Women in leadership: Being your own boss, mum guilt, and the desire for career independence

Amanda Barker, Director at Pillar Consulting, always knew she’d be a business owner. Even as a young girl she had the entrepreneurial gene, often setting up stalls to sell fruit or handmade jewellery.

She comes from a family of ‘business owners.’ Both her parents enjoyed the flexibility of being their ‘own boss’ and the benefits that come with it – being present for school holidays, sports days, and the many other demands of children and family life.

So, in 2016, with a 2-year-old and 5-month-old, she announced to her nearest and dearest that she was going to start her own business – no one was overly surprised. Pillar Consulting is hosting the next Business Women’s Network event on the Thursday 10 November, so we asked Amanda about the ups and downs of being your own boss, mum guilt, and the desire for career independence.

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As I write this and reflect on the past six years, I see more and more women setting out on their own, juggling home life and being a mum, with the desire for career independence. One thing that no one mentioned (or maybe they did, and I didn’t listen) when I was in the glorious bubble of creating my own destiny six years ago, was just how difficult it would be, and that mum guilt is so real – layered and complex. It could have its own postcode.

I have spent many hours wondering, are my children going to be screwed up adults because mummy is always in meetings or travelling? Wondering if it’s all worth it. The conclusion that I’ve come to is this: I love my children and my family, and I love my job, and I CAN have both, I just need to be organised.

I am both a mum and a business owner and yes, the juggle is real. But I have found that as long as I do the following, everyone is happy, and the mum guilt is a little less:

  • Exercise is a main priority. I can’t function properly without it. I get up in the morning and go for a walk or go to the gym or Pilates. Even when I am busier than ever before, I make time for it. I’d rather work late than not exercise.
  • Structure is key. Especially around habits and rituals like the same bedtime and morning routine, as well as exercise. A lack of sleep fuels negative emotions and it’s just not worth it.
  • Outsource! The day I organised my house to be cleaned, found a great babysitter(s), ordered My Food Bag deliveries, and planned for online grocery shopping – my life changed for the better.
  • Balance is extremely important. I know that I need my own time, time with my husband, and time with my friends, as well as time working, and exclusive time with my children. I’m pretty good now at working out when the balance isn’t right and what area I need to invest time into to fill my cup.
Amanda Pillar Consulting

Time is precious and I want to spend my time being a happy fun mum, whilst also feeling fulfilled by my career goals. I’ve learned that the best way for me to achieve this is if I’m organised, exercised, and balanced. I don’t have all the answers, but this works for me and I’m grateful that I can have it all.

I built Pillar Consulting because I wanted to be fully flexible around my children and family’s needs. I liked the idea of working from home and not needing to travel to and from the office (like I had just been doing in Sydney). I was also curious to see what I was capable of creating from the ground up.

Pillar Consulting is a health and safety, HR, and recruitment consulting firm. In 2016, Amanda learned about the shocking New Zealand workplace health and safety statistics, and decided she wanted to be involved in making a difference. She spent the year studying, then moved to the Bay of Plenty to start as a sole trader. Fast forward to today, and she now has an amazing business partner and eleven incredible employees, and an office in Australia. Join us at the next BWN Business Behind the Scenes at Pillar Consulting on Thursday 10 November to hear more of Amanda’s incredible journey, and from her almost mostly women’s team.


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