Juggling motherhood, gym instructing and a partnership at an accounting firm may sound like a challenging gig, but it’s totally doable, says Brisbane based mum of five children Sally Hindson.
Hindson, who yes we’ll repeat is a mother of five kids, was elevated to partner at Pilot Partners, in the firm’s taxation services team this week after less than a year with the Brisbane chartered accounting firm.
She is one of a growing number of female accountants challenging stereotypes and outdated ideas about what women can achieve in the accounting world.
She told Women’s Agenda the days of the profession being male-dominated were numbered as the older generation neared retirement and the proportion of women and men is now fairly even as a whole.
“There is certainly no difference in ability between men and women and often the top graduates and chartered accounting candidates are women, so I have to wonder why there is still such an imbalance at the top tiers of the profession,” she said.
“I’m sure there are a number of reasons, only one of them being the traditional expectation that mothers do the lion’s share of work in the home and in raising the kids. I was a stay at home mother for years.
“There have certainly been times that I’ve heard the surprise and comments from the older generation about me working full time as a mother of five.
“Balancing a family and a career is not impossible but at times there are sacrifices to make.
“Raising a family may slow down your career during certain stages of your life but that doesn’t mean your career has to end.”
So how does she manage it all? Hindson offered a few tips.
Accept that it is hard work to balance home life and a career
Juggling home life and a career is never going to be easy. When work opportunities come along you may have to accept that it requires you to go above and beyond to make the most of them. Likewise, when the kids have important events it may mean making up some work time elsewhere so you don’t miss their moments.
Manage your time to get more out of your day
18 months ago I was balancing being a single parent, a full time accountant, studying my masters and instructing at a gym part time. I quickly learned how to work smarter when it comes to daily tasks! For example using a slow cooker for easy meals a couple of times a week or investing in a cleaner on the odd weekend so you have more time to spend with the kids. Additionally I have always encouraged independence and work ethic in my children so if I’m doing housework, then I expect them to help in some way.
Seek employers who can be flexible
I have been a single parent for 4.5 years but even before then I was responsible for most of the work at home. I have worked part-time at times during my career; worked from home on occasion; changed my hours around to suit my kids schedule. I have worked extremely hard (and probably way too many hours) for my employers who allowed this in appreciation. So it was a win, win – the employer got the results and I could be there for the kids if I needed to be and still kept my career progressing at pace.
Sometimes you have to choose quality over quantity
I will admit that I can be distracted by work or other matters when I should be focussing on the kids, which comes with trying to juggle too many things at once. So I have put things is place that make sure we connect and I can really be present – like sitting around the dinner table for dinner with a no electronic devices policy every night; having a regular “date” night of a movie, and popcorn on the couch, taking holidays and trips away with them.
Stay fit and healthy
Remember to look after yourself! I am a part time gym instructor so my day starts very early with either instructing or a workout. As well as role modelling a healthy lifestyle for the kids it clears my mind and sets me up for the day.
40% of Pilot Partners leadership team female
Hindson encourages new female graduates and young accountants to work hard, take opportunities and find ways to be heard.
She said changes to technology were transforming the industry and providing new opportunities for women to grow their careers.
“Clients are changing their expectations of their accountants with less focus on data entry and more focus on interpretation of data, strategic thinking, advisory services and relationships,” said Hindson.
“This provides an opportunity for women, who are often more highly adept in relationship building and communication.”
Pilot Partners taxation partner Murray Howlett praised Sally’s appointment adding that 40 per cent of the firm’s senior leadership team were now women.
“We are excited to have Sally promoted to partner after almost a year as a director in the business,” he said.
“She’s a valuable asset to the firm and her experience in specialist taxation advice adds great depth to our experienced team.
“The different styles that men and women have in their general approach to work can only be of benefit to the accounting profession and to clients, so it is up to us to ensure we embrace diversity.”
Bianca is a contributor to Women’s Agenda and the founder of Financy Women’s Index, which has shown that in the financial year to June 30, the economic progress of Australian women has slowly improved.