How to make work fit around your life? – Flexibility and trust


Everyone goes through stages in their career where different things become more and less important.  Nearly 20 years into working life, flexibility is the thing I now value most, enabling me to enjoy and fulfil being an employee and a parent.   Reading the usual start of year stuff about 2018 goals (which usually involve spending less time at work!), it struck me how lucky I am at MPC. 

It’s partly - credit where credit’s due – down to the open-minded approach of our CEO Anna Sabine-Newlyn.   She has never seen the fact I didn’t want a full-time job and didn’t live near our offices as a barrier to bringing me on board.   MPC have given me the freedom to do my job from home, and in return I travel and support clients in the Midlands more easily than southern based colleagues.

We both try to be flexible - I went full time to cover a maternity leave, but have also taken unpaid leave to be off during the school summer holidays.   On a week by week basis, I might work on a ‘non-working day’ to cover a key planning committee determination, but then swap days the following week so I can be at my child’s Sports Day.  I’m trusted me to make the right decision for both our clients and my family in each case.

The planning sector is well suited to this - sensible managers will just assign the appropriate number of clients/projects to fit the number of days worked.  It also works well for SMEs, for whom a full-time employee might be too financially risky, but a 20hr a week employee is viable.  

Furthermore, for those of us in public affairs who can’t see life outside of Westminster, the nature of planning and development means there is work across the country  - which was fortunate for me as I sought to continue my career in public affairs after leaving London.

I know so many women (it applies to men too, but in my circle they are all female) who struggled post maternity leave to use the experience and knowledge they built up in the years (perhaps even decade) before children, and they ended up changing to less skilled jobs just because they were part-time and fitted around family life.   This makes no sense in a knowledge based economy. So, a plea to hiring managers – please think outside the box – a full-time, desk bound employee is not the only way forward.

Sereena Davey, Associate Director, joined MPC in January 2016.

MPC is currently hiring – All applicants welcome!