Today is International Women’s Day and, to celebrate, we’re launching a new series profiling the inspirational women (and men) who make up our Power Part Time list.
These leaders show that true work-life balance is not an impossible dream – you can combine high level work with quality family life and reach the top of your field. If you’ve ever doubted it’s possible to work part time and still be ambitious, our Power Part Timers will convince you that experience plus part time is a winning formula!
Nicola Rabson, 38, is a well-known figure in employment law. As the first solicitor to be made an equity partner while working part time at ‘magic circle’ firm Linklaters, she is a well-respected role model who has paved the way for others.
Nicola has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, having tackled the most complex employment litigation and advice, including claims in the High Court. She advises on major global projects for clients including Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Balfour Beatty and National Grid. In 2012 she was instructed on the biggest employment claim in the UK to date, the bonus litigation of 104 claims against Commerzbank and Dresdner Kleinwort, which received significant global media attention as one of the most important commercial cases of recent times.
As mum to three children, Zachary (10), Sacha (9) and Jemima (7), Nicola works a four day week to spend time with her children and her husband, who also has a busy schedule as a surgeon. Working part time also enables Nicola to have the flexibility to be able to do other things, and achieve a better work-life balance.
A member of Linklaters Gender Network, Nicola is a mentor and a role model to many women. She is involved in several formal mentoring programmes, including schemes at her former girl’s school and with King’s College Law School. She actively promotes diversity in the workplace, regularly hosting talks at the firm and speaking at clients’ events on the subject of part time working, sharing her experiences and advocating ‘alternative’ working patterns and job shares.
Nicola says: “I wanted my working hours to fit in with my changing family needs, and didn’t want to have to compromise on my level of seniority or in my role as a parent. I was fortunate enough to be working for one of the first City firms to really understand that both employers and employees can benefit from alternative working patterns. I never saw any reason for my part time working to have any bearing on my promotion prospects, and am delighted to be able to demonstrate that if you are committed, you can reach your goals while working part time.”
She adds: “I am really pleased to say that employers are increasingly realising that by offering ‘alternative’ working patterns they can retain creative, talented and well-rounded employees, who have interests and commitments outside the workplace.”
Linklaters recognises the need for flexibility to continue to meet client demands and to support the needs of its teams. The firm has launched a set of ‘Flexibility Principles’, designed to encourage a flexible mindset regarding work patterns, and is also experimenting with various approaches to flexible working, including running a homeworking pilot scheme in the London office.
“Working in an unconventional manner is no longer always a barrier to reaching the top of your profession,” says Nicola. “Without doubt, a lot of progress has been made in the past few years, particularly in terms of changing people’s perceptions around part time work. It will be interesting to see how this develops, and what a ‘normal’ working week will look like in the future.”
What do you think of Nicola's story? Are you in part time work and determined to make it to the top? Or maybe promotion isn't a priority for you - are you happy to work part time and simply enjoy life? Are people in part time jobs 'allowed' to be ambitious? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, follow the conversation on Twitter, or join our LinkedIn group to discuss this issue in detail.