Finding out you’re expecting a child is a life-changing moment. At Specialist Staffing Group, the US division of SThree plc, we support our people to ensure they have a great work/life balance when returning to work after maternity leave. After all, nobody should ever have to choose between enjoying parenthood and furthering their career.
We spoke with Marcela Manjarres Christ, a Principal Consultant for Huxley New York, to talk about her return to work experience.
The Support Was There From the Beginning
“When I told Joe, my Director, that I was pregnant, he was incredibly understanding and would check in on me regularly,” says Marcela. “He also made it clear that there was the option of flexible working arrangements when I returned from maternity leave.” So when Marcela came back to work, she began working from home twice a week.
Before going on maternity leave, she’d mentioned that she would need a private area to pump once she returned. For the days when Marcela was in the office, a breastfeeding room was set up. She says, “My management team was extremely understanding and gave me the freedom and flexibility supporting breastfeeding for as long as necessary, whenever it was required.”
However, a change in circumstances meant her working arrangement needed to be reconsidered. “Once my husband started working in New York City, one of us needed to be home more often. I talked to the New York Senior Team and they agreed I could work remotely for one month.”
Maintaining Focus Wasn’t Always Easy
As Marcela explains, “As this was my second child, I was adjusting to the extra workload at home, which was a difficult challenge but something I dealt with. Once I began to lack focus, I spoke to my directors. We decided that I would start coming into the office more often to re-focus.”
After placing her husband at a multi-national financial services corporation, Marcela found herself in a bit of a predicament. While the weight of being the main breadwinner was lifted off her shoulders, she found she was struggling with her motivation and drive. “My managers were very supportive as I overcame these challenges; together we worked on re-motivating and re-focusing me. My managers were the ones who reminded me how much I truly enjoy my job,” says Marcela.
Working From Home Helped Create Balance
“When I work from home, I know I need to be structured and disciplined,” explains Marcela. “I have an assigned room for me to work. I have my PC and a work phone – the process is very seamless.”But it’s the extra time spent with her family that means the most to Marcela. “When I have an hour lunch, I can play with my daughter. When I’m finished with work, I don’t have to commute which gives me precious extra time to attend to some outstanding things at home.”
And in order to ensure Marcela meets expectations and targets, she spoke with her manager and it was agreed that he would take a hands-on approach. Now, her manager checks in on her each day, providing as much support Marcela feels she needs.
Advice For Mothers Returning to Work
One thing that became clear to Marcela during her maternity leave and return to work was that each experience is very different. So what advice would she give to future mothers, preparing to return to work? “Have an open conversation with your management team. Really work with them and use them as a support system – they will make it easier,” says Marcela.
The support given by everyone at Specialist Staffing Group helped to make her return to work much smoother and enjoyable. And whilst there were hurdles, she never had to face them alone.
Start Your Career With Specialist Staffing Group Today
If you’re looking to work for a company that supports you and helps you to grow both personally and professionally, Specialist Staffing Group have a number of openings in the US. You can view them here.