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Full-time mummy and family: how does that work?

May I introduce you to Michelle Cooper, National Manager, People & Performance for Peoplebank. Michelle is a working mum who works full-time and manages the work/life balance with her small son. Read how she makes it work for her.

I have been working for Peoplebank Australia Limited since 2001. My role of National Manager, People & Performance, means I am responsible for all people programs and HR support for our 6 interstate branches. We have approximately 220 employees and 3,000 contractors.

I consider myself very fortunate in that I absolutely love my job. The challenge this created was that I would lose track of time and be in the office into the evenings, and continue once I got home. So my role was very much more than a 38 hour week!

Now, I work in the office Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays, and I work from home on Thursdays and Fridays. On the days I am in the office, I leave at 4pm which allows me to spend some quality time with my 2.5 year son of an evening. I am so much more organised in planning my days, deliverables for the week, and I ensure my team know that I am available.

The experience of requesting a flexible work arrangement with my manager, the CEO of Peoplebank (Peter Acheson), was pleasantly surprising. I prepared my discussion thoroughly, called Peter before returning, put my needs across to him and reasons why. Peter’s response was 100% supportive. He didn’t mind how my days were structured, or where I performed my work, as long as I meet my deliverables. Without realising, we set a precedent for the company – as I was the first executive leadership team member, with direct reports, to work flexible hours and work from home.

The juggle? I truly believe every working mum would understand the complexities of juggling work and family. I am one of those mums that believed I could do everything and put myself last. My husband is also trying to start his own business which comes with its own challenges.


I have had to tweak my ‘juggle’ constantly, and I continue to do so.  However there are some non negotiables, for example:

·    No work meetings are scheduled beyond 4pm, and I am out of the office by 4.10pm

·    I am home of an evening to have dinner with the family and bath my son

·    I always spend one day of the weekend with my son – it’s our ‘mum-son’ day. We go for train rides, bowling, feed ducks, zoos etc

My husband and I aim for ‘date night’ once a month – which simply consists of dinner and a movie.

Michelle Cooper
National Manager, People & Performance
Published by mums@work, leading providers in family friendly flexible tools for employers, mums and dads