Meet another working mom: interview with Sara Müller

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The first time I met Sara was at a PWG event. She presented Jobsharing AG to our members. My fist impression was of someone very positive and energetic, someone who I would like to spend more time with. Needless to say I liked her from the word go. I have met her a few times now and my fist impression remains. She is probably one of the most active mums I know. It’s a joy to be around her and speak with her.

Sara is a mum of a five-year old girl, a wife, an mumpreneur (founder of mammaconnect.ch), entrepreneur (CEO and founder of Jobsharing -Consulting MS AG), book writer, a speaker, an artist (she paints and she holds vernissages with her works), and … ah yes, she is an architect and she had a career as Senior Risk Manager in the finance world. If someone knows a mum who can top this, please let me know!

 

While compiling my list of working mums to interview, her´s was one of the first names that came to mind.

When Sara arrives at my place, she is stressed out due to an issue with her website, but still smiling and bringing only positive vibes. How can she remain so happy and energetic while having a child and a very active business life? How does she organize her life with the impossible time schedule of Zurich child care?

 

Sara: This is the real challenge. I mean, how can we as parents be relaxed if our children have 13 weeks of holidays per year and we only have 4 or 5? And what about those free afternoons when the kindergarten is closed? Not to mention the fact that at lunch time they are supposed to come back home…

 

Ehm… well, this is definitely a good way to start our conversation. My son is still in private daycare, only in two years is he going to the public kindergarten. Her daughter already started the public kindergarten so she is currently having to deal with this very interesting time schedule organization. I relax a little, knowing that I still have time to plan, but listen eagerly to what she is sharing. Mum advise is always welcome!

 

S: Basically if both parents work, you have three choices:  organize a “Tagesmutter”, have a nanny or put him into the ort. All rather high cost options. This system is not working mum friendly. 

 

I could not agree more. If there is something I underestimated before I became a mum, was the Swiss child care system (see also this post Swiss childcare – is this the real reason moms choose not to go back to work full time?). If you are lucky to have flexibility in your workplace you can hopefully manage. But it is still very challenging to organize everything, and if you have late meetings or business trips, your organization quickly becomes very complex. How about her working hours?

 

S: This past year, I focused my energy on my consultancy business: Jobsharing. I held a lot of speeches and interviews, I presented the concept to many companies. I was very busy. Simultaneously I still run my business with mammaconnect. Good and smooth child care is crucial. Last year I decided to resign from the bank and focus on my businesses so now I’m looking for a new job opportunity which allows me to continue work on Jobsharing and mammaconnect and at the same time be flexible enough to cope with the kindergarten schedules.

 

Let’s speak a moment about Jobsharing. I guess that most parents dream of a more flexible way to work in order to combine career and family. Part time jobs for people with managerial positions are very difficult to come by and you are often confronted with two choices: hold a 100% position (or reduce to 80%) or take a step back and find a part time job, which was Sara´s choice some years ago (and following the Swiss Federal office of statistics, preferred choice of Swiss working mums). Is job sharing the solution?

 

S: Yes, it could be but the Swiss market is still not ready for that, it is too conservative and most of the board members do not see (yet) the advantages of this type of work. Job sharing is not about reducing the work time, but sharing a position and its responsibilities. Everyone could benefit from that, not only mums. Actually the Bundesrat is on a job sharing constellation and some of the Heads of Federal Departments (the federal office for health for exemple) have been doing it for a long time.

 

Indeed, it is a new way to look at a job position and it requires a certain open mind and flexibility from both employer and employee to build a proper job sharing culture (more about Jobsharing)

I notice the passion in Sara´s eyes while speaking about this. What about other passions she has?

 

S: After I became I mum three things changed: I had less time to sleep and less time for myself and time for my friends. Lack of sleep was major, I mean, who knew it would be so bad? And time for my hobbies like painting and sport? Nope. Time for my relationships also decreased. Not only with my husband, but also with my friends. That´s why I founded Mammaconnect.

 

Now I’m intrigued. She founded mammaconnect while being on maternity leave. Why was that?

 

S: I felt alone. I could not see my friends because of the baby´s nap and feeding schedule. When they had time to meet, I didn’t . Then I was walking with my buggy, alone, and saw other mothers, alone as well, with their child and I told myself that we should connect and chat. But swiss people  are very reserved and they do not necessarily want to start a conversation with a random mum in the street. So I told myself that we could have a sign that would help us to connect, if we wanted. That’s how my mammaconnect pin was born.

 

And suddenly I see it. Sara is a solution finder. She is in the middle of a problem and instead of complaining, she finds a solution. She keeps speaking about business development for mammaconnect and for Jobsharing, telling me about her plans, her vision for the swiss workforce, her wish for child care… And I’m fascinated about the amount of ideas and insights she provides me within such a short time.

I would love to continue to speak with her and grab some more of her energy, but, alas, our time is over and it is time for her to go home.

She leaves my place in a rush, as she arrived, leaving me in a wave of positive thinking and new ideas.

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