Jane Hatfield is the Chief Executive of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), a professional membership body for doctors and nurses who work in sexual and reproductive health.
She took some time out of her busy day to tell us about her career, family-life and how she manages the work-family-life juggle…
Photography by the phenomenally talented Demelza Lightfoot | (c) Demelza Lightfoot Photography
Thanks so much for talking to us Jane. Let’s start with who lives in your house?
I live with my partner Gali, a film curator, and my children Saul, 8 and Alma, 5 – plus we normally have an au pair living with us too.
What are your mornings like?
Fairly fraught – unless I get up very early and go into work and leave it all to my partner! Otherwise it’s the ‘typical’ thing of trying to get the kids ready for school and get ourselves ready for work with quite a lot of running up and down the stairs and last-minute raised voices…
What has motherhood taught you?
Motherhood has taught me two things – that it is much harder to remain adult in situations with your kids than you think it will be… and that it is even harder to try to be in control in all situations with kids – and sometimes you just have to ‘let it go’ (thank you Elsa).
“It was nerve wracking applying for CEO roles but I realised I had enough experience to do it.”
Did you take time off work when you had your family?
When I had Alma, I took a year’s maternity leave from my job as a director in a breast cancer charity and then chose to leave shortly afterwards to look for a CEO role. So actually having maternity leave gave me some time to think about what I wanted. And the experience convinced me that I would not be a full time ‘stay at home’ mother (all respect to those who do it brilliantly!). It was a bit nerve wracking applying for CEO roles but I realised I had enough experience to do it.
How do you manage work around the children?
It creates useful boundaries – I am more efficient in how I work, knowing I need to be home by a certain time. But it would be impossible without a very practical supportive partner and the help of a live-in au pair.
“Be confident, even if you don’t feel it.”
What are your best tips for other working mums about to re-enter the work force?
Be confident, even if you don’t feel it. I love to employ part-time mothers/parents, as they are often looking to trade seniority for flexibility and are highly skilled, very experienced and extremely efficient in the use of their time. They are model employees!
Tell us about your current role and how you got there.
I am the Chief Executive of a professional membership body for doctors and nurses who work in sexual and reproductive health (particularly contraception). I was looking for my first CEO role having worked for many years in charities and I was attracted to this role because they were looking for someone to ‘modernise’ a very good, but somewhat old-fashioned organisation. This has given me a fantastic opportunity to bring about change in order to ensure we can have more impact on the care women and men receive from the NHS. Free contraception for women has transformed our lives – it is so important that women get the choice of contraception they need, when they need it.
“I love being able to bring about change.”
When did you first become interested in the line of work that you’re in?
When I left university I did voluntary work in the UK and then in Kenya. In both places I worked with women and girls facing similar issues – poverty, low self-esteem, sexual violence, unplanned pregnancy and, in Kenya, HIV/AIDS. These experiences confirmed for me that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector, tackling health issues, particularly those that impact on women and disadvantaged groups.
What do you love about your role?
I love being able to bring about change and I love working with many different healthcare professionals who are passionate about the work they do.
What has been your best career moment to date?
Probably meeting with (then Prime Minister) David Cameron and successfully persuading him to include changes in the National cancer plan that would directly benefit women with secondary (metastatic) breast cancer.
“I want my children to see work as a meaningful part of life in which you can make a contribution to something bigger than yourself.”
What is your ‘at work’ drink?
It’s caffeine all the way – a latte at home, one on the way at St Expresso on Baker Street, and at least one in the office…
Do you have a funny parenting moment you’d like to share?
My children are donor conceived and know quite a lot about how babies are made. There was a slightly awkward/funny moment when my son – aged about 6 – was walking along the street with me and said loudly ‘so I know how babies are made in a clinic but how exactly are they made at home?’, just as a man walked by. He looked both amused and slightly aghast.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I see work as an important part of life… it gives meaning to my life and I don’t see the two things as being at odds. I want my children to see work as a meaningful, and ideally enjoyable, part of life in which you can make a contribution to something bigger than yourself.
Both Gali and I work full-time so it would be impossible for us to make it work without an au pair (or some other form of reliable and flexible childcare – we don’t have grandparents nearby). Having an au pair works really well for us – to have someone living in who can be flexible about childcare is amazing. The children can be at home with her or him (our next one is a young man!) and I also think it has been good for them to get to know our au pairs – they learn so much from them and they appreciate having a young person around (who knows about pop music that isn’t from the 80s!)
“Stop feeling guilty working mums, you are great role models for your daughters.”
What’s your approach to health and well-being?
One way I try to try to stay sane is by exercising – I am trying to be ‘fit for 50’ and not feel bad about spending money on a personal trainer who I meet in the park near my work twice a week. This is (mostly) fun and makes sure I don’t just sit at my desk/on the tube every day. I am more conscious of the need to be fit and stay healthy as I get older. I also try to take the occasional weekend to do something for myself (without the children) whether its walking with a friend or even cross country skiing (that was a week actually!). I try not to be too much of a martyr about giving all my time to the children as I become resentful (and take it out on them eventually).
Describe 3 things you can’t live without in the day.
Caffeine, carbohydrates and ideally compliments (this does not necessarily mean that I get them!)
Name a recent discovery that you love.
Water fights in the garden.
What do you like reading for leisure?
A Colm Toibin novel – he writes as/about women so brilliantly.
Do you have a favourite holiday destination?
My ideal holiday would involve walking up mountains and then having some time at a beach at the end. This is hard to make work with children…but I’m working on it.
What are your top tip for other working mums?
There is a great piece of research that shows the only difference between kids who have mums in full time work and those who have ‘stay at home’ mums is that the daughters of the working mums get more senior jobs when they are grown up. So stop feeling guilty working mums, you are great role models for your daughters. And stay at home mums – don’t envy working women – come and work part-time for me!