Taylor Root is proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2017. As part of this we interviewed Sarah Ingwersen, Partner in Taylor Root's London office. Sarah heads up the Commerce and Industry team, and one of three female Partners at The SR Group.
What would your advice be to women who are trying to achieve their career ambitions?
Find a mentor! (This is also recommended in Lean In). It doesn’t need to be a formal arrangement, but align yourself with a more senior women in a similar industry or at least someone who understands the journey you are undertaking. I have had one for the past ten years (and she didn’t even know it until recently!) and we meet up regularly to discuss a whole range of issues, work and non-work related. I get a great deal of insight and guidance from her but I think if I had asked her to be my mentor from the start this would have put undue pressure on the situation.
How do you achieve work life balance?
1) Ruthlessly prioritise during my day job. I try and have short meetings, limit emails to a few lines (no-one likes long messages!) and deal with emails on the go so that (ideally!) everything is dealt with before I leave at the end of each day.
2) Be comfortable with saying ‘no’ (whilst trying to be as accommodating as possible!). It’s not physically possible to do everything in a shorter working day and by pushing back I have given myself more headspace to focus on the things that matter; my clients, my candidates and my team. The rest can wait!
3) Realise that family comes first and I’m not performing brain surgery. Our industry is often time critical so I will make myself available as much as possible out of hours but I have black-out periods that I am now comfortable about enforcing.
4) Choose the right company. I am extremely fortunate in that I work for a very supportive and parent-friendly company and have a great degree of flexibility since returning from maternity leave.
If senior management within your industry or sector is historically weighted towards males, have you noticed any changes in the last several years?
Yes absolutely. We have promoted two female partners within the past 12 months and have improved the ratio of female to male leaders at the Director and Manager level, which is a significant increase from a number of years ago. Our HR department have developed a successful mentoring scheme (for all consultants) and where possible we pair female consultants with other women in leadership positions within the business so they can share their knowledge and be a sounding board for issues outside of their day-to-day role. I also meet up with all women returning from maternity leave in their first month to help them transition back and let them know that whilst it’s an adjustment returning to normal working life, there is a support network there and an understanding in our company about the challenges of being a working parent.