Natalie has been part of Tribepad for 6.5 years now, as our Financial Controller. We talk career breaks, flexibility at work, and the challenges of feeling included when you’re part-time.
Natalie, hi, thanks for making time to speak. So – Financial Controller. What does that involve?
As a role it’s very specific to the company. I’ve worked in lots of sectors – law, public sector, healthcare, private sector, manufacturing. The size of the company makes a big difference to how many areas you cover.
In Tribepad, I manage everything around the company’s finances so it’s extremely varied. That means employee stuff like running payroll; benefits; expenses; pensions; right through to suppliers and customers. I also prepare the internal accounts, provide stats for board meetings, and set the budget each year.
How did you wind up here?
Often being an accountant isn’t family-friendly, so flexibility can be difficult to find. That’s how I came to work here. This role came up and it was flexible hours, part-time.
Obviously now, since the pandemic, everyone is working from home and flexibility is much more common. But back then, it wasn’t like that. Tribepad had a real ingrained flexibility. Dean was great. If the kids were ever sick, I’d just work from home.
How did you find it, coming back to work after a career break?
Gosh, it can be so difficult for women. It can be so hard to find the right role, especially if you’re someone who’s highly trained who wants to further their career but also has kids. It’s such a challenge.
You know, you’ve reached a point in your career, you’ve worked hard to get where you are. And then you take ten years out for children. What do you come back and do? You need flexibility but also want to grow your career. My female friends and I often discuss how hard it is, to find that balance.
And you feel permanently guilty. You’re not 100% at home, or 100% at work. Are you doing the right thing? Are you letting everyone down? Could you do more?
We often joke as well, that part-time working can be a myth. You often wind up doing a full-time job in half the time, for half the pay. Unless you job share, or the company are aware and sensitive to these issues.
I didn’t feel like that with Tribepad. Leadership was very accommodating; the role was a very gentle ease back into the working environment. And even though I’d been away from the office environment for a few years, everyone at Tribepad treated me based on my qualifications and experience. I felt like an equal.
Have you struggled with feeling like an equal in your career?
Finance seems to have a fair few women – I’ve never been the only woman on the team, for example. But I was always competing with men for the roles I applied for, especially the more senior positions.
When I was 25, I definitely felt I was viewed differently because of my age and gender. I even got asked, ‘are you about to go and have a baby?’ – which seems completely outrageous now. I feel gender equality has gotten a lot better, in finance and more broadly, but it’s not perfect.
Sometimes I struggle to feel equal working part-time when others work full-time. It can be a major juggle because you miss so much, if things happen when you’re off. That’s improved a lot since the pandemic.
I’ve always felt part of the team with Tribepad, but it was more up to me to catch-up and make the extra effort. Now the communication has changed, because being in the office isn’t the norm. I think lots of part-time people will feel more included thanks to hybrid working.
What do you love most about your role right now?
Tribepad is going through so many exciting changes right now from a strategic perspective. It gives me the scope I wasn’t always sure would be here. My job here started out as a smaller role, which worked perfectly for me then, but as my children got older I started to want different challenges. It’s been great that the role’s grown with my ambitions.
I feel like a true business partner now, looking at bigger questions around where we want the company to be in three, five, ten years’ time. It’s a journey and it feels like a very inclusive one. I’m excited to see how our products develop, and how the company grows.
I love the variety too – there’s a really good breadth. I really like that you can see the impact of everything you do. With a huge enterprise, you might only handle one thing but here you can see the bigger picture. In larger companies you’re more of a name; you certainly don’t know everyone. I think having an impact is important to everyone here.
And finally… Tribepad’s philosophy is ‘people first, product second, profit third’. What does that mean to you?
Tribepad is the first place I’ve worked where there’s a very genuine focus on people, not just as something leadership say to tick a box.
Sure, they make mistakes sometimes. When you try new things and you grow, that’s what happens. But they try to stand up and own mistakes, and work on finding the right path. I think that’s rare.
This is the first time I’ve come across anywhere like this, and I’ve worked a few places. Even in smaller companies, you don’t always get this genuine focus on caring for employees.
Brilliant, thanks Natalie. Enjoy the rest of your day!
Tribepad is a platform for better for everyone. At our core we believe the right job is life-changing – and we’re excited, and privileged, to be part of that. Come and change lives with us?