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Blog: International Women’s Day - Celebrating our women’s achievements

Fiona Blakey returned to work at Atkins/Faithful+Gould Dubai five months after having her daughter Erin. Just two months later she was promoted to Regional QSSE manager. Read how this gender-balanced workplace is getting it right from the perspective of a busy, working mum.

This year the International Women’s Day slogan is #PressForProgress – what would you like to see change for women in your field?

I’d love to see more ‘return to work’ programmes for mums, where companies offer part-time roles and job shares. It would be a great way to tap into a valuable, overlooked skills base and help parents bridge the gap back into full-time work.

What does Atkins/F+G Dubai have to celebrate this International Women’s Day?

We’re a great example of a diverse and inclusive workplace with female talent that spans many different cultures, backgrounds and skillsets. These women inspire me daily: they are great professionals and dedicated mothers who still find time to give back to their communities.

What kind of support do women need when coming back from maternity leave?

Young children’s needs change so quickly from week to week, even from day to day. So flexible working hours are everything. I was very fortunate to have had an understanding line manager who offered me extremely accommodating return-to-work support.

Caring for a young baby can be a physical and emotional rollercoaster, how did you keep your confidence up?

My mum brought me up to be confident and to have a voice. I came back to work feeling that motherhood had given me a new skill that would benefit my career and employer. I also knew my line managers had always believed in my abilities. The fact that they still believed in me when I returned to work was a huge boost.

How do you balance motherhood and work?

I won’t say it’s easy! I work closely with my line manager and explain when things are challenging. Sometimes I work from home. Other times I might start late after a meeting at the nursery and make up for missed hours in the evening. It’s about balance and also being flexible myself, when there is a work emergency Atkins/F+G Dubai know that I’ll be there.

How did your promotion come about?

After returning to the Major Bids team from maternity leave, I applied for a position as Business Systems Manager. But I felt I could offer more, so I proposed the role of QSSE Manager. Before I knew it, I was offered the position of Regional QSSE Manager. I was thrilled to be taking on a new challenge.

In your role, how will you support more women to progress to managerial level?

As much as I possibly can! I try to be a role model for other mums in the organisation, actively supporting and mentoring them through challenges. It’s my passion to continue to grow the expertise of my team. I believe it’s important to help others achieve career progression. For example, I supported our Quality Manager in Qatar in making it to the finals of the CQI Quality Awards, and hope this will have a positive, long-lasting effect on her career.

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