Getting back to the office after my Maternity leave has helped me realize how much I had grown into a new role, a added bonus to Motherhood!
Back in 2014, American Greeting’s Cardstone (a company that helps people design and dispatch custom greeting cards for various occasions) released an unconventional (and controversial) digital advertisement for Mother’s Day. They posted a fake job ad where they appeared to be seeking a “Director of Operations”, and went on to conduct (and record!) actual web-based interviews with people who responded! They aired a 4-minute video showcasing those interviews, under the #worldstoughestjob hashtag. Needless to say, it went viral!
Writer Mary Elisabeth Williams was not sold, though. She expressed strong concerns over the analogy between Motherhood and Work, arguing that raising children is “not a résumé item”. I’m with her on some of the stuff she said, like the need to shift focus towards bridging the salary gap and ending rape culture, but I don’t expect her to follow my blog any time soon. I think she (and others who walk down that same line of thought) is failing to acknowledge an important element of the message Cardstone was trying to convey here.
It’s not about the Title per se. Its not about wether it’s a Job or not either. The undisputed relevance hides in the particulars: The Skills! Let’s dig a bit deeper into that “fake” Job Description, shall we? Here it is:
Operations Management: Director of Operations
Area of Talent: Managers/Directors/Administrators
Position Type: Full-Time
Location: Rehtom Inc.
Shift: Full-time, 24/7 on call
Salary: Pro bono/unpaid
Rehtom Inc. is seeking a Director of Operations for its long-term development department. The primary responsibilities of the director are to provide day-to-day management, leadership and support to up-and-coming development associates.
Essential Duties & Job Responsibilities:
Oversee the overall day-to-day success and development of all associates. They are fully dependent on you.
Provide appropriate solutions to satisfy all associate needs, including but not limited to comfort, security, support, growth, knowledge, well-being, structure, consistency, discipline, acknowledgment, preparedness, safety, mobility, capability, facility and tranquillity.
Track daily, weekly and monthly associate development against assigned goals and expectations.
Process high volumes of incoming and outgoing projects, deliveries, requests, complaints, feedback and special orders from associates and corresponding outside vendors.
Provide operational leadership to multiple associates at once.
Must be able to work 135+ hours a week
Ability to work overnight, associate needs pending
Willingness to forgo any breaks
Work mostly standing up and/or bending down
Must be able to lift up to 75 lbs. on a regular basis
Ph.D. in psychology or real-life equivalent
Crisis management skills a must
Ability to manage a minimum of 10-15 projects at one time
Ability to communicate at all levels (basic to advanced)
Ability to improvise
Proficient in handling sticky situations (literally and figuratively)
Ability to coordinate multiple, often conflicting, schedules
Ability to make independent decisions on behalf of others
Ability to work with associates with minimal ability
Ability to work in a chaotic environment
Frequent travel; minivan driving experience a plus
Excellent interpersonal skills and a collaborative approach
Flexible when it comes to surprise requests
Demonstrated knowledge and experience in negotiating, counseling and culinary arts
Understanding of social media, mobile devices and video games
Understanding of finance
Understanding of medicine
Valid driverâ€™s license, CPR certification and Red Cross membership
Ability to wear several hats, professional and domestic
Positive disposition at all times
While no health or dental insurance, no pension and no paid holidays are offered, this job provides infinite opportunities for personal growth and rewards. Emotional fulfillment and extraordinary impact on associate success provides a lifetime of purpose and meaningful connection.
The job description is meant to cause some laughs, but the people who responded to the ad didn’t see through it. Even the 24/7 on-call pro-bono part wasn’t enough cause for concern. But, setting aside the cultural hint on the modern world of work meant for human resource futurists to explore, some parts of that “fake” job description resonated with me and got me thinking!
- Crisis Management? Check!
- Communicating at all levels? Smooth!
- Managing 15 projects at a time? Yes!
- Unlimited patience? Totally!
- Ability to wear several hats? You bet!
But, why were people skeptical about this ad? How far off was that “fake” Director of Operations from an actual textbook Operations Manager? Here’s some more digging.
The guys from Hired.com, outline an Operations Manager as someone who:
Oversees every aspect of production and the day-to-day activities of an organization. In this role, you’ll use your business savvy and know how to streamline operational systems, build a talented workforce, improve quality and increase revenues.
This tells me that the role of a Mother, overseeing the day-to-day of her nest, getting savvy in all things family and working diligently on promoting growth and quality of life at home is, hands down, 100% analogous! Substitute talented workforce with growing toddler, and business savvy with family wisdom, and you got yourself an undisputed link uniting both worlds! I honestly can’t grasp how one can miss this one!
Let’s revisit the topic from a different angle now, and go skill-wise. Lerisa Roberts, Head Tutor for the UCT Operations Management short e-course, outlines the following characteristics and skills in a good Operations Manager:
- Strong communication skills
- Good motivational skills
- Strong negotiation skills
- Exceptional organisational skills
- Awareness of internal and external customer needs
Mothers embark on their journey with the toughest task of all: rely on non-verbal communication to make life-binding calls! They soon realize that the better they become at motivating their kids, the faster their growth it! An if you ever had to negotiate life with a toddler or a teen, you know for a fact how Moms are, by design, negotiating experts. Juggling life commitments while keeping the eye on the ball of being present and authentic in their munchkins’ existence speaks volumes on any Mom’s organizational skills. Oh and any Mother knows beforehand where that “thing” you are looking for is, even if you haven’t specifically named it. So why all the criticism and negativity? Beats me!
After a full year on Maternity Leave (thanks to my super generous Employer and, well, Greece!) and a month back into the Workforce, I already see myself having adopted many of the traits of an Operations Manager, and I’m not afraid to re-open the discussion around this. I began to see now how my essential duties and responsibilities as a n IT Workforce Management Unit Supervisor are not that irrelevant to Motherhood either:
- What did we do as early as Day 1 on the Job? We worked towards getting me onboard and briefed, so that I began to oversee the overall day-to-day success and development of our unit. Same as I did when our son entered our lives and me and the hubby needed to get onboard (fast!) and define our (new) priorities! (PS: Trello rocks!)
- On Day 3, as the team was getting comfy with the line of work after the Summer Break, we began troubleshooting to meet our goals. Our team is small and flexible, so processing high volumes of incoming and outgoing projects, deliveries, requests, feedback, complaints and special orders is our bread and butter! Same experience with Motherhood, less standing up though!
- During our Daily Scrum meeting (which actually is a stand-up one!), we discuss and track daily, development against assigned goals and expectations, and my role is to provide operational leadership. Same as home-life, with the added-bonus of having verbal communication! Sweet!
So, there you have it, Momma: any way you look at it, your role, skills and day-to-day are not far-off from the profile of an Operations Manager. So remember this next time you appear in front of a hiring panel being interviewed for a job. Whether you are getting back from your Maternity Leave or looking to transition to a new role, the things you practice at home are more similar to work-life than you may originally think they are. Look out for those similarities and strengthen your case of “why you are a great fit for any given role”. This blog is your tool for success: devoted to keep gearing you up with reasons why you are destined to succeed in any role you put your mind to, especially that of an Operations Manager
As for you, my dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager, with a new worm season ahead, I’m still here building the case towards a Mother’s Job Description, one Creative Analogy at a time. And I will keep doing that, until I have you all onboard to acknowledge that, in some openings like the position of an Operations Manager, that Mom on your candidate list is, by far, your best bet!
To all Operations Mamagers out there; You got this!