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For a female broker, figuring out how to take maternity leave while running a business can be quite a challenge.
Stoneturn director Alycia Inglis discovered this a few years ago when she was expecting her first child. By restructuring and taking on staff she was able to step back from work to look after her newborn while her business continued to thrive.
Maternity leave without an instruction manual
For Inglis, the most difficult thing about figuring out how to take maternity leave while running a business was the fact that it was all unchartered waters.
“I didn’t know anyone who had done it or who was able to tell me how to do it,” she says.
“At that time, I had one full-time team member and a part-timer, and I essentially had to grow and restructure the business and manage it remotely whilst juggling a newborn.
“That was extremely challenging because there was no-one to basically give me an instruction manual. I had to figure it out as I went.”
She says this was a stressful process because the business was growing fast at the time and she didn’t want to lose the clients she had worked so hard to partner with.
In addition to making sure her clients were being looked after, she also had to manage new team members and refine their different roles by putting in templates and processes to incorporate them effectively – all while suffering sleep deprivation and looking after a newborn.
A successful restructure
In order to overcome this challenge, Inglis set up the business so that she would continue to do client recommendations while her staff did all the legwork.
“I employed a broker or loan writer at that point in time because I only had capacity to do the client facing activities and I had to outsource all the technical side like credit research, negotiation – basically all the ground work,” she says.
“Then she would present it to me and say right here’s the top three options which I think might be suitable.”
Inglis says it wasn’t all plain sailing and there were challenges along the way, such as dealing with staff turnover, making sure each person had the right role and tweaking the systems and processes to be more efficient.
Despite needing to finesse things as they went, she says the structure continues to work well for the business and has seen her through the birth of her second child.
“I still have the same structure now.”
“From a fundamental big picture perspective, it was definitely the right thing to do and the right structure.”
Backing yourself to make it happen
While it was challenging to let go of having oversight and control of everything, Inglis says it was a positive step towards growing the business.
“The process itself has been amazing because I now have four team members and it works really well because we’ve worked so hard at building it.”
In hindsight, she says she would have taken on more staff members and started business coaching earlier while having greater confidence in herself and her ability to make the transition work.
“I think women tend to maybe not back themselves as much as they should.”
Wanting to share her experiences with other female brokers, she recently started a Facebook group called “Make it Happen” that aims to provide a collaborative space for women in the finance industry to share tips and expertise.
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