May 16, 2022

Feeling the parent guilt at work? Find support at IGO

parent guilt at work

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During Carolyn Hartmann’s six years at IGO, she has enjoyed a successful and exciting career as an electrical engineer working on a range of projects – from ground-up developments to helping innovate greener technology. In 2018 Carolyn welcomed her first child and she is currently living her best life on her second period of parental leave with her children – traveling around Australia in a caravan! 

One of the biggest challenges Carolyn says she has faced in her career to date is that dreaded feeling of ‘parent guilt’ – often experienced by those who feel pulled between their home and work responsibilities. 

When she brought up her worries with her IGO manager though, Carolyn was pleasantly surprised by the supportive and proactive approach IGO took to help her overcome these feelings. Here she reveals the positive opportunities made available to her so she can continue to progress professionally while giving all the attention she needs to her young family.

IGO is leading the way for change in Australia

When Carolyn was pregnant with her first child, she was disappointed to discover that, like so many women, the amount of time she would be able to take for parental leave would be “limited by the amount of savings in the bank.” 

Luckily, her manager was equally disappointed with what was on offer and brought the issue to the forefront with the relevant people to implement some big changes. 

parent guilt at work

“When I returned to work, I was greeted with inspiring news: IGO had completely reformed its parental leave policy and now offered four months of paid leave, not only to new mothers but also to fathers who wished to be the primary carer. It was at that moment I understood that IGO actually lived by their own value to ‘be better together.” 

Carolyn is proud to be part of an organization that recognizes the importance of creating more equality in parenting – and the knock-on positive impact this can have on women’s careers: 

“IGO is leading the way for change in Australia with regards to shared parental leave. The evidence is clear that shared parental leave allows for more equal parenting and career roles within families.” 

Overcoming the guilt

“It sometimes feels that society’s expectation is for women to work like they don’t have children and to raise children as if they don’t work.”

Many working parents can relate to this idea, but Carolyn has found IGO to be understanding of the different demands of her time, even encouraging her to connect with other mothers in leadership positions to act as her mentors.

parent guilt at work

“IGO sponsored my attendance at the Australian Institute of Management mentoring program, which introduced me to professional mothers who had walked this path before. Meeting these mothers, who now hold board member positions or consult with industry CEOs, made me realize that I, too, can find a way through the maze of meetings, milestones, and site trips.”

Bringing development opportunities direct to its employees

Although she has spent more than a decade in the mining industry – joining straight from university – Carolyn has worked at only two companies. She credits her “wonderful managers (mates and mentors)” for creating all the professional opportunities and progression she’s ever needed, so she hasn’t felt pushed to pursue them elsewhere.

“Mining provides a prosperous lifestyle for myself and my family, and I feel incredibly fortunate to live in WA, which is such a mineral-rich location.” 

The work of an electrical engineer is important, varied, and exciting. In her first role with IGO, Carolyn helped deliver the build of the Nova processing plant ahead of schedule and under budget. Following this, she turned to the maintenance and operations teams, implementing a system of electronic tagging of underground workers so that the emergency response team could be deployed to the required location as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency.

But after starting her family, Carolyn knew she’d have to make some changes to her working life – and once again, IGO were right behind her, supporting her all the way.

parent guilt at work

“I realized very quickly that as much as I enjoyed my work, I wouldn’t be able to go on site for eight days each fortnight. Thankfully, IGO’s flexible work policy allowed me to re-join the FIFO team on reduced site days, while also being able to come home to my family most nights.”

Every day is a gift we must treasure

What motivates Carolyn in all areas of her life is the awareness that “life is precious.” She reminds us that we all only get “one shot at life, so we better make the most of it.” And as a consequence of this mindset, she says she always puts in 110%, whether at work or with her family. Seizing each and every opportunity now sees her “making the most of every minute of her parental leave to travel around Australia, exploring the many wonderful places in this great country.” 

It’s something she couldn’t imagine doing without such a supportive employer:

“I consider myself very fortunate to enjoy professional success, while cherishing the precious time I have with my children.”

IGO has ambitious women in leadership and leadership targets and a range of flexible working options.

Find out about these and other employee benefits.

Find your own definition of success

Whatever stage you are in your career, it’s important to identify what success looks like for you, as it will mean different things to different people. For Carolyn, it’s “being fulfilled and happy, creating life experiences that will become treasured memories in years to come.” Thinking about the future, she hopes to move into a leadership role where she can be “walking evidence that outdated executive management stereotypes need to be eradicated.” 

When you’re thinking about your next career move, Carolyn encourages everyone to find a way of working that means you can:

“Love your life! Find a fabulous team of people to work with and a company like IGO who will support your dream to make life a spectacular adventure.”

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About the Author
Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job. Check out the latest job vacancies with IGO