Anna Ives was made redundant during pregnancy, leaving her panicked and in shock. She managed to work up until her baby was born but then found there were too few part time HR roles to return to employment, so she set up her own consultancy. Here’s her inspiring story…
The 5am feed – back in those early days of having a newborn – used to be one of my favourite times of the morning, and I honestly look back and miss that. Somehow we had made it through another night (not sure if it was just me but I always found the nights a little scary and daunting in the early days as a first-time parent). That first feed of a new day though, all warm and snug in the nursing chair, just me and baby, in the early peace and quiet before the day started all over again… that was nice.
Fast forward a year, and mornings are now quite different. I do get to enjoy a few leisurely mornings a week (if you can ever say that having a child) but I also work three days a week while my little girl is looked after by my mother and mother-in-law.
I had a pretty standard story up until I became pregnant in March 2015. I went to university, studied business and specialised in HR, then took my first job as a HR Assistant in the NHS. I then decided I wanted to further my career and had a great mentor, who advised me to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). To do this I needed to go back to uni to gain a Masters, which I did while working full time.
After working in HR for almost 10 years I found myself in the position of HR business partner, working for an insurance company. I was recently married and we had started trying for a baby. It all happened quite quickly and I found myself pregnant in a few months.
Then one day I went into work (I was only a couple of months pregnant and hadn’t even told work) and it was announced that I was being made redundant. It was terrible; I was in shock but I knew I had to keep in control for the baby.
I left the company but decided to keep working where I could up until I had my little girl. I would have loved that time off but I knew it was more important to have time off when she came, so I took a couple of temping roles.
When she was about antidepressants over the counter nine months, I decided it was time for me to go back to work. I wanted to go back to something part time and we would need for me to do some work to help support the family financially too.
I really struggled to find a flexible part time HR role, which does sound hard to believe. However, it seems when part time roles come up they go quickly. A lot of roles are also advertised as full time maternity cover, then when that person returns from maternity leave they apply to go part time, promptly closing off that gap in the market.
I have since found some great websites that advertise part time roles specifically for mums, such as Working Mums. I’m a now one of their HR experts and I answer HR questions for those who need support on issues such as flexible working.
It had always been a dream of mine to have my own business and the time felt right to take the leap. So I ‘gave birth’ to my second baby – HR Puzzle – an independent HR consultancy. I specialise in helping SMEs (small and medium enterprises) ideally with between 5-15 employees, as at that stage you will almost certainly need some HR support.
I offer services that range from one-off pieces of work such as contract/ policy/ employee handbook writing – to on-going employee support, which can be offered on a monthly retainer. I specialise in working with parents who have their own businesses, as I find it’s great to share common ground.
I have a hot desk in a business centre, where I am lucky enough to work with others starting up their own businesses. It’s a great place to work and so helpful to have the support of others in similar working situations. I also get to pick my working hours, which is one of the reasons why I decided to set up my own business in the first place.
Next time you are up at 5am, don’t forget these times won’t last long and when they do you will miss them. A little leaving tip I try and live by since having my little one: follow your passion and find your joy in something small every day – whether that’s your little one’s laugh, a cup of hot tea or writing down some goals. Being a parent is hard enough without you being hard on yourself too.