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Professional women's alternatives of totally Opting out

(40 Posts)
RosebudIncubator Sun 06-Mar-11 14:19:26

My kids are almost 4 and 2.5. Recently I have been asked by lots of freinds, family and even distant aquaintences what I'm planning to do. (Last year I managed a major house refurb and extention, which is now finished, so they are looking what I get upto next )
Having been a business consultant working all hours, all over the country, after having DD I was "offered" to return 5 days a week, as the job "could only" be done 5 days a week. I left the job and have enjoyed my time off, doing my projects, looking after kids, etc.
One thing that has started to occupy my thoughts more and more is- surely there are a lot of professional women, like me, who have opt-out of the workforce. That is a huge brain drain.
Are there any cooperatives, networks of such women? Places where women can find projects that fit around their family life and keep them in touch with business?

ssd Sun 06-Mar-11 14:32:50

nope

Forster Sun 06-Mar-11 14:35:06

'women like us' is a recruitment agency, mainly London based that tends to have flexible jobs

reallytired Sun 06-Mar-11 14:42:37

Loads of ridiculously over qualifed women become TAs in schools or do volentary work.

Or you could do something like sell Osbourne books, or do you have any business ideas of your own?

You need to make a list of your skills and think what you could do. Maybe a course in bookkeeping might be useful.

LCarbury Sun 06-Mar-11 14:43:51

Maybe you could become a magistrate or local councillor?

Rosenbud Sun 06-Mar-11 15:00:44

Thanks for the input!

I guess I'm looking for a way to go back to the excitement of my old job (without the silly hours, or at least less of these) but be able to "job share" it with others in similar situations.

"women like us" looks like a fab site, pity it's only London!

I have looked into franchaises and sale of cosmetics and other things- don't thenk they are for me.

KatieMiddleton Sun 06-Mar-11 15:08:54

I agree it's such an utter waste. Have you considered job sharing? There is a recruitment company who do just that called www.eatyourcake.co.uk they might be worth a look?

But there are loads of networks set up for working women. Some are a bit low brow but some are great. Do a google in your area.

I suspect a little part time job selling books or cosmetics is not going to press your buttons. Have you thought about voluntary work? No money in it obviously but you can do as little or as much as you like.

However, your previous job as a management consultant means you can look at contract work? It's well paid, you get to choose what projects you do and you set your day rate. There are several agencies around who'd probably bite your hand off. Especially in change management.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 06-Mar-11 15:16:09

Thanks for the links Forster and KatieMiddleton - really helpful for me. smile

KatieMiddleton Sun 06-Mar-11 15:30:01

Let me know if end up setting up your own network or company doing management consultancy contracts and you need an HR consultant wink

Because that's all driven people need - a gap in the market to take advantage of. Perhaps that's your solution?

Forster Sun 06-Mar-11 16:39:03

Consultancy work or directorships.
I agree shame there is not a WLU in other parts of the country.
I need to keep my hand in and I am tentatively trying a consultancy role working for various firms. Time will tell whether it is more flexible but I think it will be.

BetsyBoop Sun 06-Mar-11 21:07:19

OP are you me in disguise? grin

Very similar situation here - 5yo started school last Sept & 3yo. I was in a demanding senior management role (60-80hours/week, lots of travel etc) pre kids. In theory I could have gone back 4 days (but saw what they did to someone else supposedly on 4 days, but no actual reduction in workload so politely declined...)

Surely there must be something I can do that uses my brain but will fit in with family life?

(unfortunately no where near London WLU looks fab...)

amidaiwish Sun 06-Mar-11 21:10:20

if you think WLU looks so fab then why not set one up OUTSIDE london?

come on you people!

amidaiwish Sun 06-Mar-11 21:11:36

please link to WLU, can't find it. thanks

amidaiwish Sun 06-Mar-11 21:17:37

got it wlu

FannyPriceless Sun 06-Mar-11 21:19:31

Same situation here. If anyone decides to start a collective for senior management can you count me in? I am an ex-CEO with two under 3 and have no idea how to jig things so that I can use my skills and experience to earn loads of dosh a decent rate for part time work.

Surely this must be possible? I feel so wasted but the world of work does not seem set up to fit me into it.

I have tried the consultancy thing but it is quite exhausting and stressful trying to a) win the work, and b) juggle the projects to fit in with pre-booked childcare days. And then you are stuck with paying for the childcare when the workload fluctuates... gaaah!

ChickenTonight Sun 06-Mar-11 21:28:33

Go out on your own as a consultant. I did, nearly a year ago, and so far it's working fine. Yes the downsides are: paying for childcare when you haven't got any work (but when your eldest starts school this won't be so much of a problem); having to put yourself 'out there' to find the work; and sometimes having too much on (I've just been on deadline with 2 contracts over half term, which was far from ideal) but on the upside: you can work flexibly and mostly from home; you can charge top dollar for the work you do and you're in charge of your own destiny.

As you've worked as a business consultant before - albeit for a company rather than freelance - you've got all the skills to hand re winning new business, pricing up work, delivering the goods. You'll be brilliant..

KatieMiddleton Mon 07-Mar-11 00:54:21

Perhaps a MN network of women who have aspirations but not necessarily the inclination to do the 9-5 slog?

This thread could be the first of many...

BTW Women Like Us is a a social enterprise set up by mums who felt they had more to give. I've met one of the founders and found her to be very credible. I think they're London centric because that's where they're based and there's more jobs in London than anywhere else - but I don't think they're exclusively London IYSWIM.

Rosenbud Mon 07-Mar-11 02:37:12

ChickenTonight- you highlight my point: as a freelance consultant one very often faces the feast and famine cycle. Not knowing when the next famine is coming makes it very difficult to refuse work or say no to deadlines in the middle of half term.

Childcare becomes complicated and often expensive.

I experienced it a bit last year through the project management I was doing on the house reburb- there are deadlines that one really needs to meet. I was lucky- the kids go to a nursery 1 -2 days a week and there I could more or less ask for more days as needed, but half term work slowed down. There I was the employer, so I could do it.

I found that I very easily lost the balance between work commitments and family commitments. I fear the same would happen if I took up freelance consulting and the client suddenly started wanting more. (Don't get me wrong kids are fun, but solving adult problems are so much more fun, especially being paid for it)

KatieMiddleton- thanks for the link to Eat your cake- very interesting!
By "networks set up for women"- do you mean networking, support type networks? or WLU type networks?

Forster- how old are your littlins? How is the juggling working out?

BetsyBoop is right- There must be a better way that we can "have our cake and eat it".

Would welcome any further links that anyone has come across to recruitment agencies, networks, organisations who are addressing this need for flexible working at relatively senior levels.

controlgrouprequired Mon 07-Mar-11 05:55:25

Take a look at a website called capability Jane.
I think it's capabilityjane.com

ssd Mon 07-Mar-11 09:40:59

hope you find something op, I didn't realise there are websites for this sort of thing, good luck and let us know how you get on!

seoraemaeul Mon 07-Mar-11 09:54:02

I was "saved" from this dilemma by us moving abroad to a country where the local language makes it challenging to work here in a professional capacity. So for the last year I swapped my high flying career for being a SAHM but it was an easy decision as the kids were little and as I say because of the move.
In the summer we move again but this time both little ones will be in full time primary school and we're going somewhere that english is the accepted business language. I'm dreading it! I want to work, but I know I'll struggle to get "mummy friendly" hours and keep the level of career I had (even with a step backwards I suspect it will be really hard). And consulting would come not only with all the feast and famine issues but also in a new country with no contacts.
So ... do I suck it up and take a job which I would have considered beneath me in London but gives me some flexibility on time, do I carry on staying at home, or do I hand over the kids to a nanny and go back to the rat race? And of course what does all that mean for 5 years time when we head back home?

Sorry to hijack the thread but this has been preying on my mind for a while and I've not really had a chance to articulate it before. confused

whimsicalname Mon 07-Mar-11 13:49:07

I used to have a consultancy job I loved. It was hard to juggle with one child, and I was made redundant when on maternity leave with my second.

I'm now just finishing a PhD. Well, I would be if weren't for the distracting allure of the internet.

No one's ever going to get rich being a research student, but it's a useful contribution (I took on a funded project) and if you're used to working actually full time, 'full time' research really isn't that much of a sweat. And it's very flexible.

Although there's not much money about at the moment for post doctoral work, I'm hoping to get enough work to justify two days a week nursery for the baby. The other two are at school.

Academic work is great because it's immediately interesting work, without too much less interesting faff - getting contracts, admin, management stuff. At least, that's what's interesting to me. I appreciate others of you might differ!

amidaiwish Mon 07-Mar-11 14:04:33

interesting whimsicalname
what was your PhD in?

controlgrouprequired Mon 07-Mar-11 14:13:32

*OP *- I was thinking the same of late. I am applying to go back to work part time. At the moment my employer is taking its sweet time in responding. So in the meantime I am looking for alternatives, and finding jobs that suit my skills that are part time of flexible is difficult.

whimsicalname I am thinking of doing a PHD.

I have worked as a consultant in sales for a long time and now with 2 kids under the age of 4 I would like something more flexible that will still enable me to use my brain.

Just out of curiosity how did you go about finding your PHD funded project?

Any tips would be welcome!

whimsicalname Mon 07-Mar-11 16:12:39

I'm afraid an ex colleague saw mine advertised, and let me know as they knew i was thinking about more academic work. Not much help unless you can get him on side too!

If you look at the research councils, they tend to advertise when they have them available. Or you could approach a faculty at a local university that looks interesting and see what opportunities they have coming up. I think returning mums are probably quite a good bet in terms of reliability, and better at fitting in with faculty than 22 year olds straight from under grad.

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