What is your morning routine?
I actually wrote a blog post on my morning routine, there’s nothing pretty about it!
Tell us about your career path
I’m a career coach. I specialize in working with women and moms. I also work with corporations doing specialty HR services (employee relations, retention and small business HR strategy, and return to work planning).
I started working in children’s programming during University. I ran after-school programs for 60+ kids and summer camp programs for kids 3-12. Little did I know that what I was doing was a lot of HR (hiring, firing, payroll, and employee relations). I did a post-graduate program in human resources and landed my first job at a large healthcare company.
My career path looks pretty linear on the outside but was largely dictated by external factors. My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I graduated from school, which took me to Vancouver. Her death 6 months later made staying in Vancouver hard but I stuck it out for another year until one day I said to my husband – I want to go home. I quit my job the next day and booked plane tickets back to Toronto. We settled in and I got a job as an HR/Return to Work consultant, which I enjoyed immensely. I had 2 children in 2 years and became a strong advocate for working parents. A serious head injury made me take stock of my life and gave me the courage to branch out on my own and start Careerlove. I couldn’t be happier, but there was very little “planning” involved in all of this! 🙂
Now when people ask me how I forged my career path I just smile and ask if they really want to know. Everyone arrives at their destination eventually, it’s the journey that helps you appreciate it when you get there.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
I have spent years doing return to work, working with women on their careers and watching how maternal bias aka “maternal wall bias” exists in just about every industry (as someone who has worked with clients across most industries I have a pretty good overview).
Whether we want to admit it out loud or not – maternal bias exists. Phrases like ‘must be nice to have a 12-month vacation‘ and ‘we are not sure if you will be able to keep up now that you have so much on your plate‘ are still all too prevalent in our society. I have not only witnessed these conversations first hand with others, I’ve also had them said to me.
Women are punished for taking time to raise their children. Women who take less than 12 months are judged and their status as a mother is questioned. Women who take the full 12 months are judged by colleagues and co-workers as not caring as much about their work. It can feel that no matter what choices you are making there is someone who has an opinion about how you are doing it wrong.
I work one on one with clients that are heading back to work and am starting to run webinars and courses on how to negotiate your return to work and how to deal with the initial stress. But most importantly I am starting to work with companies on how to retain their mid and senior level female employees. The numbers are staggering – 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or are off-ramping for a period of time. Yes, they even have a name for it… off-ramping.
There are lots of ways to engage and keep these women. Flexible work arrangements, open discussion, and outsourcing these negotiations and conversations to someone who has the background and understanding to find a solution that is best for both parties. I showed up to a return to work meeting – introduced myself, what I do and how I plan to help, and the returning employee (mom of 1-year-old twins) said, “I was ready to quit. I didn’t have any idea how I could make this work.” By setting up policies and procedures one time and making small tweaks, most companies can eliminate the need for their employees on leave to spend 2 months worrying about how they are going to make this work. Wouldn’t it just be better if companies said, “Ok, 8 weeks before you come back we are going to make a plan and help you come back to us happy and ready to go” ?
If we want to increase the number of female executives and senior managers we need to really focus on not just mentorship and opportunity but helping retain them through these key transition periods.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
It is ok to not have found your PASSION at the age of 24. I didn’t know what that looked like until I was in my 30s. Try different things. Get into new and interesting situations. Your passion (or passions) may be right in front of you but you just didn’t have the chance to try them.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
I have been trying really hard to set boundaries but when you work for yourself, those lines tend to blur. I am lucky to be extremely passionate about two things: my family and my work. I try and make ample space in my life for both of those things. My husband and I decided our family time was a priority for both of us so I have cut out a lot of other activities so that we don’t feel pulled in too many directions.
What inspires you?
My clients inspire me. I am constantly impressed by companies who are trying to do the best for their employees and customers. I am thankful I get to be a part of my coaching clients journey. They are willing to take risks, try new things, and set out on new paths while raising children, caring for ill parents, working full-time jobs, and more often than not, doing all or many of these things at the same.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
Biking, Star Wars, drinks with friends, Star Wars, spending time exploring the city with my family, delighting in the number of people who show up to hang out on my front porch, and most importantly, playing board games like my life depends on it.
In my ample spare time (ah ha ha ha) I run a support group for Food Allergy Canada for parents of kids with Anaphylactic Food Allergies.
Oh, I also really like sleep (whenever I can fit that in there).