Like many women, having the flexibility to organise my career around other commitments became increasingly important once I became a Mum.  Most of us want better flexibility, irrespective of gender or whether or not we are a parent, with work-life balance recently becoming the primary motivator for Kiwi job seekers when considering a new job or career.

That illusive flexibility can be difficult to secure however and is a major reason why so many time-strapped women opt out of the workforce, choosing instead to combine running a business with looking after their children. According to a 2013 MYOB survey around 40% of Kiwi self-employed small businesses are owned by women.  Many of these women created their business to spend more time with their children, to save on childcare and achieve a better work-life balance.

Although I was lucky enough to find employment that offered flexibility and fitted in around my family as it grew, I always knew deep down that running my own business was what I wanted to do. I just didn’t know what it was yet. 

After taking every professional development opportunity on offer at work, I soon discovered what that business would be and started making plans (albeit very loosely) to turn it into a reality.  With three kids and a mortgage, ditching the career for self-employment never really seemed like a good idea nor was the timing ever quite right.  So instead I focused on growing my skills and building my capability in the career coaching and outplacement space for my employer, while my carefully chosen business name remained unused on the Companies Office register.

In late 2013 I was made redundant and everything changed.  Once I’d gotten over the initial shock and surprise, I realised this was exactly the kick in the pants I needed to take my career in a new direction.  Career Insights was born and I was up and running - delivering outplacement programmes to my former employer - the very next week.

Supporting people who are facing difficult career transitions, usually through a restructuring process, was how my business got its start but since then I have expanded these services to include anyone who is looking to change their career or who needs help navigating the job market.  Teaching job seekers how to enhance their personal brand, market themselves and create interest in what they have to offer is hugely rewarding.  This is achieved through drawing on my recruitment and career coaching background to help people discover their passions and purpose, by setting inspiring and achievable career goals, collaborating to plan next steps and providing job hunting or business start-up support. 

Although it’s fair to say I’m putting in more hours on the business than I spent working in my previous job, starting my own business has been so rewarding.  There have been plenty of challenges but having the freedom to manage my life in a way that allows me to work flexibly around the family is an absolute bonus.

What’s Next for Career Insights

This year Career Insights will be packaging all this experience up and working more closely with parents who are looking to return to work after time out with the kids, so watch this space for a new programme offering in the coming months.  In the meantime we will be sharing stories on the blog from parents who have either started their own business to work around their children or who have found flexible employment to suit their families’ needs.  If you’d like to feature or know someone who might have a great story to share, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to get in touch.