In terms of life changes, becoming a parent’s one of the big ones. With it comes a whole new world of emotions, challenges and demands. Balancing this with a satisfying but full-on career and all of the associated responsibilities is a difficult ask. Technical Director David Lawton outlines his experience of paternity leave.
I found that whilst good paternity support is important, what helped me most in enjoying and being fully present for the first few weeks of fatherhood was the loyalty, capability and adaptability of my team and the good-will and trust of my clients.
All meaningful relationships start with trust and confidence. When I found out I was going to be a father, my clients and colleagues couldn’t have been happier for me, and I knew that I would be able to count on their support for those important first months. I worked with my colleagues to shape a paternity plan that would minimise the amount of travel that I’d need to do in the months before and after the birth, offer flexible working as and when needed, and give me quality uninterrupted time at home to adjust to and enjoy our new arrival. When our daughter, Lyra, was born early, our plans swung into action and I was able to be 100% focussed on spending time with my new family, knowing that colleagues weren’t left in the lurch and clients were being well looked after.
There’s nothing more unsettling than worrying about whether things are being well managed whilst you’re away from the office. Because I had complete trust in the team to look after things with the level of diligence, responsiveness and quality that our clients expect, I was able to really enjoy my paternity leave - despite the inevitable lack of sleep, fairly seismic lifestyle changes, and simultaneously looking after our 80kg fur baby, Seamus.
Despite having to temporarily step away from large clients that needed to be kept happy, as well as a number of challenging in-flight delivery projects that needed to be kept on track, I didn’t need to check my emails once. I didn’t need to take any calls or dial into any ‘emergency’ meetings whilst I was doing my best to learn to be a dad. I knew that if something critical did come up, I could choose to be as involved as I wanted to be whilst my team happily rallied round to manage any issues that did come up. I was given the space to spend with my beautiful new family, knowing that my professional commitments and responsibilities were in dependable hands.
My experience is that the things that made the biggest difference to my paternity and return to work weren’t just the company’s policies and entitlements, but the people-focussed culture and values which mean that as a team we respect, support and encourage each other through whatever changes we all need to adapt to.
So, I’d like to offer up my sincerest thanks to all of my fantastic colleagues, and our understanding clients. Because of you all, I was able to have a precious and uninterrupted few weeks of new fatherhood.