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Tori Al-Shaikhly talks about her role as New Business Sales Manager at Workingmums.co.uk.
Workingmums.co.uk was set up in 2006 by Gillian Nissim to act as a bridge between professionals looking for flexible new jobs and employers looking to attract an experienced, talented pool of candidates. Since then it has grown to be the number one jobs and community site for professional working mothers. It has over 320,000 registered users and works with thousands of employers. It also now offers advice, support and inspiration to those looking to set up their own businesses and franchises. Workingmums.co.uk is a fully flexible employer. It operates as a virtual business so everyone in it works remotely and with various degrees of other flexibility. We wanted to give you an inside view of how it works and who the people are behind the website. This week we have New Business Sales Manager Tori Al-Shaikhly.
What do you do at Workingmums?
I am one of two New Business Sales Managers working with our self-employed and SME advertisers, alongside my colleague Jemma Henson. I research and source new business from clients with less than 500 employees, working with them to maximise their successes on our site – whether that is for immediate recruitment, long-term campaigns or promoting their employer brand. I also work with our clients who post adverts directly through our website, making sure they are using us to best effect, offering advice on how to best present their opportunities and ensuring long-term relationships. Jemma and I are also working on new business areas to develop – identifying and targeting new revenue streams and areas we think will be the best fit for our audience.
What's the best thing about your job?
I love what we stand for as a company and truly believe in the difference flexible working makes to businesses as well as employees. We have a fantastic team, and as the newest mum, I’ve been offered so much advice from my colleagues; I know they understand, as they’ve all been there and done it! I don’t take for granted how incredibly lucky I am to have that support in the workplace.
How long have you worked there?
This is my second stint at WorkingMums! I returned in June after two years away, having first worked here in 2010-2012.
What motivated you to apply to Workingmums?
The first time I worked here I was the only non-mum; I always found it baffling why women seemed to be sidelined once they became mothers whereas the same isn’t true for fathers, and I leapt at the opportunity to work for a company who were trying to do something about it. It also completely perplexed me why a company wouldn’t actively encourage its employees to have a life outside of work and support this through flexible working arrangements – whether that’s parenthood, charity work, sport, further study, whatever you personally find fulfilling!
This time round I’m a mum myself, and having worked through my pregnancy for a large corporation, the opportunity to work flexibly was something I had a whole new appreciation for! It was very obvious very quickly that there would be no opportunity to work anything less than full time with my previous employer, despite having a wonderful manager who was personally really supportive. Re-joining Workingmums enabled me to return to work when my daughter was four months old but never having to sacrifice being part of her first moments whilst contributing to my family and being able to retain my professional identity – albeit some days in leggings and without make-up. It is a bonus not having to face an office after a disrupted night's sleep!
What did you do before?
I started my career at a graduate careers site, working on online, print and software portfolios with organisations as varied as FTSE 100, SMEs and Universities. I was part of a launch introducing virtual events for students, which was a vertical learning curve and incredibly satisfying. Coming to WorkingMums, I was the Key Account Manager looking after our Top Employer platform and worked extensively on our WorkingMums LIVE events, which I loved. Having firmly caught the events bug, I moved to a large media corporation, working solely on exhibitions – I had my own annual show, but also got to work on site at several others, which was a fantastic experience.
Workingmums is a virtual business. What’s the best thing about homeworking? And the worst?
The best thing is definitely getting back the extra time I used to spend commuting, whether that’s getting some chores done, giving my daughter breakfast or just playing with her – it’s infinitely more pleasant than standing on a crowded platform, pushing onto a packed train and being yelled at to ‘move down inside’! The worst is not being in town to have a cheeky post-work drink and, although I love where I live, I do miss the hustle and bustle sometimes. Only sometimes though!
What are your top tips for homeworkers?
Be disciplined in enforcing your ‘work’ space. Just because I’m in the house doesn’t mean I’m ‘here’, and it’s probably been a bigger adjustment for my husband, getting used to ignoring me while I work. I used to be nice, but now I just close the door!
Where’s your desk?
My desk is in my office upstairs so if I really want that biscuit I have to go down to get it!
What does it look like?
It’s a bit makeshift at the moment as we only moved house a couple of months ago. I have a sofa and bookshelf in there too, which I think balances out the boxes and piles of stuff still to be organised.
How do you stay in touch with colleagues?
Primarily through instant messenger and email and every Monday we have a conference call to set us up for the week. I also talk on the phone, usually several times a day, with Jemma, who does the same role as me.
Do you take a lunch break?
If my daughter’s here then yes, I always make sure I sit down with her – she’s started on solid food, and even though I feel like a lie down by the time we’re done, I wouldn’t change it for the world. If she’s not around then I usually have something at my desk and read the news for 20 minutes to give myself a break.
How often do you see your colleagues?
Not as often as I’d like since we’re all scattered around, but a few times a year for a combination of social and business functions.
How do you avoid isolation?
Having a nine month old, I actually love the quiet time to focus on my tasks and get work done! As I’m in constant communication with my colleagues, I’ve never felt isolated – they’re there to cheer on my successes and pick me up after any disappointments, probably more so than when I was office based as everyone makes such an effort.
What’s your daily routine?
My day starts by 7.30 when I’m up with my daughter – a lot earlier if I’m unlucky and on rare occasions I have the luxury of a lie in! From there I don’t have a set routine as my husband works shifts so depending on whether he’s working or not will determine whether I am. I work 30 hours per week, which includes working at some point nearly every day, but my actual hours change on a weekly basis.
What are your hobbies [if you have time]?
I try to go to yoga when I can, although it’s by no means a regular hobby; I also recently bought a bike so I have high hopes for using that at some point! I’m an avid reader and a few pages after my daughter goes to bed is the perfect escape, although I often have to re-read the previous night’s pages since I’ve constantly lost the plot (pun intended!)
How do you balance work and family life?
Ask me again in 20 years’ time, when I may have worked it out and can give you the benefit of hindsight!
Can you imagine doing an office job in the future?
Not unless it was my office and I could set the rules! More than ever I believe in accommodating the whole person to achieve the best and I couldn’t go back to an environment that viewed me as less for being a mum or expected a robotic workforce. If I’m lucky I’ll be here for a long time.