I must stop offering people pictures of my dogs

Dogs. A word which evokes a Marmite reaction from people – it’s rare that you will come across someone who just ‘thinks they’re ok’, or who could take them or leave them. More often than not, people will respond to say that they love them, or are terrified of/hate/are annoyed by them. I well and truly fall into the former camp and was delighted to follow the 3,730 tweets for #NationalDogDay earlier this week and all their associated pictures!


I’m currently writing this blog en route home from a long few days in Philadelphia, with jet lag, following a delayed 7-hour flight… I’m feeling all the normal things you would expect with this kind of exhausting schedule, but above all else I’m excited, because waiting for me at home are nine beautiful English Springer Spaniels – eight of which are 9-week-old puppies, the ninth being their mother, Bessie Bear (or Bess, if you’re generally anyone other than me). I promise if you keep reading (or just scrolling) there will be more adorable pictures and a little overview of my life with eleven puppies…


But first – a little about the science… We work in the healthcare industry; where medicine, Pharma, pills and potions dominate. These are all crucial for maintenance of our health and well-being – you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has never taken a medicine of some kind or another – but I would like to look beyond the pharmacological interventions and talk a bit about the psychological and physical benefits animals can bring to a person’s life (if you’re into them!).

I am personally always happier when around dogs, but don’t just take my highly subjective word for it – research can back me up. Studies are ongoing in many areas of medicine to quantify, objectively, the impact animals have on our physical and mental well-being, ranging from conditions such as dementia1 and depression2, through to the role they can play in rehabilitation following chronic conditions3 and in keeping older people active4. They can provide much-needed companionship following the loss of a loved one, and give a great excuse to become fitter or lose weight – there are few more motivating influences than the big, sad eyes of a spaniel looking up at the lead… (but unless you want to be tripped over, I suggest you train said dog to run off the lead, a long way away from you. Trust me on that). A recent article from Scientific American looked at the hormonal releases in the brain from interactions with dogs, ‘increases in β-endorphin (beta-endorphin), oxytocin and dopamine – neurochemicals associated with positive feelings and bonding – have been observed in both dogs and people after enjoyable interactions like petting, play and talking’.

dog on lead

So enough about the science – I think you get it. So why doesn’t everyone just rush out and get a pet?! The challenge, of course, is that living in London, or indeed rented/small/garden-less accommodation anywhere, can squash this; landlord restrictions, increasingly busy lifestyles, long working hours etc. etc. often stand in the way of owning our own animals. But with the advent of novel business ventures such as Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium (I’ve been it’s well worth a visit, there is a cat that you can walk on a harness, at his own request – that’s my friend, right, walking said cat), animals can be accessible to anyone, and I greatly advocate spending some time with them. There is nothing like the unconditional love that a dog, cat, guinea pig… can provide.

I love all animals, but this brings me back to my passion – dogs. A wise person once said ‘anyone that says diamonds are a girl’s best friend, never had a dog’ – not that I would turn down a diamond if offered, of course! I’m lucky enough that I live in the middle of the countryside, in a house with a garden, with a farmer for a husband – perfect conditions for raising little bundles of puppy joy. However, with introducing puppies into the world comes the inevitable heartbreak of seeing them go to new homes, and since last Thursday I’ve seen three of ‘my’ babies head off to their loving new owners (I know they are loving, because I’ve vetted and interviewed them all at length!), and the rest will follow them soon. That doesn’t mean to say that I’ve not become incredibly attached to each and every one of them, with their very individual characters and foibles (if you’re interested, my names for the original 11 of them are Tiggy, Stripey, Dipstick, Badger, Brian, Enid, Missy, Pippin, Tucker Trousers, Grace and Bobby). Unfortunately for my husband, this attachment means that we have to keep two of them (so far) – so Tiggy and Tucker Trousers (he looks like he is wearing a little pair of trousers, in case you were wondering) are going to be joining our family. And if you see me trying to sneak a little squeaky ball of fur into the building, it is as a result of the ongoing campaign from Louise Earley for the rest of the office to share my new pets! (Don’t tell security!).


Victoria Stanley, Group Account Director – PLBR Med Ed/PR


  1. Nordgren L, Engström G. Nurs Older People 2014;26(3):31–8
  2. Enmarker I, Hellzén O, Ekker K, Berg AG. Aging Ment Health 2015;19(4):347–52
  3. Vallet C, André N, Gentet JC, et al. Ecancermedicalscience 2015;28;9:558
  4. Raina P, Waltner-Toews D, Bonnett B, et al. J Am Geriatr Soc 1999;47(3):323–9

Agile thinking – what’s our vision

On a bitterly cold January morning the multi-talented PLBR account handling team gathered for our first monthly breakfast meeting of 2015. These meetings are a fantastic opportunity for us account guys to get together to discuss ongoing projects and best practice solutions; showcasing the creative work each account pod has produced in unison with our award winning creative team; sharing inspiring case studies; and of course an opportunity for us to have a good old chinwag over some lukewarm coffee and stale delicious pastries.

In saying that, this little get together had a twist. We knew that we were in for something different, but we were not sure what was in store. Some people’s minds (definitely not mine!) drifted to a group review of the Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl ad, others to an impromptu Great British Bake-off style challenge (definitely not Harriet) whilst the more reflective members of the team yearned for a ‘This is Your Life’ special starring the late, great, Deirdre Barlow.


Greetings my friend

How wrong we all were. We were welcomed by our good friend ‘the workshop’, who had been meticulously planned by our crack-team of process junkies Bridget, Nina and Matt. It was to be one of the most energetic workshops ever held at PLBR towers, with discussions hotter than the fires of Mount Doom contained within the walls of ‘The Shire’. Oh, if those walls could talk…

Upon gathering together in mutual fuzziness at what was basically dawn, we were greeted with our topic for the morning, “Agile Thinking – A change from the norm”. A quick glance around revealed that whilst the majority of us knew what both words meant in isolation, only a few wise members knew what they meant in combination.


So what is Agile Thinking?

An agile thinker is someone who can ask good questions, someone who values balance, someone who can consider different perspectives and someone who can balance execution. Now I know what you’re thinking, so a workshop around Agile Thinking means “Everyone get in a room and smash some marketing type speak on a post-it note?” Well kind-of, but the real overarching goal and drive here was to work as a team (banning words such as – budget, workload and resource) so we could share our thoughts on the agency’s vision and how we as an account handling unit could be a part of that movement.

Following a rousing introduction by Client Services Director Wyndham Clark (I’ll let you decide whether he told me to say that or not) we were split into groups to tackle three topics and began to get down to some intense brainstorming.

Topic 1: What is our agency vision?

Topic 2: How will the account handling team help achieve that vision?

Topic 3: How will our regular account handling forum help us achieve our vision?


Against the clock

In just 10 minutes for each topic we were challenged to come up with a solution. The fast paced thinking really slapped away any remaining morning cobwebs and post-its began to zip around the room like super-injunctions following a football club’s Christmas party.

And the results

So what were the outputs? Well, we managed to whittle down the many candidates for agency vision to just a few; ‘trust developers’, ‘pioneering’ and ‘thought leaders’ however the overwhelming winner was ‘desired’. Put forward by Anisha, it was decided that this was the word that resonated most with what we were all trying to communicate (in varying forms of chaotic chatter). Desired by potential clients, desired by current clients, desired by the most talented individuals out there and most importantly desired by the people here at PLBR. Having that very rare feeling in this day and age, of job satisfaction. This can come in many forms but we agreed that the most important was coming to work knowing that what we do is making a difference.

How can we help and how will our forums help? Well that’s for us to worry about but keep your eyes to the ground and your ears peeled for further updates on our agency vision!

Ollie Fraser – Senior Account Executive

Working with strangers and my first time abroad alone

In July I disappeared from the office to spend some time in Rome. ‘On holiday?’ I hear you ask. No, I spent the week at the EACA Summer School, with advertising folk from agencies around Europe, learning new skills and working on a live client brief.


The process of getting to Rome wasn’t an easy journey in itself – PLBR held a competition with the prize being the opportunity to go to the Summer School. All we had to do was to pretend the Management Team were our clients and develop and present a communications plan to them – a pretty nerve wracking experience in my opinion. On top of this we had to explain why we think we should attend the Summer School (knowing that everyone competing would have similar reasons for going).

As you can guess, my presentation went well (although I think the give-away Smarties were the secret to success) and I was off to Rome. That was when the panic set in. You may laugh, but this was the first time that I had been abroad alone. Questions were going through my head: How am I going to get home at night? Who am I going to eat with? Blargh, am I going to have to talk to strangers? But hey, it’s all a learning curve. Right?!

anisha 3

From Monday to Friday, during the hours of 9–5, we attended lectures from some of the most senior and inspiring advertising professionals in the business. The topics we covered ranged from Behavioural Economics through to the Future of Digital and Mobile Creativity. Out of working hours, we slaved away on our pitch presentation – although that’s all I can say due to my signing of a non-disclosure agreement!

In terms of a quick overview of what I learned, I would have to say that while all of the lectures gave me food for thought, there was one that truly sparked my interest – Big Data.


Big Data

It seems to me that the more I read about this subject the more there is to learn. So, I thought I would share some of the basics I managed to pick up whilst in Rome.

Big Data is not just lots of small data. In fact, it’s not really about data at all; it is about the tools of data analysis and the knowledge that can then be ascertained. After all as Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.”

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (equivalent to about half a billion HD movie downloads). 

Companies who analyse these big data sets can then adapt their own products and services to better meet customer needs; optimising their operations and infrastructure, which in turn helps them to create new revenue streams. In essence, Big Data helps them to predict the future and it is something companies are willing to pay handsomely for.

We live in a world where the internet of things exists (where everyday objects have network connectivity allowing the sending and receiving of data), and we just cannot opt out of big data any more as it is in everything we do. Every purchase you make, every post you share, every device you use, your data is being collected for commercial gain, and this is a trend that will only continue.

90% of the data created in the world today has been generated within the last two years.

Now back to Rome

On the rare occasions that we managed to escape from the university campus, we were able to enjoy the World Cup – this was shown on a cinema size screen which highlighted Germany’s epic win over Brazil.Anisha 2

On my final night, I was able to enjoy a whistle stop tour of Rome, before resting my feet at a riverside festival – phew!

All in all, I learned so much about different Advertising disciplines as well as myself. When you find yourself outside the B&B at midnig inht with the key broken the street door lock and no one around to help you, you get a chance to embrace your creative side.

Bright Sparks: Picking up the pace

It is week 4 and our bright sparks are embracing the pace of advertising life.

Jonathan Webb – Creative Executive 

Well, here I am at the end of my fourth week!

The pace has certainly picked up; I feel I have definitely been in the thick of it, especially in my fourth week where we had many hours to put in to complete two briefs that were at different stages. It was hard work and stressful at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have still loved every minute of working here at PLBR and I look forward to the weeks to come with the same fervour.

I had a presentation given by Vineet Thapar from Digitas Health Life Brands, where he detailed all the digital focused work that they do, and it has made me very excited when I start my next placement there!

Vineet Thapar - SVP, Group Creative Director Europe.

Vineet Thapar – SVP, Group Creative Director Europe. Digitas Health.

Everyone is still extremely nice, funny, hard working and wonderful to be around up at PLBR, making me think it’s genuinely how they are and not just how they presented themselves when I started. It makes for a great environment to work in. They also still eat a lot of food, there’s always chocolates or cakes or something being shared out, which is always great.

I’m also looking forward to the Christmas party! Roll on week 5!

Amma Osei-Owusu – Account Executive

Looking back, I’m finding myself wondering how time has gone by so quickly! It seems to be moving insanely fast, I suppose when I consider the fast pace of the agency it’s befitting everything flies along with the pulse. That being said after the whirlwind of the first weeks the dust has finally settled. I feel as though I now have a grounded routine where I “sort of – kind of” know what to expect. I have the expectation that every day will bring something entirely new to learn. I feel as though I’ve been finding my feet here, I’ve been learning the ropes. Daily I’m met with a vast array of different tasks to accomplish, most things are completely new to me and each task I  complete brings  that sweet sense of fulfilment; the sort that makes you want to pause and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done but the learning doesn’t plateau. The thing about the LAB experience is it’s a bit like a decathlon, it’s a constant roll of events and hurdles to face and it’s all about constant progression. Already looking back I’m amazed that in such a short period of time I’ve picked up so much it’s like an intensive course where I’m actually able to apply the new skills I’ve learnt and that gives me a fabulous sense of achievement.

Amma at work

Amma at work

The thing that most distinguishes the earlier weeks from these latter weeks is the growing sense of responsibility that comes with being increasingly involved with clients. As an account manager, client interaction is undoubtedly the biggest part of the job. I’ve been gradually integrated into the conversations between the agency and external clients whereas in previous weeks I was solely engaged with internal communications. I’m so grateful to be involved in the process – to be the link between the client and their desired goals, this is major stuff for me!

Part of getting stuck into the role of an account manager means constantly accounting for finances; total project cost, out of pocket expenses and so forth. It also means tracking the development of projects right from the first brief, estimating cost and raising job numbers, warranting that time is allocated appropriately, constructing and ensuring timelines are met, ensuring the client is not just satisfied but is happy. We are required to do that little bit extra in order to be successful. Here at Saatchi and Saatchi health we build meaningful relations with clients this means they see us as an extension of the team and not just an agency, these are just some of the things I constantly have to be thinking about.

Finances, finances, finances

Finances, finances, finances

Considering I entered into the LAB without the same background in healthcare that others in this profession possess, the amount I’ve learnt about the healthcare industry within the scope of time is gastronomical. I feel like I’ve suddenly delved into vast world that I previously didn’t not realise the breadth and depth of. There are so many complexities to it. Working on different accounts means I’m constantly introduced to different conditions and drug treatments. The variety in the types of clients we work with is also what makes this job so enjoyable. One minute I’m working with a client that produces an anticoagulant for stroke treatment and in the very same day I’ll also be working with a client that specialises in incontinency care. They all have varying needs and wants. In addition to that there is the tricky and sticky “red tape” restrictions that regulate healthcare advertising. The task presented to us to us to rise above the challenge is quite a big ask, but from my time here already I’ve learnt that the Saatchi mantra “nothing is impossible” couldn’t be more true when it comes to healthcare communications. To overcome the obstacles set before us it is important we approach them at different angles and perspectives. My unique contribution I believe, perhaps stems from my unfamiliarity with this world. My eyes are wide open just like a child in a sweet store I’m overwhelmed – filled with awe by the mass and scope of it all, but seeing the bigger picture – the holistic picture is so vital in this industry, and asking the questions my curiosity probes me to ask, may lead not just to greater understanding for my sake but also to further innovation in the approach to healthcare communications.

About the ‘New Guy’

Well I have been asked to write a PLBR blog, which I graciously accepted without knowing what I wanted to talk about. So I hope the following ramblings and incoherent thoughts suffice.

As the ‘new guy’ I am often asked about what I did before winning the creative role from The Lab. So I suppose this blog post will not be dissimilar from a bio piece, but I will try to include some advice or talk about something of actual value along the way. Try not to get bored.

I suppose for want of a better word; I am an artist and always have been. From moulding foul smelling Play Doh into sculptures, to having more child-friendly anti-toxic paint over myself than the paper – I was always told I would make a great artist. I wanted to be one. Not the society hating, pretentious, rude and hard to work with ‘tormented genius’ role that looks down on other people (which seems to be the norm these days). Rather the kind that likes to create for beauty’s sake.


So with that in mind, I did a year towards a degree in Law. And even though I found criminal law to be interesting, I knew it wasn’t enough to hold my attention for the rest of my life, so I applied for art courses whilst working in a bank. Not in a branch, but in a ‘magic building’ where the real work happened. It was pretty dull. I eventually started my degree in Fine Art and it was 3 of the best years of my life. I drew, painted, sculpted and slept a lot. I had a particular affinity with lens work and branched off in the latter half of my second year to specialise in film and photography. My first film was awful. It’s 3 minutes long, involving me sharing a banana with myself. Black and white silent film where I stole some music from a Charlie Chaplin film and slowed it down to around 80%. Poorly edited…It went on to be showcased at the Whitstable film festival. A lot of people shook my hand saying how much they liked it. Damn.


I also love photography. Some of the shots I achieved with a really bad camera (included) I think are a testament to how I compose a shot. I’m really happy with them so I hope you think they are cool. I am now saving up for a 5d or a c300 or something similar.

2 + 3

I have written a lot of screenplays, a few of which I was told to pursue by one of my lecturers – a film-maker who has had commissions with Film 4. So that’s a thing. Maybe if I plan it out well enough I can get a few short films done before I’m thirty. One of them I did in my final year at university. I was the producer, budget handler, head of casting, location scout, set designer, camera operator, director, runner, gaffer, cinematographer, editor, colour grader and I set up the screen for the ‘I AM art exhibition’ it was shown for. I will get funding and a crew next time. It was selected for a 6 week screening at the Turner Contemporary Gallery. An honour. I am not posting a link to the video as I don’t like it any more – sorry!

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 09.27.33

I suppose I had better talk about something of value. A cutesy go-away-and-think-about-this type deal. Hopefully some of you are still reading, I know this is long. I wouldn’t read it. Anyway, I’ll call it ‘inspiration’. Here goes.

Aesthetic is important and wondrous. Not a day goes by where I don’t look up at the stars and get lost in the vastness (oh look he is a pretentious arsehole). I have seen Hubble space images projected at an IMAX, as well as footage of them installing the Hubble – all narrated by Tom Cruise. I highly recommend it. That’s what inspires me. Knowing how finite and insignificant we are against the vastness of what we don’t know. Seeing exploded stars in 12K resolution – dead, like they had stuck a pistol in their sun spot, with colourful matter like star brains that are smeared across the space wall – is awe inspiring. If I ever figure out how to transform that beauty outside of space photography and into a gallery I’d be a millionaire. It’s taken a horrible bad poetic turn, but I include a picture of a poetry ‘thing’ I won in school. See it? Great young minds. See, right there, credentials. I was a cocky kid in school, but least I had evidence to back it up. These are the ramblings I told you about at the beginning, remember?

If I had anything to say of worth, it’s to find your muse. Find something or someone that inspires you, and hold on to it. Look at it every day, even if it’s as stupid as looking up at the stars every night. Go and hold your head up high – walk out the door every morning knowing you’re going to kick arse that day. That’s what inspiration does; it’s the little spark that starts it all. Go get ’em you brilliant bastard, I believe in you.

Jonathan Webb – The New Guy.

2 weeks on the job and our diagnosis is…

Following our lab initiative, two amazingly talented individuals have now joined our team. We thought it was only fair to give them a chance to tell you how they are both settling in.


“Some future industry leaders are born. Others are made in The Lab.”

Jonathan Webb – Creative Executive

I have arrived at the end of my second Friday now with the creative team at PLBR and what a two weeks it has been.

I have already been included in numerous projects, which has given me great insight into our current work and the clients we are dealing with. Initially the NAUBE (Numerous Acronyms Used By Everyone) were difficult to grasp, but such is the nature of the healthcare sector I suppose. I feel I have assimilated smoothly into my new job, largely due to the fact that everyone on the PLBR team have been incredibly accommodating, friendly and an all-round great bunch of people.

Any difficulties? Adjusting to working as a team. I have worked as part of a team in many capacities before, but never in a creative one. I have always been the lone ranger artist, I come up with concepts and I know how I want it to look, so I make it that way. Coming to a team environment I have to reign in how I think it should look, and contribute to something to how we all think it should look. I’m getting there sooner than I thought.

JonI feel I have definitely contributed, I feel I at least add a different perspective when looking at things, which is always a great addition to a team of already creative people. I got a few strange looks when I broke out the watercolours instead of designing something digitally, but the end product of what I made people really liked, and was used to show the client one of the concepts, so I’m happy whether I was being placated or not. Taking it ‘old school’, I might just help start a campaign in pastels, not pixels.

All in all, I have loved my time here so far and I don’t want it to end! To know I’m getting paid to do something I love, with really great people is a clichéd ‘dream come true’. Two and a half hour creative brainstorms seem to fly by, and I walk out of the meeting room with a buzz. I feel that I have barely scratched the surface of what I can introduce into this industry. Hopefully, given time, I can shine like the ‘bright spark’ The Lab was looking for.

Amma Osei-Owusu – Account Executive

So the morning of the 28th of October had dawned. And since finding out that I had won a place on the LAB, my mind had not stopped buzzing about all the excitement that lay in store for me. I’d frequently find myself ticking off the days and hours in my mental calendar anticipating my first day, and alas, here it was and not a second too late or a moment too early. Reminiscent of a child on Christmas Morning I found could barely contain my excitement; evidenced by the fact that I was up literally at the crack of dawn! No, I hadn’t lost my mind, it just didn’t occur to me at this point that perhaps I should get some more rest, as far as I was concerned I needed to prepare. Training as a territorial army Cadet had taught me to leave nothing to chance and nothing was going to be left to chance. A woman on a mission I set about executing my regimented plan, dogmatically working out how I was going to manage and dodge any potential mishap and unexpected cannon balls that might threaten to throw me off. I was determined to have the best possible start. I was preparing for what I saw as break of a new dawn and oh boy was I ready for it. And what of self-doubt? Quietly extinguished with a burning yet precautious confidence. I Love a challenge I re-assured myself, bring on the LAB!


The following two weeks flew by like a whirlwind, there was so much to process so quickly, a storm of buzzwords and a hurricane of acronyms being thrown with jargon language flying between them. The task of swallowing them up seemed mammoth at first but with the support of my new colleagues I became partially fluent in this new alien language. I must have been asked a 1001 times about how I was finding my experience, caught off guard and still basking in the shock of it all, I’m pretty sure I replied 1001 times that It was “erm good ..Yeah amazing so far” it seems concentrating in picking up this new vocabulary had conversely limited the range of my existing vocabulary.

Also, I have never been to so many meetings in such a short space of time. From catch up meetings with the Account Executive team in fabulous Soho, to breakfast meetings with Keelie and lunch and learn/account overview meetings within the office, the interaction between staff is fantastic. As well as discovering that I’ll never go hungry here (because of the endless supply of food) I’ve found the communication infrastructure within this agency to be so incredibly efficient, which is vital because with so much going on concerning various clients and projects things could quite easily get extremely manic very quickly. However with effective dialogue streams opened across all sections that is; from the clients to account managers, from the account managers to the creative team and from the creative team to the studio, the process of work progresses very efficiently. In short, things get done and get done well. I can’t wait to discover what else I will learn from this experience, there is so much to pick up on its great. I guess I’m just a sponge soaking it all up.

America needs to loosen up

I have a confession to make.

Like all decent, hard-working people who occasionally work from home, I was doing that thing that you know everyone does whether they’re working from home or not. I was on Facebook. Mainly for recruitment purposes, as you do when you’re intent on adding good people you actually know and like to your growing team (vs. stalking total strangers on LinkedIn and feeling like, well, a stalker). Even with this higher purpose in mind, however, you can’t help clicking on the occasional compelling post that catches your eye.

Which I did, because it’s the day after Election Day in America, and as an American working in the UK I was attracted to a classic Huffington Post click-bait title: A Working Mother’s Plea to the President.


Author’s note: I am not a working mother. I haven’t started a family yet, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it might be on the cards at some point in the future given I’m a newlywed with 34-year old ovaries.

However, the topic is still highly relevant to my day-to-day life now – not only because most of my friends are working parents, but so are many of my colleagues. And anyone responsible for the well-being of a team will tell you – it doesn’t hurt to know where they’re coming from.

So I confess, I clicked.

In it, author Regan Long (a working mother of four), described the whole ‘not wanting to leave your new-born behind’ thing in a way I never quite understood. Maybe because my own mother worked, and furthermore loved work, even admitting to me that she would’ve gone crazy staying home any longer than she did. Which was more than most at the time – she saved and scrimped 12 weeks maternity leave instead of the barbaric six weeks granted American women in the 1980’s (and my mother worked for the federal government!). It wasn’t until 1993 that the Family Leave Act doubled the terms to the 12 weeks my mother had taken 13 years earlier.

So it’s unsurprising that I wasn’t terribly moved by the typically emotional language Long evoked, i.e. “Tomorrow, I will miss the bonding experience that is nursing my baby.” Rather it was how she observed this impact on her baby, the biology of it, as if through the lens of a reporter or third-party witness that got to me: “Tomorrow, I will miss the bonding experience that is nursing my baby. Instead, she will struggle to eat (she doesn’t do well with the bottle) as I rush throughout my day…”

Instead, she will struggle to eat.

I regularly miss my American home and family and friends and food and roads and cars and malls and…I could go on. But this, this I do not miss. In the UK, it’s easy to take for granted that women get varying lengths and amounts of paid maternity leave, that in most cases your job will be held for you for a year, and the government pays families a monthly sum to support this.

So what happens in the office when women leave work for up to a year? That’s where my experience lies, being part of the team that remains on the job when expectant mothers cautiously celebrate their last day before maternity leave. Unsurprisingly, people make it work. We find wonderful freelancers who come into our business lives and often add enormous value, gracefully departing stage left when mothers return. We are lucky enough to be employed by a company that embraces flexible working – and not just for returning mothers. Because life is full of transitions, and everyone comes together to support that; we fill in the gaps and do what needs doing because we inherently buy into it as the right thing to do.

It’s time to catch up America.

Ann Hughes – Associate Director