Nicola MacDonald-Dodin not only works remotely for IT firm Kloud, but she commutes from France.
The company’s Global Development Director, who has four children, lives in Lyon and travels to the UK once a month for meetings and commutes regularly to Paris where the company have an office.
She is proof of how technology is making different ways of working possible to the benefit of both employer and employees.
Nicola has worked for Kloud for five years. The company operates a remote working model which has allowed it to expand fast to meet demand for its product Workday, enterprise-level cloud-based software solutions for financial management and human resource.
Nicola came to Kloud after taking a six-year career break to look after her children. She gave up work reluctantly because her husband was away for two to three months at a time. “I found it quite hard. I missed my professional identity and the social aspects of work,” she says.
Her husband is French and she moved to France soon after she got married. She was working as an IT consultant from France, commuting back and forth even when she was pregnant with twins. Four years after the twins she had her third son so she had three children under five.
Two years later the family moved back to England and stayed for three years. Nicola had kept up her work relationships during her break, but says her confidence had taken a blow after six years out of the workplace. “I imagined everything had moved on,” she said. When she moved back she let people know she was in the UK. She had worked with the Kloud founders as a consultant before and they asked her if she wanted to work with them again. She started as a consultant and quickly found that all her skills remained the same and it wasn’t so hard to get back in the swing of things
She was then offered a role in marketing as the company began to grow and was in at the start of creating the brand. It’s a job she really enjoys. “It was a fantastic opportunity. We had a blank piece of paper. It was a massive learning curve for me, but I think I brought something different to the role because I had been a consultant. It can make you more credible,” she says.
She used her network of contacts and helped to grow the business fast.
Nicola says technology has been “priceless” for working parents like her and she backs Kloud’s remote working model all the way. “I could not do 9-5 in an office,” she says. “Flexible working works both ways. If I have to take a child to the doctor, I will work later in the evening.”
She and her family moved back to France to Lyon in 2012. She had been working four days a week before she went on maternity leave with her fourth child. She asked if she could come back on two days a week. “My boss said whatever you can manage is a bonus,” she says. When her daughter started nursery Nicola increased her hours to three and a half a week. The half day is because French schools finish at lunchtime on a Wednesday.
Nicola’s job involves quite a lot of travel and she is away from home around five days a month. She visits the UK once a month and also manages the Paris office which is a two-hour train journey away. However, she tries to minimise the impact of any time away to one night at at a time. That can mean a 4am start and a very intensive day of meetings, but it’s a price she’s willing to pay not to miss too much of family life. Nicola also uses a Regus office near her home so she gets away from the house.
She says her children, now aged 12, seven and three, are more autonomous and organised as a result of her working. “It has empowered them,” she says. Her husband helps out with picking up the children from school and nursery. He also has August off which is useful since the school summer holidays last two months.
Kloud has recently been acquired by a global consulting business. “We’ve moved from being a company with 75 employees to one with 66,000,” says Nicola. Kloud employees’ terms and conditions have remained the same, which includes their remote working model. “It’s so much a part of our DNA,” she says.
*Picture credit of Lyon: David Monniaux and Wiki Commons.