MotherBoard – feat. Rin Hamburgh, founder of Rin Hamburgh & Co
The purpose of our ‘MotherBoard’ content series is to highlight incredible working mums within tech & data, as well as businesses that are supportive and progressive within their approach to creating more inclusive tech & data teams for women.
Amber @ ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself, your role and why you feel supporting MotherBoard is so important?
Rin: I’m the founder of Rin Hamburgh & Co, a copywriting agency based in Bristol, and mum to 6-year-old identical twin girls. I launched the business when the girls were just 9 months old, so I became a mum and a business owner at around the same time, which was pretty intense! I believe that anything that supports women in business is important, since there is still so much inequality, sadly. Supporting mothers in particular is something that I feel strongly about
because while having children is a joy, it also brings its own challenges, particularly in relation to work.
Amber @ ADLIB: As the founder of Rin Hamburgh & Co and a mum, what does a typical day look like for you?
Rin: I usually start work around 8:30am when my partner takes the children to school, and I try to finish up at 5pm. For the most part I’m strict about not working beyond this or on weekends. I honestly think I’m more productive if I get the balance right. During the working day time is split between lots of different areas: sales and marketing, client delivery on the strategy side, looking after my team, planning for the future. I try to work in half day ‘blocks’, which (when it works) helps me focus so I don’t feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions.
Amber @ ADLIB: How have you managed to build a successful career, whilst also embarking on
motherhood and what challenges have you faced?
Rin: The biggest challenge was the lack of childcare in the early days. I was a single mum until the girls were 3, with limited financial support. I could only afford two days of nursery to start with and had to fit everything else into nap times, evenings and weekends. It was tiring but also emotionally difficult because I never felt like I was doing a good job either at work or at home. That said, it did force me to dig deep and find a strength and resilience I might otherwise not have known I possessed. It’s certainly made me braver because I know now how much I can withstand if I need to.
Amber @ ADLIB: Can you tell us a little bit about how you found pregnancy, going on maternity and returning to work and is there anything you wish you had known in hindsight?
Rin: I was super lucky in that I had a great pregnancy and really enjoyed it, despite there being some concern about one of the twins being small, which meant I had fortnightly scans from 12 weeks until they were born. Sadly, I didn’t really get to take a maternity leave, since I became a single mum so quickly and couldn’t afford not to work. I do sometimes wish I’d had more time to rest and just enjoy the babies but equally I’m proud of what I accomplished in that time.
Amber @ ADLIB: How do you balance being a mother and a founder of a successful business? And what effect does this have on your personal life?
Rin: I’m very fortunate in that my partner works part time and therefore does the lion’s share of the childcare and looking after the house. It’s not something I expected but I’m pleased that the girls are seeing the gender role reversal playing out so successfully. Probably the hardest thing for me is the classic mummy guilt, especially when one of the kids says something like, “But why can’t you take us to school today?” I feel even more guilty about taking ‘me time’ so it’s an ongoing battle to try and get the balance right for everyone. But I do feel that I’m getting better at it day by day.
Amber @ ADLIB: How can businesses help women re-adjust when returning to work from maternity? And what experiences have you had?
Rin: Motherhood is one of those things that you simply can’t understand until it’s happened to you. The hormones alone are so intense, not to mention sleep deprivation and all the rest. My sister recently had her first baby and even though she saw up close all that I went through with the twins, she was still knocked sideways by the reality of it. So although I don’t have any experience of going back to an employed position after maternity leave, my instinct is that the ‘return to work’ process should always be designed by mothers who have been there and done that.
Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think the government needs to do to support mums more to make it easier to balance a career and parenting?
Rin: One of my big bugbears is the nonsensical rules around self-employed mums and maternity pay. If you’re employed and on maternity leave, you’re allowed to do freelance work on the side and it doesn’t impact your statutory maternity pay. But if you’re self-employed it’s either / or. You can’t do even a couple of hours of work or you lose that week’s maternity pay. I also think that free childcare should be available on a much more flexible basis. At the moment you can get a free full time nursery place when your child is 3 but nothing before that. For many women, it would be easier to have fewer hours per week but start them when their little one is that bit younger. That way there would be less of a career gap to overcome.
Amber @ ADLIB: Do you have any final words of advice to our readers about balancing being a mum and having a successful career?
Rin: One thing I’ve really been trying to learn is to be kind to myself. It’s not possible to be perfect all of the time – or even most of the time. Sometimes you shout at your kids because you’re up against a big deadline. Sometimes you forget something important at work because you’ve been up all night with a poorly child. We have to remember that good enough is exactly that