Case Study: Joanna Munro, Global Head of Fiduciary Governance and Chair of HSBC Global Asset Management’s UK local asset managem
Do you have any direct reports? If so, how many?
Why do you work flexibly?
It was only after a serious illness when I was working in Hong Kong that I actually cut back on my days. I started working four days a week in the year I came back so that I could use the other day for medical appointments, physio and exercise that I needed to keep up.
When we were planning my return back to London late in 2013, I said I would like a role that could be done three days a week, as I’d decided that as well as working, I wanted to study and write, so hoped to start a Masters degree at Goldsmiths. My line manager, the Global CEO, was very supportive, working with me to develop a new role – the Global Head of Fiduciary Governance – that used the skills and experience I had and was also valuable to the asset management business, with the increasing importance of strong governance.
In many ways, being ill gave me the opportunity to look again at my priorities. Having to stop work for six months made me think about my life as a whole. While I was in the role, it was so interesting and demanding that I didn’t stop to think about the balance – or lack of – in my life, but while I was off I rediscovered some of the other things I enjoyed doing and determined not to wait until I retired to start doing them. Hence the Masters.
What does FW look like for you?
I currently work part-time, three days a week. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and although I do swap my Wednesdays to accommodate Board and Executive Committee meetings, I generally don’t swap Fridays as I am studying at Goldsmiths and have classes then.
How long within current firm?
How long have you been working flexibly?
In my current arrangement, since 2014.
How long have you worked within the industry?
Was this your first application?
No, I first worked flexibly for a previous employer, working four days a week after my first child was born. I did the same after my second child, but went back to five days a week when I first joined HSBC. After a year with an awful lot of travel, I found that my eldest son was really suffering – a bit shocking that it took me so long to notice! But I discussed with my boss and we agreed that I would work at home on Fridays when I wasn’t travelling – that really helped as I was able to take my son to school and pick him up and feel much more connected to his school life.
So that was in 2006 and since then I’ve always been supported to work from home if it was helpful for family reasons and didn’t cause issues for the business.
What are the positive outcomes from your decision to work flexibly?
Flexible working means I can have plenty of family time and also explore my non-finance related interests; but without having to look for another role, or leave an industry I love and where I’m good at what I do, and end up doing work that interests me less.
Are there any negative outcomes from your decision to work flexibly?
The biggest challenge is to keep your off-days work free. I’d rather work an incredibly long day on an on-day than have work into an off-day and so I manage that reasonably well. There are times though when there just are a lot of things that pop up – as well as the internal commitments I have some external commitments and they can combine to give a bit of a work peak – and then I just have to rebalance for a short while in favour of work. But that’s my choice, not my manager telling me to do this.
Any other words of advice?
My top tip for flexible working colleagues is to get the right boss. Make sure your colleagues understand when you do and don’t work and how you’re managing your workload. And then try very hard not to let work creep into your off days.