Head of Childcare Operations at Sunhill Daycare
Why we chose Kirsty:
Kirsty played a big role in creating an inspirational new environment for children to learn in, with positive feedback from parents, children and staff. She is also a pioneer of giving access to benefits and wellbeing tools to staff, launching both at Sunhill Daycare – much to the delight of their employees.
What’s your ‘why’? How do you balance work and life responsibilities to fulfil it?
My ‘why’ is my passion for the Early Years Sector. I am extremely committed, I love what I do, and I love to inspire others! Working in Early Years is rewarding in so many ways, and we are very lucky to have a positive impact in so many lives. From giving children the very best start to life, building a secure foundation for lifelong learning - to helping parents make the transition back to work knowing that their most precious possessions are well cared for - we really do make such a difference in many lives.
Personally, as a working mother, a very big part of my ‘why’ is also to provide my own two children with a ‘can do’ attitude, and demonstrating that they can achieve anything that they set their hearts and minds to with the right mindset. This is the same drive that I have professionally for the children in our settings, and staff team.
Balancing work and life responsibilities is achievable with a bit of positivity! At Sunhill Daycare, I am fortunate enough to work for a very flexible employer. This works both ways in my dedication in going above and beyond to fulfil my job role, and in my employer being flexible with working hours, which helps overcome the challenges and guilt of being a working parent. I am organised at work and manage time effectively, which gives me valuable time to spend with my children and family. I see my work as far more than just a job!
Can you explain an initiative you've implemented that has made an impact in your workplace?
At Sunhill Daycare, in the last year we have opened two new sites which has led to a growth in our workforce. We have also experienced a large increase in child occupancy in the last 2 years, which has also led to more employees. As my role has changed with more sites, I have had to develop the way in which we communicate with employees. Following this, I have introduced a online group for sharing ideas between employees and sites, and for updates and communication. This has really taken off, and it is great to see staff using it to share ideas. As the group is online, we have found that some of the less confident staff are contributing more - which is great for their well-being and teamwork.
The recognition page on Perkbox has also been really valuable in having an impact on the team, acknowledging where staff have excelled, and showing appreciation to staff to ensure that they feel valued. We have had some really great feedback on this, and have noticed the impact on productivity in the workplace.
As a female leader, what have been the most significant barriers in your career?
I am fortunate enough to have worked with some inspirational females throughout my career, who have given me the drive and enthusiasm to succeed.
The most significant barrier has probably been overcoming the guilt and challenges of being a working mother - juggling work, home and children - and this is why it is a big part of ’my why‘. I am really lucky to have a very supportive family and a flexible employer, which has helped to overcome barriers with organisation and a positive attitude. The key is learning to forget the guilt!
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Balance work and life together and you will be able to achieve your goals. Don’t give up on being a working mother - with the right attitude you can manage both. Work hard at work, but play harder at home. Forget the guilt, prioritise and think about what a fantastic role model you are being for your own children.