The duo operates as one of the most senior-level job shares in the country, a partnership forged at a previous organisation.
Hear their thoughts on how job sharing can work for anyone at any level, the benefits and drawbacks, and the practicalities of drawing up a joint CV to take to recruiters.
The pair also draw upon knowledge gained in 45 years of working in IC to give their considered opinion of where we are now and where are going.
Here are our top five takeaways from a fascinating chat.
#1 – Thinking Days are a great way to tackle problems and strategise
Leave the office and go off-site to take time to really think about the big issues.
“We leave the office environment and go somewhere different to consider things. We’ll have had input from our team as to what they think we could fine tune about the team and what we’re delivering. We will assess those and think about the strategic progress of what we’re doing against the role and the priorities we have right now…We come out of those days rejuvenated.”
# 2 – Collaboration is the essence of a good job share
It’s not just about getting together for a perfect handover but collaboration.
“It’s also about both of us being able to tackle a problem, have a think about something – sometimes from different perspectives – which often gets a much better result.
It’s also a very safe place, because if one of us is saying ‘I’m just not sure’ or ‘I’m worried about this’ then there’s always another person to talk to about it.”
# 3 – If the partnership is strong enough, you can even change companies together
Many people are curious and interviewing job-sharers at the same time may be completely new to them, but you have to be clear about what your skillset is and what you can offer.
“Someone told us: ‘You may think you’re double the opportunity, but I think you’re double the risk.’ There were various rounds of scepticism, but I think that was actually quite useful, because it made us think ‘How are we positioning ourselves? What is the value add?’ Sometimes, when you are looking, you could be perceived as a bit of a novelty act, so people want to see you. They want to have a conversation just to see what this would be like. But actually, we spent quite a lot of time really being very clear about what we could bring, what we do, and where our skillset is.”
# 4 – Trust and complementary skills make for a great job-share partner
Don’t look for a clone but some who brings something different and is at the same point in their career as you.
“It’s about sharing the same values and having a trusted person you believe you could work with. They don’t have to be a clone of you – actually it’s better when you have some complementary skills, but also some different things that you bring.
“With job sharing, you are literally sharing your successes and your failures. So, when one of you has landed something brilliantly, you are both celebrating that.”
“But sometimes, earlier in your career, naturally you want to be able to blaze a trail for yourself and get to the point where you are happy to share success. Then you support each other well and motivate each other to do the right thing.”
# 5 – The biggest changes Claire and Louise have seen in their 45 years in IC
Think differently if you want to stay relevant but don’t underestimate the power of face to face.
“The biggest single change has been how we need to think far more about engagement – we’re not just post-boxes.
“Another big change is the science coming into the profession, behavioural economics and neuroscience, as well as technology and social platforms. You need to think very differently about communicating internally to stay relevant, continue to add value, and also be really clear on how to reach people. However, good old-fashioned being together, face to face, will always have a really big place.”