Carmen Pascoe

Children: 2 Industry: Telecommunications, Technology, Internet & Electronics

How would you best describe yourself?

It is always so hard to answer this questions. I have done so many of those personality profiling and leadership style questionnaires and tests and I always end up with two opposite personality traits. I am driven, ambitious and conscientious but on the other side I am really collaborative, loving and creative. Maybe it is the Gemini in me!

How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?

Work was always really important to me, not just from a financial perspective but doing well at work really gave me a sense of drive and formed part of my identity. I had so many frustrations when I was pregnant about people telling me I would change and never go back to work. A few memorable moments; I started my MBA 6 weeks before I found out I was pregnant and people told me I should just quit because I would never finish it. I had moved to QLD for a new job and fell pregnant maybe 9 months after, a customer told me I should just quit because that is what his wife did and that it was the best thing for the kids. I remember another senior male told me that I was an expensive hire because I would never return to work. I was so angry at all of these people telling me I couldn't or wouldn't return to work. I thought I have spent all this time studying, working, moving away from family and friends for work, I'm not just going to quit.

My biggest surprise was how I felt about my job. Not work. I am even more driven to work and to have financial security and provide for my family but how I want to do those things has really changed. My 'why' after I had kids suddenly became really important to me. After my first child, I went back to work part time, I also continued (and still do continue) with my MBA but I also started my own business with my two sisters, SitClique to help other women have flexibility when accessing domestic care arrangements.

I think how important the "Why" of my work was, post kids, really surprised me.

What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?

  • You never feel like the time is right.

  • Don't try and be perfect and don't compare yourself to anyone.

  • Your child is not going to be like the books. Put the parenting books down! (I learnt this after my first child).

  • Try and be in the moment as best you can. In the grand scheme of things they don't last long (this is easier said than done sometimes)

What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy/leave/returning to work?  How have you overcome this?

All stages have their challenges. I think going from being super passionate about my job and then going into mat leave made me feel a little lost. As everyone keeps saying, every crisis presents with an opportunity (albeit it was a tiny personal crisis for me), continuing with my study was really important to that process for me, it let me continue to learn and use my brain in a way that I really enjoyed and eventually gave me different opportunities like starting my own business. I guess everyone is different but going from being 'on' at work all the time to being 'on' with parenting all the time wasn't something that was going to work for me, continuing to stimulate my brain with study during that period really allowed me to keep a bit of time that was just for me. It has been a real challenge to find the time but I guess it is finding one thing you feel super passionate about just for you when you are on mat leave and making it happen. That made a big difference for me.

What strategies/initiatives do you use to help you manage the juggle of being a Working Mumma and family?

I would like to say that I am super organised and manage the juggle really well, but I definitely do not! The most important things to help me get by are:

  • Having a supportive partner is super crucial for me. We always joke that he dresses the family and I feed them (he does all the washing, I do all the cooking). We also make sure we do alternative drop off days for daycare so we both get to put in longer days throughout the week.

  • With no family around having people we can rely on to help out with the kids is crucial. We have like 3-4 Sitters that the kids know that we can call on when we need it. Study, date night, work meetings. Having the help to find the space to get things done.

  • We have an allocated date night, every Friday, no matter what. That kind of thing is important I think, there is so much going on, otherwise we would both be working late every night after the kids go down. You have to make the time sometimes.

  • I have given up exercise and cooking meals that take more than 30 minutes. I also live on a diet of coffee and chocolate... they are probably not the helpful initiatives you are looking for though.