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Lucy Hazell combines interim management with having three young children.
I have a successful interim career but have had to set clear boundaries to keep my work and family life in balance.
I have been an interim for six years. I am an engineer by profession, worked for eight years in the chemical industry then moved to Arthur D Little as a management consultant. I chose the interim path after having my first child – I was looking for a way to combine family life with a nevertheless rewarding and challenging career.
I now have three young children. Working is an essential part of my life and I am committed to my career, but like everyone, my life is multi-faceted and work needs to fit with this. On the one hand, I want to have breakfast with my kids as often as possible, make it to the school playground occasionally and yes, even be around for some of the
tantrums! On the other hand, if I did not work, I would go insane. I have therefore managed to develop a model that works for me.
My golden rules are these: firstly, to know my boundaries, and stick to them. In my case that means not staying away from home for more then 2-3 days a week, and working from my home office whenever possible.
Secondly (and crucially), I am always crystal clear with recruiters and clients regarding these boundaries. Of course, it’s also rather important to emphasise what I can do as well as what I can’t. For example, I often travel overseas, I can work long hours, and I am willing to call Japan at 2am every night for a week if needed! It’s simply a matter of lateral thinking, and if a client is willing to be flexible with me, I need to be flexible in return.
Not every client or assignment lends itself to this model. I have to work hard to find the “right” opportunities and occasionally find myself turning down work, or not being invited for interview in the first place. However I do take full responsibility for my situation, do not ask for any favours and only put myself forward for work that I know I
can handle just as well as, if not better than, anyone else. I usually find that if I am straight, honest and transparent with clients from the outset, and go on to deliver what they need, I can quickly gain trust and respect, and in the end, they often really don’t care where I am!