“In late 2016 I decided to take a permanent step down from full-time hours to look after my son, after taking three months of shared parental leave. I think there’s still a fear or a perception that working part-time or taking time off for your kids means you must hit the pause button on your career or even take a step back. I also didn’t think it was fair to just expect my wife to shoulder the burden and impact her own career. Fortunately, my career has continued to progress and I get to spend invaluable time with my son. Win-win. I hope that my story will help show other dads that taking shared parental leave or working part-time, does not mean you have to fall behind in your career.”
Chapter 1: Making time count
I’m Laurie and I’m a Senior Manager in the Employee Benefits Consultancy team. I’ve been with Grant Thornton for nearly eight years now and pretty much everything about the work we do has changed in that time. Before I worked here I was at a different benefits consultancy in London. I now live in Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire, having grown up in Kent.
My family life was quite chaotic growing up. My mum was a single parent and we moved around a lot. I’ve realised in recent years how important it is to me to build a stable foundation in life for my son and any future kids we have. In late 2016, I took a permanent step down from full time hours to look after my son, after taking three months of shared parental leave. I figured I’d never get the chance to spend lots of time with my son in his early years, so it was important for me to be a part of it. I also didn’t think it was fair to just expect my wife to shoulder the burden and impact her own career path.
'My line managers over the last few years have been 100% supportive, which has helped me not to worry about if working part-time would damage my career.'
Chapter 2: Promoting part-time
I was recently promoted to Senior Manager. I spent all my time as a Manager working part-time or on shared parental leave, so it felt so rewarding receiving a promotion. It was a testament to myself that I’ve been able to successfully juggle work and home life in a way that still enabled me to be progress my career. I think there’s still a fear or a perception that working part time, or taking time off for your kids, means you must hit the pause button on your career or even take a step back. Men taking shared parental leave thankfully seems to be becoming more common now, ,but at the time I had to get used to being the only dad in the playgroups!
I keep pushing myself to develop, improve my skills and progress. I like to always look for the next thing we could be doing or what opportunities there are out there to grow – both at work and at home. I’d like to be able to leave the world knowing my kids had all the opportunities they needed to do well and succeed in life. If I were ever to leave Grant Thornton, I’d like to leave my clients and my colleagues in the best possible place they can be.
Chapter 3: Support, support, support
Working part time can be challenging. I have a really great team of colleagues who help stand in for me with any important client meetings or urgent requests, and I’m hugely grateful to them. Personally, I need to be ruthlessly organised and committed to dealing with the urgent things first. I’m also up-front with clients about not being available on Fridays. Most of my client contacts are HR managers, so they are often keen to learn about our flexible working practices.
Grant Thornton’s support has been invaluable. My line managers over the last few years have been 100% supportive, which has helped me not to worry about if working part-time would damage my career. I haven’t been overlooked for any new projects or opportunities. It’s enabled me to build a really strong relationship with my son. He enjoys our Friday’s together – recently we’ve been spending the mornings at a woodland forest school playgroup and he’s loved every minute of it. One of the biggest impacts on our family is that it’s also allowed my wife to keep her career progression on track and not have to step down in responsibility in order to work fewer hours.
In a final twist to this tale, my wife and I recently found out that we are expecting not one, but two more babies – twins! Once more I find myself hugely grateful to work for a supportive employer. I’m certainly going to need it in the coming months.