She left her online editor role at Tatler after maternity leave and joined Shoreditch-based tech startup Tantrum. We interviewed Lisa Williams about mornings, feeling empowered as a new mum and women in tech…
Lisa, 34, lives with her partner and their son Stanley, nine months, in East Sheen. She’s editor of Tantrum -‘a website for tech-savvy, design-conscious parents….part e-shop, part magazine’.
What time were you up this morning?
What woke you up?
My baby babbling away, as if he were at a cocktail party.
How did you feel?
Like I couldn’t wait until he understands the expression, ‘It’s not morning yet’. And that I need to get a better black-out blind.
Are you a ‘morning person’?
No. I’m admittedly fairly grumpy first thing in the morning, but the combination of breakfast and the company of spritely people usually wakes me up.
What are your most productive working hours?
The middle of the working day and in the evenings. I tend to have my best ideas during my commute and out running, bizarrely.
You recently left your role as online editor at Tatler to become editor of a tech startup Tantrum. What prompted you to leave?
I found maternity leave very inspiring but very tough. It gave me that maniacal feeling of, ‘If I can do this, I can do anything,’ which made me realise I was ready for a new challenge.
A bit about Tantrum
Tell us about Tantrum and your new role…
Tantrum is a website for tech-savvy, design-conscious parents. It is part e-shop, part magazine, and will eventually have events listings and a community feature too.
What will Tantrum offer that other parenting websites don’t?
We hope to offer parents one place where they can buy beautifully-designed products, read about culture, travel and tech, and find out where to meet parents like them.
In what ways has your view of the working world changed since having Stanley? (for instance: options for flexi hours, switching off from work, finishing on time)
I’ve never been a work-to-rule person, it’s impossible when what you do is digital, and when I joined Tantrum I was under no illusion that it would be an easy gig. That said, it’s important that I can work from home occasionally, and I would like to have one day off in the week where I am completely offline. We’ll see how that goes…
How could the UK make the workplace more parent-friendly?
It also needs to leave less to each employer’s discretion. For example, the right to ask for flexible working hours is made slightly useless, in my opinion, by the employer’s right to reject the request. That said, there are some fantastic employers out there who understand that parents have commitments beyond the office and that even if they’re home for three days with a sick child, they’ll make up for it in other ways.
You and your husband talked about sharing parental leave, what would happen if all parents went ahead with this option?
I believe in equal parenting, and it is therefore a very important editorial tenet of Tantrum, which is for both mothers and fathers and any combination of the above. I love how NCT courses, for example, encourage dads to get involved in every aspect of childcare, from doing skin-to-skin with their newborn, to supporting breastfeeding.
Men can’t give birth or breastfeed but, apart from that, I don’t think there is anything that sets parents apart (and some women can’t breastfeed anyway). For that reason, I think shared parental leave is a brilliant thing. It allows women to return to work earlier if they wish to and/or if they earn more. It allows fathers the chance to bond with their babies in a very powerful way early on, and it’s good for the babies too. The ideal, obviously, is the version where parents can take long leave together. Yes, companies might take the hit in the short-term, but these parents will return with a new vigour.
Are you a believer in working from home – can you get as much (or more) done?
To an extent. Remote working is great for parents as it means less time commuting and more time with their children. I like a day a week at home, so I can blitz through a load of work while my washing whirls around in the background. To have people corralled in an office just to have bums on seats is short-sighted, but some time spent in the actual company of colleagues is very valuable too.
Why are there so few women in tech, and how can this be improved?
It’s funny when I see the stats because at Conde Nast there were a lot of women in tech; coding, designing, editing, managing social media, producing video and selling ads. And
I suppose it comes down to how you define ‘tech’. Yes, there are fewer visible women in the textbook ‘tech’ world and we do need to spend more time and money encouraging girls towards the industry. But it is beginning to change, and I’m pleased to be part of it.
Check out Tantrum