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Striking the work-parenthood balance, according to Soozi Parker of New Hat Thinking in Vigo and Brachers managing partner Jo Worby

By Chris Price

Since setting up her own management-training business seven years ago, Soozi Parker has been drafted in to help companies in China, the USA and across Europe.

Yet the personal development specialist says there is a price to pay for travelling to Shanghai to teach bosses about motivating their workforce – and she wants out.

“Although I love seeing the world and the challenges it brings, the amount of time it takes to get to places like China is tough,” said the mother of two, who operates her business New Hat Thinking from an office in her home in Vigo, near Wrotham.

Soozi Parker in her office at home in Vigo

“I love my job and I want to do more of it but I don’t want to be away any more.

“I have a family and husband who I would like to keep but I often find myself on my own in a hotel room somewhere.

“I want to be involved locally so I am not travelling 12 hours on a flight for my next job.”

Soozi’s desire to cut down her air miles and work in Kent is not uncommon among parents who have to balance the pressures of raising a family with a career.

Last year, Soozi went to the USA eight times and China twice, sometimes for as long as a fortnight.

But she says cutting down on travelling does not equate to putting her career on the back burner. She simply needs to gather more Kent clients.

She said: “I have got my kids so I want to be more local. Nevertheless, I want to be busier. I want to be able to work more of the time.”

One woman who appears to be getting the work-parenting balance right is Joanna Worby, managing partner of Maidstone-based law firm Brachers.

Joanna Worby, managing partner of Maidstone-based law firm Brachers

The mother-of-one is the youngest person to hold the position in the company’s 119-year history and is passionate about women being represented in senior management. Four of the firm’s 13 equity partners are female, a figure which stood at six until two retired in April.

She and her husband moved to Boughton Monchelsea to be closer to work, making it easier to get home to see their three-year-old son, who is looked after in the day at nursery or by a childminder.

“My husband and I try to divide and conquer. I tend to do drop off to nursery unless I have a board meeting or networking breakfast, and he does the pick up...” - Brachers' Jo Worby

She said: “As a managing partner and working mother, it’s crucial to lead from the front and practise what I preach.

“It’s very important for me not to miss out on school nativity plays and the like, and thanks to new technology making remote working so much easier, I can always make up time as necessary.

“My husband and I try to divide and conquer. I tend to do drop off to nursery unless I have a board meeting or networking breakfast, and he does the pick up although I try to be home by 6pm at least two nights a week.”

Unlike Joanna, Soozi’s 11- and 15-year-old daughters are approaching exams, which can mean she feels emotionally blackmailed to avoid working away.

She said: “They are supportive but it gets harder as they get older.

“They say ‘I have got exams and you’re not here’. When they are younger you just need someone to mind them but teenagers need a different kind of support.

“It can be an issue for anyone. I’m lucky because my husband has a local job. He’s been able to support me but many women tend to shy away from work if they think they have got to travel.

“The first time I was offered work in Hong Kong I remember saying I felt like I couldn’t go but my husband said ‘why not?’ He’s been very helpful.”

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