Mizzy Lees from Mr. President: Working challenges, and how your employer can make all the difference

Published: 22/06/2021

At myTamarin, we love talking to people leaders who make it work for them and the people around them.

Mizzy Lees is People Director of the London based creative agency Mr. President, and Mum to Francesca (8) and Jack (5). She lives in Hampstead, survives on coffee, thrives on human contact and works tirelessly to keep things moving forward. We asked her what makes her tick and how we move out of pandemic working patterns.

Flex into the challenge of the pandemic

At Mr. President we have always worked flexibly. Our senior leadership team are all parents so it was just the norm for us. When the pandemic hit and we found ourselves at home, it wasn’t unusual for someone’s ‘mini’ to turn up at a meeting and we were all very accepting of that. I regularly check-in with our working parents to ensure they have the support they need to balance their work and home life. Children grow up or new babies arrive, circumstances change all the time, so we keep the conversation going to ensure the team has what they need, feel supported and understood.

Hybrid working has to be collaborative

Our flexible working policy still stands, we’ll also be moving to a hybrid-working model when we get the green light from the government to encourage our team to come back to the office. We’ve been asking the team for their view on how they would like to work - we all agree that working from home offers us all much more flexibility to manage our personal lives, whether we’re parents or not, but we also agree that we need a time and a place to see each other and collaborate in person. Hybrid means finding the balance between working from home and working from the office. There is no one size fits all, and it will be a work in progress to start, but we’re going to do what we can to support individual needs whilst also bringing the full group together to build back our culture better. We’re on the journey to find the right balance. 

Trust each other 

Working parents need a supportive employer who understands the requirements put on them at home. They need an employer who trusts them to do their job and to judge them only on the quality of their output, not hours spent in an office or online. Once you have this relationship of trust established between employer and employee, flexible working works at its best, employees thrive and it can only be good for business.

Communication is king at Mr President

Keep communication channels open, and - expect the unexpected, sometimes life with kids doesn’t quite go as planned. Above all, never underestimate the ability of a working parent to be able to juggle and make it work, they are incredibly resourceful, determined and effective.

Keeping boundaries, shutting down guilt

When the pandemic hit, my two clearly defined roles as Mummy at home and People Director at Mr. President became blurred. I desperately missed shutting the door on each side of my life, going through the commute to emerge on the other side as my work or home self. I recognised the importance of this. As a working parent I need boundaries across my multiple roles, a huge level of self discipline to keep me focussed when I’m in each role and a level of flexibility and understanding on both sides. I also learnt to not give myself a hard time when things didn’t always go as I planned.

Be kind to yourself, none of this is easy. 

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