How young working mothers are doing is an important issue - for both women and men. How should you go about having time for your baby on the one hand and sticking to your business topic on the other? We talk to Isabella Seidl, Director at Blackrock, who works in institutional sales there. She had her baby 28 weeks ago.
Isabella, how are you with your baby now?
Fantastic, I enjoy every second with our little Leo!
Can you tell us what you did at Blackrock before you went into maternity leave and what your working hours were?
I work in sales for institutional clients at BlackRock. My focus is on investment consultants in the DACH region, which means a lot of traveling between Germany and Switzerland.
Does the job, the fund industry in general, take a back seat when you are holding your baby in your arms?
Yes, definitely! At such a moment, the fund industry is a long way off. However, I continue to read business news regularly. This works wonderfully on the mobile phone while I am breastfeeding! (laughs). I have reduced my emails to a minimum. My little insider tip here is to program automatic “rules” in Outlook! A lot of unnecessary mails are filtered out, and I only get the really important topics by email.
How is parental leave generally regulated in Switzerland?
In Switzerland women are legally entitled to 14 weeks of parental leave, with fathers currently being given only one day (!). A referendum will be held in Switzerland on September 27 to extend paternity leave to two weeks - I am curious to see whether this will happen! In addition, each company can individually award more days than are required by law. BlackRock gives men four weeks of parental leave worldwide. I also got four weeks in addition to the parental leave given by the Swiss law.
How long do personally plan to stay at home, and how long will your partner stay at home?
I stay at home for a total of 18 weeks, that is four and a half months. My partner stays at home for four weeks. He was with us two weeks after the birth, and he takes two weeks off to get Leo used to the daycare when I get back to work.
Is it important to keep in touch with the industry during parental leave while you are at home?
Yes, in my opinion it is important to keep in touch with the industry. A good network is always important, whether you are on parental leave or not. Keeping in contact can also be nice, I also want to know how my team is doing or, for example, when I meet you for a breakfast interview (laughs).
How do you keep in touch with the industry during your parental leave?
I am still in regular contact with colleagues and with my network. Be it at lunch, having a coffee, or taking a walk together. These kind of contacts can be perfectly combined with Leo. Just like now, I always have the little one with me in the carrier.
What could companies do to make life easier for mothers in this regard?
Dealing more actively with the topic of maternity protection and paternity leave, addressing difficulties, creating platforms for exchange and responding flexibly to the wishes of mothers. Mothers' preferences vary widely. Before I took parental leave, my manager asked me how often I would like to keep in touch and what information I would like to receive, and we now meet for lunch once a month. For me this is a good mix between staying informed and taking care of the child. However, other mothers might want a different intensity - this should be discussed individually!
Mothers who have young children at home are often assumed to be not 100% on the job. How do you see it now, as a young mother?
I've always seen this differently. In my opinion, mothers work more focused because they have to manage their tasks in less time. They do not have the chance to simply stay longer if they need more time. Besides, one could say the same thing about fathers. They surely also have their children in mind and can be contacted by the daycare during the day if something happens.
What advice do you have for other women who take family time and then want to return to their jobs?
For a successful career, building up and maintaining the network are the most important ingredients. And if mothers want to reduce their working hours, I advise you to take into account that reduced working hours not only have an impact on wages, but also on pension entitlements and possibly also on the bonus.
Thank you very much for talking to us, Isabella, and have fun with your Leo!