Published in May-Jun 2022
My career in corporate communications has not deprived me of the joys of motherhood, or the responsibilities of a homemaker. My typical morning begins as a frantic mom, repeatedly banging on the bedroom doors of my two teenagers until they wake up and sleepily drag themselves to start the day rolling. I gain momentum, as I must prepare four different kinds of breakfast meals before the family gets dressed and reaches the dining table. Before gearing up for the office, I scan my emails briefly to respond to anything urgent. The rest of the day is always varied and this is something I love about my work.
At a high level, my days are not just variable but also flexible, which suits my working style and work requirements. I am under no illusion as to how fortunate I am to have this kind of autonomy in the workplace. Policies reflecting changing working environments and giving people choices about how they work is a privilege, especially for working women.
Starting off my workday, I scan headlines while mentally trying to prioritise all that is there on my plate – otherwise, it would be very easy for each day to slide into complete chaos. Also, I do like to bring some structure in through the type of work I do, at various points throughout the day, unless there is a dire issue that needs immediate attention.
I wear my writing hat all day long. Today, before penning this piece I wrote a press release and talking points for an interview that is scheduled for later in the week, simultaneously working on a more creative internal comms project. Writing and working on my projects are important to me, as is reading, and I feel unhappy if I haven’t done it for a while. It is also a constant reminder of just how much opportunity there is in the field of PR and communications. I strongly believe external and internal communications create innumerable opportunities for creative expression, which remains my favourite part of this job.
Networking internally as well as externally is an integral component of my role. On the days I am not working from home, I step out of my work zone around lunchtime to have brief conversations with my colleagues. I admittedly don’t get to do this every day, but when I do, I also try to learn a little bit more about the business and the people I work with.
In this field, one must constantly think about interesting angles to pitch to a journalist or how best to share it on social media. You must hit the phone, talk to people, cultivate relationships, and then offer them good material. If people don’t get back to you, chase them up and be a bit of a pest because, if nothing else, it starts a dialogue with that journalist and who knows, you may end up leveraging better and bigger. This is persistent in my field, with maybe a bit of variance here and there.
I read somewhere once that “Momentum is everything in communication” – the thing to catch, the thing to keep safe, the thing to use. And in the fast-paced work environment I operate, I feel it couldn’t have been put better.
Like all other jobs, I have meetings to attend, calendar invites to set and at times put my foot down too. I also quickly send multiple queries, action items, and follow-up emails to colleagues and external providers. While it’s non-stop action, I love my job and the people around me. I get to be a team player, a mentor and a leader all in one day.
My workstation at home has a schedule for practically everything from meals to laundry to cleaning, to children’s pickups and a lot more. As a working mother, you learn about the importance of time management, structure and, most importantly, that it is “okay” to let go of things that do not serve you. Staying strong and disciplined, I learned early that the most important gift I can give my family is my time and therefore I yearn to make the most of it! I am thankful for my wonderful, supportive partner always by my side, as he truly carries more than his share of the load.
Wearing many hats may not be for everyone, but I like to think I do a decent job of it. Letting go of mom-guilt and using time-saving hacks is something I learned very late in my 23-year career in this field.
Most days I try and finish by about seven p.m., sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depending on whether we are on a big push for something. As a household, we prefer having an early dinner and then I always spend some time with my children to hear them vent their day out – raising an eyebrow is something I have learnt to control in this sphere. I might get an hour of TV before bed or respond to a few more emails in the hope that the next day may be lighter in terms of my load, but in the end, it’s about smiling and pulling it all together.
Farah Asim is a communications professional at an international bank.