knew of anyone else in a senior job share and both were very excited by the prospect of sharing the role, although it felt like a leap of faith. The two met up once before being offered the role and hit it off immediately.  “We had an unsaid understanding of the challenges ahead, both personally and professionally, and were keen to learn from each other’s experiences. It felt very natural,” says Vicki.

Before the role began they met a few times to discuss logistics, such as how to split the scope of the role and whether to have a joint mailbox – and they opted to divide the role according to their differing expertise. They each work three days per week with Wednesdays being their crossover day.

Vicki and Pippa believe that having the right two people for a job share is vital. They say they cannot think of an occasion where they have disagreed with each other on decisions taken. They say having two people doing the role means they can bounce ideas off each other and share the challenges, which means they are more self-sufficient. “There is great comfort in someone else having my interests at heart as we are both measured by the same objectives,” says Vicki.

Another key element in their success has been having management support and the Visa CEO, Charlotte Hogg, is highly supportive and passionate about diversity and casting the net wide to find and hone exceptional talent.

“Many employers think it is easier to just have one person doing a job. There is still a lot of work to do to change mindsets,” says Pippa. “A job share should not be seen as a compromise. The benefits are so great. Two heads definitely are better than one.” They add that the additional cost can put off companies, but in fact employers are getting so much more than one person. Vicki says: “You get a depth of expertise that you would not have with one person when you consider our combined years of experience.”

How it works

The job share partners admit there have been challenges, such as managing expectations and educating people to see them as one role rather than two separate people.  In fact, some of their colleagues now occasionally mistake them for each other which they think shows that they have blended well.

Both are fairly flexible about their hours and check emails on the days they are not working, Neither is contactable by the office on their days off, except by their job share partner, and, given both are mums, they totally understand that the one who is off duty may have children in the background. Vicki’s children are aged five, three and two. Pippa has a seven year old, a six year old and three-year-old twins. Both have supportive partners and nannies to help with childcare. They also have a very strong team around them.

In addition to checking emails on their days off so they are up to speed, Pippa and Vicki do a handover at the end of the week and on Wednesdays which they hope eventually to reserve for strategising. Both say the job share is extremely positive.

They are now keen to get the message out to other employers who may be considering job shares. “We have a big sense of responsibility to make it work for women generally and to show it can be done,” says Pippa.

She adds: “Before I thought my career was capped, that I would have to make a choice between working part time and having a career. I had come to accept that that was the reality, but Bill showed that I could have both and that was so powerful. So many women should have that opportunity and not have to make that choice.”

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