A clear message to recruiters
Deborah Jones is the Director of Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the body that regulates the financial services industry in the UK. Deborah works three days a week and job shares her role with Mary Starks. They were both recruited in August 2013, for what was then a brand new post.
Deborah very nearly missed out on the job entirely. She says: “Last year, I was working for 4 days a week at the Office for Fair Trading, and was very happy in my role. A recruiter called me, out of the blue, about a fantastic looking Competition Director role for the newly formed FCA. I was really excited – it looked like a perfect next step for me – both a fit for my skills and experience, and a step up from what I was doing at the time. I mentioned that I worked part time, and she said: “Oh, I really don’t think it’s that kind of place” and tried to encourage me to consider the full time option.
I nearly gave up then and there. With two young boys at home, my part time hours were a deal-breaker for me. The extra time at home motivates me and since starting to work part-time I have enjoyed delivering challenging work in a more concentrated form. But the role had grabbed my interest. Eventually, I decided to submit my CV, explaining my working pattern within the covering letter. I felt it was a real long shot – and didn’t expect to hear back.
By coincidence, unbeknownst to me, a colleague of mine also decided to apply for the role. She also worked part time, and happened to know Chris Woolard, the Director of the FCA’s Policy, Risk and Research division, who the role would report directly to. She asked him directly if the FCA would be open to talent who needed flexibility. His response was instant: “well of course we would – whatever gave you the impression we might not be?” He encouraged her to apply.
That colleague was Mary Starks, and we were jointly recruited on a job share basis. Mary has an economics specialism, and I am a lawyer, so we bring two complementary skill sets to the role. And it’s every bit as brilliant as I hoped it would be. Our department is experiencing rapid growth – we began with 4 staff, have recruited a further 21, and anticipate having a team of 50 by the end of the year. The work is challenging but thrilling.
Together, we conduct year-long investigations into a variety of financial services to ensure firms are competing effectively to meet the needs of consumers. We’re not alone in working flexibly – there are many part time and working-from-home arrangements in the FCA. I feel I have the best of both worlds – a stimulating role that allows me to work to the peak of my abilities, within the hours I have to give. And I get the balance at home with the children. From the FCA’s perspective, they get two brains for the price of one, two sets of skills, and two sets of experience. I’m so happy to have found this fantastic role – and to think, I could have missed it completely.”