Molly Rowan, Prospect Development Manager, AdvancementBy Sheena Dave
Molly Rowan, who looks after the Research Team in Advancement, is also the person behind our new LBS Parents and Carers Group. We caught up with her to find out more about the group and what staff can expect in the coming months.
Tell us a little about you, your role and what it involves…
I lead the Research Team in Advancement, who provide a wide variety of insight into the fascinating people who’ve studied at London Business School. The team works closely with the rest of Advancement to help decide which of our 40,000 alumni are most able and keen to get involved with future fundraising efforts and events. We’re highly proficient with Google, very curious and regularly answer questions like ‘who are our most interesting people in Kazakhstan?’ and ‘which alumni would be most interested in supporting the Leadership Institute?’. I previously did similar roles at Cancer Research UK, ActionAid and the London School of Economics.
You’re launching a brand new Parents and Carers group for LBS staff. Can you tell us more about the group and what inspired you to launch it?
I’ve set up the group to provide guidance and support for those juggling caring responsibilities with a career at LBS. There are lots of working parents at the School, but it’s hard to build that network outside your own department (particularly if you have to dash to make the nursery run rather than have a drink after work). One of the keys to building a great career while parenting / caring is advice and support from those who’ve been in your shoes, so I want the group to provide that forum for our staff.
I was inspired by organisations like Flex Appeal and Working Families, who educate employers and employees alike on how to improve engagement and productivity, and campaign for fairer treatment of working parents and carers from all backgrounds, ethnicities and levels of seniority. It’s really important that all of the School’s parents and carers have a voice and are heard: a variety of voices at the table is how true inclusion and diversity will happen.
Where did the idea for the group come from?
I joined LBS a year ago, just six months after having my baby daughter. While changing jobs in the middle of maternity leave was pretty unusual (and only made possible by sharing parental leave with my husband), I’d heard from contacts in the sector that Advancement was a place doing really exciting things, but was also a great place to be a working parent, so I made the leap. This has turned out to be totally true – I have some amazing colleagues who also happen to be parents, often at senior levels, working flexibly while delivering really valuable work. They are some of our best assets and have proved to be fantastic role models. I felt so empowered and supported that I decided to set up the group because I wanted to make sure every parent or carer at LBS has the same positive experience that I’ve had.
What initiatives and activities can staff expect to see in the future?
The group will launch in April with its first monthly lunch meeting, where we’ll get to know one another and work together to establish the core aims of the group. We’d like a comfortable balance of discussion groups and themed seminars or lunch and learns. There will be guest slots from HR on relevant issues and in time, we’d love to host sessions with senior leadership, faculty, and external groups like Working Parents, Timewise and Flex Appeal.
We’d also like to organise staff mentoring and confidential peer advice; we’ll aim to recruit mentors - staff at various levels who would be happy to provide one to one support, particularly for those who might not feel comfortable attending a group session.
We’ll work closely with HR and Staff Committee to inform relevant School decision-making with insight from the group, and on developing resources for staff clarifying school policy on a wide range of family-friendly issues, starting with flexible working.
What are the group’s main objectives?
The group’s primary objectives are to support every parent or carer at LBS and enable them to have the opportunity to successfully balance a fulfilling career with their caring responsibilities, and to bring people together to share experiences, challenges and opportunities.
How can people join the group and is it open to everyone?
People can join the group by signing up on Yammer – the group is closed so that discussions there remain confidential, but open to all staff who wish to join. Or, you can email me to be added to the monthly mailing list to keep up-to-date with meetings and activities.
I’d also like to highlight here that the group is open to all staff. Whatever your family looks like, whether you’re a mum or dad, if you have one dependent or seven, you’re more than welcome. Several staff who aren’t parents have shared with me how much they don’t know about what life as a parent or carer in the workplace is like; they feel really unprepared for this very normal life stage but are afraid to ask! Sometimes caring responsibilities take you by surprise, with a sick family member, or you want to plan your career so that having a family doesn’t negatively impact it. This group is for you too.
The key is to get involved – the only way we can build something really positive is with your help!
What inspires you about LBS and what's your best LBS moment so far?
It’s been a very busy and exciting year – lots of best moments! On my third day here, I attended Eliot Sherman’s lecture on International Women’s Day, on ways to resolve gender inequality in the workplace. I came away buzzing – it was exciting to be a part of an organisation doing research that felt really relevant and ground-breaking. When my flexible working request for compressed hours was approved a few months later, I felt empowered to be the best parent and employee I could be – that was a pretty happy feeling too!
I’m so inspired by the LBS vision to have a profound impact on the way the world does business and how business impacts the world. Changing the world starts at home, with each of us; in its own small way, I hope this group can help LBS live its values by delivering an inclusive and positive experience for parents and carers here.