Emma is a partner in the forensic team at Deloitte and is managing partner for talent. She works full time, has twin girls aged five and is married to a man who develops commercial properties. They have a nanny and a cleaning lady who comes twice a week.
So you have two jobs?
Well yes. I was brought in to set up and lead a specialist team, which is now about 50 people. Then last June our CEO called and asked to see me – for some reason I thought I was about to lose my job! No I really did. And he asked me to join the executive as managing partner for talent for the firm.
So now I am responsible for our firm’s talent strategy and have the HR team reporting into me too, even though that isn’t my background. It’s important because the only thing we have in our business is people – we don’t make widgets – we have to make sure we get more than our fair share of good people and make sure they have a good experience here.
How do you manage your work and home life?
We’re an alpha/alpha couple – he has a big business to run - but he has more flexibility than I do. He can move stuff in his diary when I often can’t. But I also feel that sometimes I’d like it to be me who gets home at 6pm and spends time with the kids, and my Mrs Nasty side comes out. Sometimes we discuss how long we’ve spent with them and promise each other we’ve not had more time than the other, it’s ridiculous.
How do you manage your time?
I work really long hours. I work very late in the evening, but this is how I choose to work.
We get the girls out to school in the morning in a mad panic - just before 8am. Ideally I’d like our nanny to start at 7am, but she can’t because she lives too far away. After that I’m running between back-to-back meetings. Today I have two half hour slots free to do my work. So I always (unless I have an event) get a cab home about 6.30pm or 7pm and put the girls to bed at about 7.30pm. After we eat dinner I switch my laptop on and work - sometimes until 1am.
On Fridays I try to work from home and do the drop off and pick up. I do more work that day than any other and it keeps me sane.
Weekends are just about the girls. It does mean it leaves little time for do stuff for myself. But that is a choice that I make. When I have done stuff for myself – like go shopping for me - I’ve been slightly traumatised by losing two hours with my children. That time is so precious.
Are there times you just want to stop working so hard?
Yes. There are. But I think every mother gets that. I am passionate about what I do. Sometimes I do wonder why I do this - I have moments. But I do love working, I’d just like to do it a bit less. Maybe just doing one of my roles would help, but I love both bits.
Do the twins have a view?
One asked why daddies get more holidays than mummies. I said that Mummy would like to work less and spend more time with you. Their different reactions were funny. One twin was delighted and the other asked if they’d get less stuff. That’s because I explain that I work to ensure they have what they need.
What advice do you have for other mums?
These are the rules I follow:
1. You have to love what you do. If you leave your lovely kids in someone else’s hands - which is a massive thing - you have to do it because you want to. So I’ve turned down roles I won’t love.
2. Saying no is important. You mustn’t be ashamed to say no or make excuses. We had a European leadership conference and one of the girls had the worst sick bug, and I was beating myself up about not going, but I had a child vomiting and she needed her mummy. I was honest about why I stayed.
3. Don’t feel guilty – though I don’t follow that. Yes I work hard, but I put my children to bed.
4. And then something I read is that when you get home don’t check your BlackBerry. Giving them half an hour or 45 minutes is more quality time than most stay at home mothers manage. I’ve held on to that.
5. Book holidays where there is a kids club – just getting a couple of hours a day of time of ‘me time’ is so precious.
6. Get all the help you need. I am lucky I can afford it. Could I have done it before I was senior? Probably yes but it would have been harder.
Is corporate life incompatible with childcare structures?
I don’t believe it is – you just need to be able to work in a way that balances your family and career. Goldman’s has a nursery. We looked at starting a crèche here, but people didn’t want to bring their kids in on the tube. So we offer an emergency nanny service that we subsidise. My nanny is going to be off for a few days and I am structuring it so I can still work but differently, and everything will survive. Where it’ll go wrong is if one of the kids is ill at the same time.
How do you and your husband balance care?
Even though he is more flexible with his work, I am the one the children want when they are ill. I also have a different attitude to what they need in terms of boundaries. My mother says that, as women, we have a different way of doing things. We listen to everyone, we take advice. My husband doesn’t think through cause and effect in the same way: he lifted one of the twins over a fence at the Tower of London to take her picture and I thought, ‘Oh no we’re teaching her to climb fences and it could be a railway track.’ But sometimes I do think it would be nice to be more like that.
Why don’t you do a four-day week?
My two roles are full on and there is just too much to do in less than five days. If I worked a four-day week I would still have the same amount of work to do but get paid less for doing it, and this would frustrate me. Helena Morrissey talks about the answer being modernising the workplace and I agree with her. For me personally it is not about a formal arrangement like reduced hours; it is about me being able to flex according to my family needs and being judged on what I achieve.
Do you sleep?
I am a terrible insomniac. I used to write things down in the middle of the night as it is a time when I tend to think over the day. I probably average five or six hours sleep – that’s all I need. Plus the occasional holiday to keel over!
Thriving or surviving?
The last few weeks have been tough as a lot of deadlines have come at the same time, but overall definitely thriving.
Christine is a contributing editor of MT, owner of www.villas4kids.com and a partner at Jericho Chambers.