Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mat Leave: the best thing to happen to my career

Most people would probably argue that going on mat leave is not the best move for your career. I am not one of those people. I speak from experience when I say that going on mat leave can be the best thing that happens to your career.

I spent my years after University working my way up the ladder in the advertising agency world. I worked in client service on some amazing brands - Kraft, Evian, Molson, Canon, Kellogg's just to name a few. I absolutely loved my job. It was fast paced, demanding and a ton of fun all at the same time.

I got to work with a range of different people every day - directors, photographers, writers, creative directors, researchers, web developers, brand managers. Best of all, I got to see strategic ideas come to life in a creative way and was a big part of making it all happen.

Then I got pregnant :)

Mat leave was a big change of pace for me. It was just as demanding and just as exhausting but in a totally different way. The best part was that it forced me to slow down and it gave me time to think and explore things I hadn't had time to think about before. It allowed me to question what was important to me and what mattered to me in terms of my career.

I wasn't bound by my vacation time ending or a looming project deadline that needed all of my attention. It allowed me to ask myself "what do I really want to do" and more importantly it made me ensure I had a good answer - there's no way I would go back to work if it wasn't 100% what I wanted to be doing everyday.

Not if it meant not spending every second I could with Madeline.

During nap time, I didn't spend my time doing housework (Michael will confirm this), I spent that time reading. Blogs, articles, books, magazines. And connecting through facebook, Linked in, Twitter. And I started to see this trend exploding online.

Moms were everywhere online.

I guess it wasn't really such a huge surprise, but what was surprising was what they were doing and the fact that they seemed to be so ahead of everyone else when it came to social media. They were leading the charge in many areas and developing their own communities and resources that fit their specific needs.

They were connecting with other Moms across the country and sharing information - everything from travel recos, baby products, new dishwashers, best schools in the city.

As a new Mom, I realized the enormity of this source of information very quickly - anytime I had a question or before I was going to buy a new product, I was online asking other Moms what they had used and getting helpful tips.

If I found out about a new product through advertising, I was immediately turning to the "internet-moms" for the nod of approval before I used it. It dawned on me that this was the future for Moms (actually, it was the present!) and this is where the brands that I used to work with needed to be.

The rest they say is history.

Now I'm launching Mom Central here in Canada. We help brands develop marketing strategies that will help them reach Canadian Moms.
It takes what I love about advertising and brand strategy and combines it with my other passions of social media, blogging and new media technology.

I'm getting to build something here from scratch and hopefully I'll get to watch it grow. The take-home message here: take the time to think, as the return is often much larger than the investment.

1 comment:

  1. On my extended mat leave (I never went back between kids), I discovered I have a real knack for sewing leather and fur! I have become a mitten making mogul.

    That break from the grind is a real time of self discovery. Especially with the first child. Congrats on finding new work that you can be passionate about!