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Amy Jackson had a toddler and five year old to look after during the early part of lockdown. She not only managed that, but got a new senior job at Metro Bank earlier in the autumn.
Amy Jackson found her new job as Head of Change Delivery Practices at Metro Bank on workingmums.co.uk. She was researching diversity and inclusion issues – in particular around flexible working and working mums – and was on the workingmums.co.uk site when the job came up. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
Amy had spent lockdown working from home with two young children. For some the experience of having to homeschool a five year old while looking after a toddler would have made applying for a new job the last thing they would consider. But Amy felt that, having lived through that, she had proved she could cope with almost anything.
Amy is used to taking on new challenges and stretching herself. She has worked in financial services since she was 18, starting as a contact centre agent at the Woolwich Building Society in what was supposed to be a gap year. She never returned to her studies, finding the work, which included lots of change projects, fascinating and realising she was good at it.
When the Woolwich was taken over by Barclays in 2000, Amy moved to the City, tapping into the bank’s worldwide network. There she worked in various different functions, including as a senior business analyst, as senior project manager for the Woolwich migration, programme manager for the Standard Life migration and portfolio manager responsible for a multi-million pound portfolio of transformation for Barclays Premier. “I really enjoyed change management and that has set my career path,” she says. “There is a lot of structure and discipline involved. I am very organised and I like the interaction involved in change management and, having specialised in mergers and acquisitions, I was used to being involved in all the different facets of change, including integrating different organisations and making things better for people and processes.”
The projects Amy has worked on have usually lasted three to five years and she likes the variety of people she meets working on a project basis. “I like a challenge and change management is always stretching and complex. The reward when you deliver is significant. It’s never like you are standing still and it’s the best place to be when the world is changing at such speed,” she says. She adds that it is also possible to work fairly flexibly within change management.
Amy herself is clearly not afraid of change. She took a year and a half out after her daughter Pearl was born and then moved employer, joining Nationwide. She worked there for nearly five years, first as a programme manager and then as Head of Transformation, a role she took on when she was pregnant with her son, now aged two. She is proud of the fact she took the leap to a more senior role and that she did so while working a compressed week – something that she says opened a few people’s eyes. She feels it is important to show that senior roles can be done flexibly and to encourage more women up the career ladder.
During Covid, with all the extra responsibilities of homeschooling and childcare, which she shared with her husband, who was also working from home, Amy decided to take another leap – to Metro Bank. She started in September and is working five days a week, but flexibly so she can do the school run. She says: “Covid made me realise I was quite strong and that we are able to cope with more than we give ourselves credit for. I thought if I can cope with homeschooling and a 15 month old, I think I can make a success of a new job when both of them are at school or nursery. I felt I could push the boundaries more.” She adds that the fact that she doesn’t have to commute to work every day makes it easier.
Her job as Head of Change Delivery Practices involves thinking about future ways of working, with hybrid working being the most favoured. Amy is interested in how to ensure individual needs and preferences are met and that businesses don’t return to a system where remote workers feel on a different level to people in the office. She says one of the positives of using Teams is that it makes everyone feel more or less on the same level.
Amy says the role at Metro Bank is a “perfect fit” for her because of its emphasis on engagement and its family feel. She interviewed and onboarded virtually, but says the process was the slickest she has experienced and the welcome was very warm. “It felt like Metro Bank had operated like this for ever,” she says. In the first month she has met over 100 change practitioners online and built a good relationship with her peer group and with line managers through online sessions and videos. In any event, she says working remotely is “second nature” for her as she has been managing international teams for years.
She is now planning ahead. While some people might see the lockdown as a chance to slow down and focus on the day to day, for Amy it is an opportunity to prepare for what happens when Covid eases. She says: “Rather than see this as a dip, we want to look forward and outline our vision, engage with colleagues and ensure we take into account what works best for them. We are using this time productively to look back at what we have learnt over the last months and to plan for the future.”