Too often the phrases ‘corporate career’ and ‘young children’ are like oil and water; they just don’t mix well. But, for Liesl Malcolm and Pitcher Partners Melbourne, the reality is, thankfully, very much against this norm. As a young mother and Partner at this thriving accounting and financial advisory firm, Liesl may have found the secret formula to making it work. And Pitcher Partners just might be her secret ingredient.
For Liesl, her career is important. But achieving balance between it and her home life is central.
At Pitcher Partners, she says she has benefitted from the firm’s ability to fully embrace her needs and to ensure she is fulfilling her family and personal needs even as she rockets up the corporate ladder.
“I have two children, so I have used parental leave twice. The first time I took around 14 months off, and the second time I had 12 months off.
“I returned to work part time after both periods, working three days a week. Around 18 months after my second parental leave, I increased by part-time hours to four days per week. And about 18 months ago, I gradually increased my workload back to full-time.”
First, you’ll need a smooth return to work process
This may sound like a disjointed and disrupted career journey. But for Liesl this is just how things are meant to look these days. This means, rather than avoiding the topic of career breaks, your focus should be on the best ways to transition back to work after them.
“The return-to-work process at Pitcher Partners was actually pretty straightforward. I discussed with my manager what my ideal arrangements would look like and then we worked out what days would work best. It meant I felt supported returning back to work.”
Next, you’ll need an amazing set of employee benefits and policies
“The firm’s arrangements, culture, and mindset have all made it much easier to balance home life; school pickups and drop offs, and time off to attend other events, while ensuring that all client and staff commitments are met.”
Liesl tells us she works her meeting schedule and work to not clash with the times her children need her there, and that the flexible work arrangements have been instrumental in making hat happen.
The flexibility also allows her and her family to schedule the balance she needs to rest and have fun with her family too.
“Most of my free time is spent as quality time with my family – my husband, two school-aged kids and our pug! I also enjoy going to the gym, reading, and catching up for coffee and wine with friends.”
Of course, benefits and policies don’t work without the right culture
Liesl notes that the firm’s commitment to work-life balance extends to de-stressing the work environment too. She says this was especially evident during COVID:
“The mental health amongst the team and the care shown for each other was paramount. Our well-being was put ahead of everything else.”
Culture is key, Liesl tells us. She wants to emphasize she isn’t referring to a corporate career culture only, oriented towards company goals and profits, but a displayed commitment to respect for the individual and the needs of each and every member of the Pitcher Partners team.
Part of this is building compatible teams, where people actually get along.
“We have a very strong culture of care – working hard but enjoying each other’s company along the way and celebrating the wins.”
Finally, you need a company that wants you to succeed
Speaking of wins, did we mention how many promotions Liesl has had since joining Pitcher Partners 16 years ago?
“I’ve had lots! Analyst, Senior Analyst, Assistant Manager, Manager, Director and now Partner!”
Liesl tells us that “I have progressed my way through Pitcher Partners by learning on every job that comes along and by taking opportunities to grow and extend my capabilities.
“I have also been very fortunate to have so many colleagues along my journey who have genuinely cared about me and my career.”
She also credits the on-going training programs that allow her and her colleagues to grow together and to learn from each other.
“I have been able to benefit from lots of technical and professional development training, such as coaching, presentation skills, how to have difficult conversations, and so on. These have been so useful.”
Liesl adds she was excited to undertake a sponsored valuation course in the US.
She also identifies the firm’s mentor program whereby staff members pair up in a mentor-mentee arrangement which clearly nourishes both parties.
Liesl’s last advice
For young women keen to develop career and family paths, Liesl thinks it’s worth pitching to Pitcher Partners.
She says that for women pursuing a career in corporate finance, an employer like Pitcher Partners ensures there is the opportunity to work as a team and to learn from each other as they go forward.
“Pitcher Partners believes in a team environment, where creative thinking and alternate views are valued, and there’s lots of variety as they assist a range of different clients across many industries.”
“At Pitcher Partners I have felt supported through every stage of my life as well, having kids, returning part time, and then increasing back to full time.
“And most of all, it’s fun!”