Short bio about yourself and family
I am a French (and British since January) Senior Façade Engineer. I have been working in London since 2010 after studying for MEng Civil and Architectural engineering in Bath. I live in south west London with my husband and 9-month old baby. I joined Meinhardt in 2016 and I have been working mostly on large office developments and high rise residential towers.
What does your role entail?
I am part of a team (made of architects and other consultants) who design the external envelopes of buildings. We work with glass, brick, stone, and metals to design buildings which meet structural, environmental, fire, acoustic, aesthetic, construction and budget requirements.
Which factors helped you decide about returning to work?
Façade Engineering is very interesting, we influence the design of the building significantly therefore it was quite exciting to come back to work. Meinhardt made it easier by being open to flexible working hours and also offered a phased return.
What was the procedure for returning to work?
The main issue with going back to work was finding childcare. In my area it is very over-subscribed with waiting lists of over a year. The nursery we use is a 15 minute drive away.
Once childcare was sorted, it was straightforward, I came over to the office and met with Charlotte (HR) and my director to discuss the date and hours I would be returning to and gave notice of my return.
How did Meinhardt support you with returning back to work?
I came in for several KIT (Keep in touch) days throughout my maternity leave to keep in touch with the technical advances and the day to day running of the team. We are a medium size company so most topics can be discussed around a cup of coffee.
What is your working pattern?
I work 4 days a week (Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri), 8am-5pm, which allows me to be back at home for bedtime and works better with our nursery hours (7.30am-6.30pm).
How are you adjusting to being a working mother?
Overall it has been fairly easy. I had doubts at first (did I forget anything? is this outdated information?) but the facade team at Meinhardt are close knit and I can freely ask questions for a quick sanity check when required. The toughest part of being a working parent is working with broken sleep, which hopefully should improve over time.
What advice would you give to mothers considering returning to work?
Work out a routine with childcare and family so that return is not stressful. It is scary leaving a child with strangers for the first time so it is important to find a solution that works for everyone.