Adam is a Sydney-based working dad and Senior Manager of Audit and Assurance at KPMG Australia. Adam has 10+ years audit and assurance experience across the UK and Australian KPMG firms, successfully leading multiple large engagement teams primarily in the FMCG, Telecommunications, Gaming, Pharmaceutical, Distribution and Manufacturing sectors. In May 2016, Adam Bird became a first-time father to Ari Jayden Bird and took three weeks paid parental leave from his senior manager position at KPMG in Sydney.
Adam’s Parental Leave Story
“I took a full three weeks off when he was born, which was amazing, the weather in Sydney was warm and we’d go out for walks as a family, that time was absolutely amazing.”
Adam went back to work full time after that, as his wife was on maternity leave. The following February Adam’s wife returned to full time work as her employer did not offer part-time or flexible work arrangements. Adam took the opportunity to approach his employer, KPMG about working part-time. As a result, Adam began working three days a week and caring for his 8-month old son, Ari, two days a week.
“For 15 weeks I had two days a week at home with the little guy. The entitlement was that I could have had 15 weeks off full-time, it’s an amazing thing what KPMG do, but it hadn’t really been done before so I sort of did the half measure. I was at the point in time in my career – that I thought – and it’s probably the wrong thought – but I’d just taken on a department senior manager role, and it felt wrong to me to be off full time. For those 15 weeks, having the flexibility to do the part time I got the best of both worlds, it meant I could maintain my client relationships, not lose out at work but also have that special one on one time with the little guy.”
“I think that’s opened the door there [in my department], it was not that well known and I guess following my story which I shared with the group in our department newsletter, now it’s more widely known and common.”
According to Adam the most challenging thing about his flexible work arrangement was time and expectation management.
“I felt like I was flat out most of the time, not necessarily flat out with work but flat out looking after the little guy, it gave me a really big respect for what my wife had done when she was off full time.”
Adam also discovered something else.
“Before my wife went back full time, she was the favourite, then I had extra time with him, I became the favourite, it sounds competitive but it’s not… it’s just because I got that extra time with him and we developed that relationship.”
Adam and Ari’s days were filled with swimming lessons and mother’s group, where he was the only dad and therefore the only one to raise the gender bias issue when it came to song time.
“I was the only dad, I enjoyed it and they were all really impressed that I was going. I was the only dad there, so when it came to the ‘wheels on the bus’ song and ‘the dads on the bus go snore, snore, snore’, I had to say something, we can’t be brainwashing the kids that all dads do is snore!”
Adam believes if more and more people take parental leave it will become the norm and not out of the ordinary.
“I encourage people who’ve got the offer to do it and take it, and then share their story. It’s breaking down those old historic thoughts about who does what and when, and championing the fact that for young children it’s important that they have time with both mother and father, and you work on those relationships earlier rather than later because time flies by pretty fast.”
Pros and Cons?
“The Pros are building the relationship, it gives you more time to work your little man out, what makes him tick, all those little cues you get just by spending time so you just become better friends with your children which is absolutely amazing, I wouldn’t swap it for the world.”
“The cons are – it’s not easy not being at work and being part time – you’re as busy, if not busier. Doing the balancing act that I did is probably harder but ultimately it’s a huge perk of the job that KPMG have let me do, it’s given me that benefit of time with my boy.”
Next year Adam will become a father for the second time, and he’ll use the skills he learned from his first experience as part of the flexible workforce of Australia’s working parents.
“I’ve gone through that period and now I’m back to working full time but it makes me think a bit more and plan a bit more. Certain days can be flexible, if I can work later one day and leave earlier another day then I can be there to pick Ari up from day care or get home early so we can go to the park as a family. That period trained me to have more focus in the future.”
About KPMG’s Parental Leave Policy
“Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting and important aspects of life. At KPMG we provide a number of benefits to support our people and to assist them in fulfilling a work-life balance. To do this, we recognise that a flexible work culture is critical. Flexibility gives our people the freedom, trust and empowerment to choose the way they work to deliver the best outcomes for themselves, their clients, their team and the firm.”
Danielle Finnimore, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, KPMG