Sidelined for going part time? Ask the expert

I have been a IT project manager for the past seven years, and in the seven years, I have gained a work qualification and have had two beautiful children. After the first child I went back full time and then after my second child I’ve now gone back part time (3 days from 5 days). Since being back the company has been taken over by an American company and so much has changed. I have been told that I am unable to apply for a director’s role due to being part time. Therefore I feel I have no future in this company. All that I feel I can do in this company is gain knowledge on the vast programmes that are being run. I have thought about having a 1-2-1 with my manager (senior director) to discuss my career, but am not sure how this will come across…. what do I do, I am hungry for the responsibility and want to further my career, but a few friends keep telling me I can’t have it all at least until my children start secondary school!  What do I do in order to have job satisfaction and career development? I know the company has been really good to me by allowing me to reduce my hours, but feel I should not be punished for this! Please advise….

Boardroom table


My first question is who told you that as a part-timer you couldn’t apply for a director’s role; and what role does he / she fill in your company?
If the person doesn’t belong to your company, then take very little notice of the advice.  You’ll realise I’m saying ignore your friends’ advice, too, because they don’t know enough about your value as an employee nor about your company’s employment practices.  If the person offering advice isn’t in charge of your UK company’s policy and / or recruitment to Director level posts, then the opinion they’ve given may not reflect that of the Board of Directors.

Similarly, if it’s an opinion offered by an executive from the American parent, that person may not be aware of the UK’s cultural and legal differences from the States.  I’m no lawyer, but I think as a parent with very young children, you’re entitled to ask your company to offer you part-time work in posts at any level (including that of Managing Director!) and there’s more than enough case law to discourage UK-based HR Directors from putting legally unjustifiable obstacles in the way of mums’ promotion opportunities.

Your best bet, though, is to think like your company MD and work out how you’d be able to fill the Director’s role to perfection even though you work part-time.  Ask yourself why might the company expect to benefit from having full-time rather than  part-time Directors?  How real is the perceived advantage of having a full-time Director?  Would having two part-timers in the role be even more advantageous to them?  Prepare your case well and then have a discussion with your company’s top management concerning your ambitions to be a Director and the particular benefits the company would enjoy from recruiting you (and partner if necessary) into the role.

I think you’ll become resentful and disengaged if you don’t take any action at this stage to progress your career further.  You may harm your longterm career prospects if you allow yourself to be left behind in your twenties and thirties.  Also, there is potentially much to be learnt career-wise from working at Director level in a company newly taken over by an overseas parent.


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