With the support of VetPartners, Lora Briggs has successfully achieved a happy work-life balance, raising two young children and developing a successful career.
Lora has just been promoted to Operational HR Manager at VetPartners and is also mum to Henry, eight, and Matilda, six.
Here, as we mark National Career Development Month, Lora discusses how VetPartners’ caring, supportive culture enabled her to fulfill her career goals….
FOR many single mums, having a successful career can be both daunting and overwhelming.
Sadly, many women are forced to compromise their career goals, or even give up completely, if they are unable to successfully balance working full-time and being there for their children.
During my four years with VetPartners, I’ve never felt that I have had to compromise myself or feel as if I am letting my children down, as the business has supported me every step of the way to ensure I can be successful.
I joined VetPartners following a spell as a stay-at-home mum. I realised I couldn’t afford to work part-time anymore following my divorce, but returning to the workforce filled me with worry about how I was going to ensure my children didn’t feel I wasn’t there for them.
I intended to stay only six months as I’d taken a job as an HR advisor, a lower level than I’d previously worked as European HR specialist for an oil company, travelling the world for eight years.
But I was immediately struck by the culture of support and collaboration at VetPartners, the family values they were embedding in the business, and the excitement of being part of a new company that was expanding exponentially through word of mouth as people heard about our reputation.
There was a lovely family atmosphere and a female CEO in Jo Malone, who was a mother herself and a veterinary surgeon, who was building a new group with family values she believed in.
Despite this, after a while, I realised that my dream of returning to work wasn’t as easy as I thought. An hour-long commute through rush-hour traffic every morning and night meant I was having 10-hour days and my children were finding it difficult because they were so young.
I felt I had no choice but to put my children first and I handed in my notice. Looking back, I think I was still in panic mode after my divorce and worrying about doing it all.
However, a conversation with Jo changed the course of my life and career. She instinctively understood my dilemma and started a discussion about how we could make this work.
Together, we looked at how I could balance my role at VetPartners with my kids. We agreed I could work from home every Wednesday to break up the week and ensure I could be there to collect Henry and Matilda from school.
Having that support and flexibility transformed my way of working and made me so much more efficient as Wednesday was dedicated to essential admin – sending emails and letters and following up enquiries. At 3pm I collected the children from school, treated them at a nearby café, and then did some more work in the evening when they were tucked up.
By making me feel listened to, supporting me and helping to find a happy compromise, VetPartners instilled a real loyalty in me and made me want to stay at the company and develop.
This was really the springboard to me thriving at work, progressing from HR Advisor to HR Business Partner and then Senior HR Business Partner, and hopefully repaying the support VetPartners gave me.
Many businesses fail to do this for their female employees and end up losing talented workers who feel there is no place for them in the workplace.
Earlier this year, I achieved a Level 7 Advanced Certificate in Human Resources Management.
I have invested in me and my children because I want to do well in my career for us as a family.
It meant studying during weekends and evenings, with essays, course work and attending classes, but I was prepared to put in the extra effort. Modules covered employment law, resource management, managing employee relations and reward management, which boosted my knowledge and confidence.
Shortly afterwards, I applied for a new role as Operational HR Manager and was successful. Before my interview, I was nervous and our Chief Operations Officer Mark Stanworth made me a brew to steady myself. This is genuinely a business where everyone makes the tea and looks out for each other.
Even though we have grown into a big company with more than 5,500 employees across the UK, we have not lost our family feel and that has come from people at the top.
Lora Briggs studied for a Degree in Psychology at the University of Derby and later completed a Degree in Business Management at the University of Leeds.
She worked in both the oil and hospitality sectors, before joining VetPartners in 2016.
After joining VetPartners as an HR Advisor, she was promoted to HR Business Partner and then Senior HR Business Partner, before being appointed Operational HR Manager in 2020.
For media enquiries, please contact Amanda Little, VetPartners Senior PR and Communications Manager, on 07970 198 492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org