Where are they now? Verity Arndt – Head of Global Marketing Communications, Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

“Being at work makes me a better mum – because I’m a happier and more fulfilled person”

Verity was a global brand communications manager when she became a mother but found the role challenging to sustain, due to the long hours and the amount of international travel.  When she looked to return to work after a couple of years out, she discovered she’d lost confidence in her abilities. TechPixies helped her find her mojo again and her career has taken off stratospherically since completing the course.  As head of global marketing communications with Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science, she’s landed her dream role and, what’s even better, she’s combining it with being a mum by working flexible hours. Read Verity’s guest blog below to find out more about her inspiring journey.

“It was such a wrench to leave my job in London but it was like two worlds colliding after I’d had my children. It was an extremely full-on role with loads of international travel, which just didn’t work with two boys to care for. I did go back for three months after my second baby was born, but it simply wasn’t sustainable. I went through a mourning process when I left as my career is very precious to me and, to some extent, I am defined by my job.

I tried freelancing from home for a while. The work itself was enjoyable but I didn’t like other aspects of being self-employed, such as being my own HR and the accountancy side of things. I really wanted to be part of a team again.

That’s when I met Joy Foster, who’d set up TechPixies. I’d moved to Oxfordshire from London by then and was thinking – who am I, what do I do now, what about me… It was a big lifestyle change!

I took the course as I thought I’d missed out on the digital revolution, as it moves so fast. However, I discovered I was still up to speed. Where the course really helped me was with confidence. I’d been applying for jobs below where I came from, because I’d been worrying about the logistics. Corporate life can be unforgiving and you need at give 100 percent at all times. How does that work, with picking up the kids from school and the like? I wanted to be a good mum too, so I was nervous at re-entering the world of work.

So it was the life coaching element of the course developed by Jess Rogers that worked especially well for me. It helped me challenge my internal negative thoughts about how I’d manage, was I still up to it.  

Women, in particular, worry about all eventualities and about being perfect – and that can hold us back.

When my current role at Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science came up, I just knew it’d be right for me, because I’d regained confidence in my abilities through doing the TechPixies course. I was totally upfront during the interview for the job and told them I’d love to do it but on an 80 percent basis, and they said yes!

That flexibility is great, as it means I leave work at 3pm and can pick the boys up from school. That’s my golden time with my boys – making them tea, doing homework and playing games with them, putting them to bed. It’s my luxury.

I’d say to other women – don’t catastrophize about everything because it’ll work out in the end. Instead of imagining the worst case scenario, be assured that jobs are easier when you’re actually doing them. Also, I’d tell other women to be upfront in interviews. So many of us are embarrassed about being parents, about needing time off every now and then if the kids are off school, for example. I’d say – don’t fudge the issue. Tell it straight.

The current model is outdated – for both men and women. I’ve amended our recruitment policies where I work to say roles are open to flexibility.  You have to be realistic, though. Some full-time roles just can’t be done in three days. Four days is more realistic. Flexibility is even better – being able to leave slightly earlier to pick the kids up from school, for example. Part-time can be difficult for employers looking for senior staff. You have to compromise.

It’s also brilliant that I’ve been able to hire another woman from my cohort. When we needed a rebrand project manager, TechPixies were my first port of call. Emma Insley from my cohort is doing a fantastic job for us.

Becoming a TechPixie is great because you don’t have to be a geek to do it.  Everyone uses social media in their personal life; we were shown how to use it in a promotional, in a business sense.  And, as I said, the life coaching element is amazing.

I’m definitely a better mum as a result of being back at work, because I’m happier and more fulfilled.  And it’s so sweet how proud my boys are of me. My company were involved in work on the MRI scanner and I think my sons picture me as a scientist.  They probably see me as a someone who’s in a lab coat all day, building rockets!”

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