Women in technology: You can have it all! - Maintel

Women in technology: You can have it all!

28th March 2022
By: Rebecca Hughes, Head of HR 

On International Women’s Day, we announced the launch of a brand new blog series that will see us celebrate women in tech and give our internal female talent a platform to share their valuable insights and experience. In the next installation of the series, we sit down with Rebecca Hughes, Head of HR at Maintel, to discuss the importance of a work-life balance, how to juggle a career and raising a family, and looking to the future.

I’ve been Maintel’s Head of HR and a part of the Executive Management Team (EMT) since last year, but I did initially have some reservations before accepting the role.

I’ve always been very career-focussed and ambitious – in my twenties, I was determined to become an HR Director by the time I was 40. But then when I had my children, my priorities completely changed and for a time, my view did too. Over the years I’ve felt torn as a parent, juggling a career whilst raising a family, never wanting to let either side down.

When my children were born, I was working as an HR Manager and later, an Employee Relations Manager both of which were very full on! I think, as women, we’re often made to feel that we have to choose between either raising a family or having a successful career, but why shouldn’t we be able to do both? As a working mum, I noticed that part-time roles are like gold dust when you’re at a professional level, and I was lucky that my employer at the time let me drop to four days a week, to provide me with the right work-life balance. Having that balance allowed me to be a ‘normal mum’ one day a week and pick my children up from school, whilst retaining a professional role and career. It was a trial basis at first, but I made damn sure it worked!

Even now I still struggle with ‘mum guilt’, but when Ioan MacRae, Maintel’s CEO approached me last year and ask me to consider the Head of HR position, I knew I would regret it if I turned the opportunity down. My children are a little older now, and the timing felt better. Our EMT is very diverse, with an equal male to female ratio, different backgrounds and various skillsets – but I’m currently the only female with young children, and that’s something that I’m very conscious of.

Everyone has their own, personal story and journey. For me, I lost one of my daughters when she was six – she would be 20 now – so my life experience has definitely had an impact in shaping who I am today. I’m very open about losing my daughter as it’s very much a part of me, and I think it’s important people understand that they can and should bring their whole selves to work.

We all wear work masks, but somebody’s home life – their family, their hobbies – are all part of who they are as a person, and we shouldn’t have to just bring part of ourselves to work. We all need to feel comfortable in our own skin both inside and outside of work.

I know the EMT understand that and support me – it’s very inclusive and I’ve been very much welcomed in. They understand that I have a young family. When my daughter had COVID and the EMT were due to go away for two days, Ioan told me, without hesitation, to stay home and be there with my daughter who was ill and wanted her mummy, so the EMT dialled me in.

 If you know things are fine and settled at home, you can be fully focused on work, but if you’re torn and things are off-kilter, it affects everything. People need to have that balance and recognising that is a big part of who we are at Maintel.

It’s the people that make the culture. If you have the right mindset from the senior leadership team, and that’s interwoven throughout the whole business, it naturally makes a difference.

I feel proud of Maintel because we are a fully inclusive business with an agile workforce (pre-COVID 55% of our workforce were home or field-based already). We bring people into our business because they have the right skillsets for the job. Maintel is a very inclusive environment, where people are given the autonomy and tools to do their job. Our people are trusted and respected, and they make us proud.

Maintel practices flexible working, and that looks and works differently for everyone. For example, for me, flexible working looks like never missing my children’s sports days or school plays. As I mentioned earlier, as a woman, having this preconceived idea forced on us that you can either be a mum, or a businesswoman but not both is an outdated idea.

Telecoms is such a fast-moving industry and you have to react very quickly to change to stay competitive in the marketplace. I personally thrive in that environment and working at that pace, and I’m grateful to be continuing on my career journey, tackling new challenges, getting stuck into new projects, taking on more responsibility and still getting the kids from school every now and then.

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