What do mothers who also develop their careers value in a company awarded the Great Place to Work title? For Mother’s Day, experts from Sii talk about new challenges, professional development, fears, support from the employer and the possibilities of combining life roles.
New role – new me!
Agata Zyborowicz-Dabulis, Software Engineer, mother of a 6-year-old daugther
My decision to have a child put my career on hold for some time, but it ended up having a really positive influence, and even brought about an almost revolutionary change – while on maternity leave I began to learn to code. Previously, I used to work in an IT company as a Implementation Specialist.
My husband is an IT architect who works in Java. Tomek had already worked with Sii for 4 years, so I knew it was a reliable company. And just after I’d become a mother, I decided to become a programmer too – I joined a course and started an internship at Sii. Immediately I landed in a project, where I could not only learn to code, but also cooperate with a client using the Scrum methodology.
I have been working at Sii for 2 years as a programmer. I started as a front-end developer in the Magento project, and currently I am a Java Developer in the Puma project . Of course, I’m still a mum at the same time. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but I feel that the company gives me a lot of support. The most important is the attitude of the boss, his understanding. I work with fantastic people and I really like coming to the office, but if the need arises, I can work remotely. I don’t come from the Tri-City and I don’t have any family here, so this support is really important for me. During the last teachers’ strike, we took advantage of the child care that Sii provided, and our daughter loves corporate events for children.
I really enjoy being a programmer. I’m glad that I’m still learning at work. I believe that this is also an important example to give my daughter because I have a job that gives me satisfaction and fulfilment.
The next step in professional development
Wioleta Boruch, Business Developer in the Office 365 Competence Center, mother of 3-year-old Staś
I started working at Sii in 2013 as a Recruitment Specialist and then went on to become a Resource Manager. In the meantime, Very Important Project “Stas” cropped up. This is my first child, so I was afraid that during my long absence from Sii there would be loads of changes and I would have problems finding myself when I came back. I was also stressed about whether or not I could reconcile the mother role with my job.
I returned to Sii after more than one year’s break, and soon afterwards I was promoted to the position of Retention & HR Manager, and then I made another decision to move towards sales, ending up as a Business Developer. Admittedly, according to my predictions, a few significant changes did take place in the company at the time, but motherhood taught me a lot about flexibility. I organize my time better to make the best use of it – e.g. when I need to stay at home, I listen to webinars. At the same time I can find time just for my child or my passions – sewing and gardening – which I also promote on social media.
What really helped me adapt to my new duties after returning is the opportunity to take advantage of breastfeeding breaks and flexible working hours. Thanks to the understanding of my bosses, I don’t feel frustrated that I might be neglecting any area. Sii has also implemented some cool ideas that are a nice surprise for people starting a family, such as gifts when a child is born, family picnics, St. Nicholas Day …
The most important, however, is that maternity leave does not interfere with making use of development opportunities in the company, and I’m a perfect example of this.
Work – the important role of mothers
Natalia Buczel, Director of Sii Poznan, mother of a 11-year-old Michał and 5-year-old Helena
I started my Sii adventure in 2010 in Gdansk, an after 2 years I moved to Poznan to manage the new branch there. In 2013, I gave birth to a daughter and went on a 6-month maternity leave. In spite of major fears about whether or not I’d cope with being Branch Director after this break, my return to work went quite smoothly.
From the beginning, my boss – Greg, the Sii CEO – was very supportive and assured me that as soon as I was ready to return, my position would be waiting for me. However, I was afraid that if I spent so many months at home, I would just get out of the swing of things and during that time some big changes would occur in the organization. The first days after my return were difficult, but I was convinced that both my daughter and I would cope with the new situation – for the benefit of both of us.
It is very good when children see that we have our own passions – and that work is a passion. It is also great when they learn that our family supports us in development – including professional development – and that we are partners at home and have equal rights. That’s why we also share child care with my partner. However, combining roles is difficult at times. I often have to go on business trips, and when I come back home, I can’t always immediately switch off from work. Fortunately, I have support at home in the form of an understanding family, and at work from my boss and team. Greg once told me that family is the most important thing, not only when someone suddenly catches a cold or has a broken nose, but also in important moments like a kindergarten performance or a school exam. I know this full well as a mother and at Sii I feel like a worker as well as a manager.
Understanding and support means that the girls can focus on their work and, when the time comes, enjoy the flexibility of the employer. It is also important to have the security of being able to come back to a position that a young mother will find safe and satisfying.
Motherhood gives the power to act
Ewa Bogucka, PSD Power User, mother of 2,5-year-old daughter, and soon also other baby girl
This year marks the 6th anniversary of my work at Sii. I started in the Administration department: as a Specialist, then Team Leader, and then Sales Power User. After returning from maternity leave, I took up a new position as PreSales & Delivery Power User.
Being a mum is a full-time job and I think you can compare it to a Project Manager. Motherhood has taught me to organize my work better. Taking care of a child or playing with him forces you to be fully active and focus on the “here and now”. I can devote the same concentration to my work and at the same time catch some fresh insight into some aspects. I also make decisions faster. I think that motherhood hasn’t hindered me in any way – just the opposite! I have a lot more energy to act.
During my maternity leave, I started post-graduate studies. Six months after returning to work, I ran the first marathon in my life (within the #SiiRuns40WM and Passion Sponsorship Program). I have no time to slow down, although I should soon – new challenges up ahead, because another toddler is on the way!
At Sii, I’ve never had a situation where my role as a mother has somehow restricted me. There are of course situations when I suddenly have to up and leave, like when my child is ill, but this has never been a problem for my boss. I was not afraid and I’m still not afraid that I won’t have anything to come back to. Sii is developing very well indeed and I’m sure that after the break a satisfying role will await me.
Important support and understanding
Anna Szopińska, Service Delivery Manager at the Digital Competence Center, mother of 2 sons, 5 and 3 years old
I have been working at Sii since November 2011: first as a Java Developer, later as an architect, PM, and since August 2017 as a Service Delivery Manager. During this time, I have been on maternity leave twice. After both breaks, I returned to the organization, which in the meantime had undergone many changes – I had to get to know the company again, find my feet, and at the same time open up new opportunities. After the first maternity leave, it was a bit harder for me to find myself in the new reality, but after the second – when I was already working in the Digital Competence Center – I had absolutely no problem at all with it. I just got stuck in and started working normally and I was soon promoted.
Being a working parent is often difficult, especially when the kids get sick. But thanks to the support of the company and, above all, the boss, there are no major difficulties. We have fairly flexible working hours. I can also bring the children to the office. My kids really like coming to Sii, so I try to take them once a week in the morning so that they can play in the specially equipped “baby room”. At the beginning I wondered how it would be perceived if sometimes a time comes when I often have to work from home or come to work with my children. But with a little effort, phone calls, communicators and regular contact, everything can be reconciled.
Last year, at Sii, over 10% of working women took maternity leave. Over 31% of them have already returned to work. According to the surveys that examine what mothers think of Sii, the most important thing is understanding on the part of the boss and the team, as well as a flexible approach to the role of the working mother. Women who have become mothers gain new skills and develop competences that are highly valued in Sii. This awareness helps them cope with the widespread fear that “others are developing and learning new things, while I’m spending all day with my child”. That is why the company responds to the needs of parents on an ongoing basis and brings in solutions that are convenient for them, especially so that mothers can be themselves at work and then perceive Sii as the best place they could possibly work.