Work and family are not always easily integrated in our society, whether you’re a dad or mum.
As a result, the decision to return to work is often not an easy one. Deciding when, where and how is dictated by a variety of factors – you’ll need to work through the emotional, financial and logistical impacts as well as the parenting support you’ll receive from the company you may be thinking of joining or returning to.
Meet Maka Chikoka, Consultant, Cyber Security & Risk Services at RSM who shares her experience of juggling her career and family with a firm that has market-leading policies and programs to support working families.
Tell us about your story.
I migrated to Australia in 2017 from Zimbabwe with my husband. I worked in IT service desk while completing my CISA as I always wanted to work in IT governance or consulting.
After a series of networking engagements, a colleague got me an interview with a leading mid-tier firm for their graduate program. After starting the program, I went on maternity leave to have my baby boy - Christian. Whilst on maternity leave, a close contact of mine at RSM who is also a Partner there invited me to join the firm.
The RSM team gave me the freedom of deciding when to start as well as the days I wanted to work. This was quite helpful as my son was 7 months old when I started work and still adjusting to daycare life. I have been with RSM since the beginning of 2021 and haven’t looked back since.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love the exposure and learning opportunities that I have working with RSM. We look after multiple clients from various sectors i.e. government, private and public and not for profit organisations.
The RSM team members are friendly and create a homely working environment. Work-life is balanced and flexible allowing me to work around my family life. The team’s after-work social catchups are always relaxing and great in building team cohesion.
What flexible working arrangements and support options do you have access to at RSM to help with the juggle?
As my son was quite young – 7 months - when I expressed interest in returning, I was given a choice on when I wanted to start after maternity leave, and which days I wanted to work. This has helped me ease my son into daycare life without stressing him. I have sufficient autonomy in my job and can work from home as I need to.
What’s a typical day like for you?
The day starts early as my husband TK and I take turns to get ourselves and Christian ready. After dropping off Christian at daycare, a typical office day starts off with a cuppa – a flat white. I then catch up on my emails, just before the morning team call, which is always a great opportunity to discuss the priorities for the day and to catch up with other team members.
The day generally involves meetings with clients, either online or physically, to conduct audits or technical work in following up on audit findings. My day ends with collecting Christian from daycare located just a minute's walk from the office and heading home.
What advice do you have for primary caregivers who may be thinking about returning to work?
I would encourage them to go for it, but to have a plan to ease into the work and daycare routine. As both of you (parent and child) adjust to work and daycare life, the routine can be changed and adjusted accordingly.
"Being back at work has given a balance to my life while at the same time daycare has greatly developed Christian’s social skills and improved his independence."
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about juggling work and family?
Balancing the needs of the family and a career can be challenging, however, it is rewarding at the same time. I find that establishing a routine helps to juggle the varying priorities. Developing networks with other parents in the workplace also helps in sharing ideas and socialising.
Taking time out to recharge e.g. going for a massage helps to clear the mind and keeps me going. Someone once told me:” If you do more of the other, always know one will be strained.”
RSM offers many family-friendly benefits including flexible work, paid parental leave to both mums and dads, income protection and access to a wealth of resources such as webinars on effective parenting.
RSM is also happy to work with candidates that have been out of the workforce for a while.
Interested to learn more?
To find out more about one of our Risk Advisory and Security & Privacy roles or to have a confidential discussion about the flexibility you will be able to access to integrate and manage your work and family lives, speak to Brianna Klinberg, National Talent Officer on 07 3225 7865 or via email [email protected].