Released On 27 April 2020
Q&A with Louise James, our 20,000th Cityparents member
With working parents needing support now more than ever, Cityparents has seen rising numbers of registrations, with new joiners over March up 345% year on year. Last week, we were thrilled to welcome our 20,000th member to the network: Louise James, Managing Director of Accenture Development Partnerships. Louise tells us how she’s managing work and family life during lockdown and why she decided to join Cityparents.
CP: Please could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your career background?
LJ: I’m a Managing Director at Accenture where I run a global team called Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP). ADP is Accenture’s not-for-profit unit that channels our skills and capabilities to address social and environmental issues in the developing world. My interest in international development came from spending a year in Cambodia in 2003, volunteering as a management advisor in the government through VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas).
CP: Has your career changed since having children and has your work pattern changed at all?
LJ: Since my first child was born in 2007, I have worked part time—3.5 days a week. Doing the half day was the best advice someone gave me, as it allows me to keep work moving during that day but also means I can have some time with the children and also for myself.
CP: Why did you decide to join Cityparents and what do you hope to gain from being a member?
LJ: I decided to join to get advice on both wellbeing and juggling family life whilst under lockdown.
CP: The COVID-19 pandemic has blurred the lines between our family and professional lives more than ever. How are you managing?
LJ: It’s tough, and everyone has their own version of the challenges they are facing. For my husband and me, it is the challenge of having three kids aged 4, 9 and 12, whom all have very different needs. Our 9 year old needs a lot of support with the home schooling, whilst our 4 year old, of course, always wants to play. We make sure we get out of the house at least once a day, otherwise there is a risk that we just sit in front of computers all day. We have been very lucky to still have childcare a few days a week—and the days we don’t, my husband and I do shifts.
CP: Do you think this period will trigger longer term changes in City working life?
LJ: Yes, definitely. Whilst we all miss the physical presence in the office, I think you will see a bigger transition to people working from home more frequently. However, I do think that there must be a balance. Especially for more junior staff who learn a lot from the day-to-day interactions with more senior employees—I would not want them to lose that.