A Cityfather's Diary

clock Released On 31st Jan 2018

Lawrence's blog: Wisdom from an old Jamaican

With my wife’s maternity leave having come to an end, she recently resigned from her part-time in-house marketing job in the city in order to take up a new full-time position working from home line managing three young girls; a ‘lippy’ but sweet four (soon to be five year old) and our nine month old twins. Needless to say, the new post is more demanding than the last, in part due to the synchronised 5:30pm daily meltdowns from the twins that were not within the job description (they have some sort of built-in requirement to kick-off just around the time the evening routine begins to bottleneck (i.e. with dinner, baths, bottles, homework etc) and if they don’t get their evening bottle by 6pm there is hell to pay).  Unfortunately, I am of little help during the week given I am either home too late to be of any practical use, or get home only to have to do more work.  Oh, an important side note - the new role only pays in the form of the occasional emotional gratitude (not a currency currently accepted by the main high-street supermarkets, even Lidl).

Whilst we both agreed early on that my wife returning to work made no financial sense (particularly given nursery sibling discounts are a mere slap in the face and reminder that twins do not benefit from economies of scale), we did so when we were knee-deep in new-born nappies and trying to stop our four year old from playing antenatal nurse and overdosing the twins with Infacol behind our backs; the end of my wife’s maternity leave seemed a lifetime away.

Fast forward nine months and the reality is about to set in. In anticipation, I did what I’m sure other households do more regularly, an internal audit of our household finances.  Whilst we are by no means in a precarious position (at least not precarious enough for me to consider cancelling our various cable and streaming subscriptions). It has refocused the need for me to think about sensitive topics such as future progression in my current role and my market worth.

My dad always told me what his father had told him – “don’t chase down money, skill up and reward will follow” (at least I think that’s what the message was - I have had to de-sanitise it somewhat given it has been relayed through the ages in Jamaican Patois).  I am lucky enough to be in a profession where it is, theoretically at least, possible to move roles for an incremental pay increase. This coupled with recently becoming a single income household has made me carefully consider my options over the past few weeks.  

On the one hand, I enjoy multiple aspects of my current role; the flexibility, the work and to a certain extent the pressure; starting again in a new job (if I could get one) is daunting, to say the least. On the other, progression in my current role is no certainty, reward is somewhat stagnant and the costs of raising three children is only going to increase. 

After much procrastinating I decided to have an honest conversation with one of the partners at work, one with whom I felt I could have a frank conversation without fear of just hearing corporate spiel and retention intended smoke being blown up my appendage.  I was hesitant at first about doing this for fear of being labelled a potential ‘flight risk’ or a ‘whining’ team member. However, we ended up having a great discussion and openly discussed progression paths and their potential barriers, my ‘value’ to the team, upskilling and the merits of looking outside the firm.  Long story short, but this initial conversation helped reaffirm my desire to stay put and commit to moving forward and I hope will also serve as the springboard for me to have confident, value led discussions about remuneration later in the year.

What have I learnt from this experience? Well, for now, it’s that taking stock of your current situation is important and if possible, having an open conversation with your employer can at the very least help ensure you make informed decisions; whether that be around the remit of your current role, remuneration, or deciding it is time for a change. You may find, like I did, that such a discussion is a refreshing surprise and provides you with renewed impetus (whatever your ultimate decision).

For me, whilst we will remain a single income household for the time being which may involve some cloth cutting, I have at least been shown the direction of potential progression, it would, of course, be great if ‘reward will follow’ at some point. In the short term, given I have chosen to stay put and not as my Grandfather put it ‘chase down money’, I might just check whether it’s possible to get baby formula and nappies on PCP!

Lawrence works as a Senior M&A Manager at a professional services firm in the city and is father to 3 gorgeous girls, a four (going on 14) year old and nine month old twins.


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