Charlotte Richmond | Aiimi
We are all to aware of the struggles lots of women face when trying to juggle childcare with work, not just logistically but also mentally. There may not be a simple solution for everyone, but here at Women Rock we make it our mission to speak to like-minded women in tech that are navigating this very journey, in hope that these stories resonate and offer advice and inclusivity. Just like Charlotte Richmond’s story! Charlotte share’s her experience with Women Rock Ambassador Aoibheann and also talks about her journey from Mental Health Nursing to an internal recruiter and how understanding mental health is crucial when building teams and businesses…
HEY CHAR! DELIGHTED TO BE SPEAKING WITH YOU AND SHARING A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR CAREER JOURNEY SO FAR. A GREAT PLACE TO START IS YOUR AWESOME “ORIGIN STORY”. SO, TELL ME HOW YOU WENT FROM STUDYING MENTAL HEALTH NURSING TO TECH RECRUITMENT TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE AS HEAD OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND WELLBEING IN A TECH & DATA COMPANY?
When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do… I just knew that I wanted to work with people. I took some time out to travel and worked in a local recruitment agency before a friend told me about Mental Health Nursing. It sounded perfect for me so off I went to complete my training at the University of Hertfordshire.
Life doesn’t always take us in the most direct of paths and I found myself on a bit of a zig zag journey after uni. I worked for a charity but was struggling financially to support myself, so ended up joining a consultancy in their in-house recruitment team.
I spent 10 years working in internal recruitment, the skills I gained studying and working in mental health really came in handy for growing teams and businesses. I always worked with wellbeing at the forefront and last year the time felt right to move away from the recruitment element of my role and focus in on engagement and wellbeing.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU HAD A CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE ADJUSTING TO LIFE AS A WORKING PARENT IN TECH. HAS THAT EXPERIENCE SHAPED HOW YOU SUPPORT WORKING PARENTS IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT AIIMI?
Most definitely. I have always used the phrase “it takes a village” when talking about raising my daughter, and Aiimi is a huge part of my village! I struggled with juggling childcare, a partner working shifts, commuting into the city 4 days a week… I could go on! Luna was 14 months old when I joined Aiimi and they gave me the space I needed to be both a mother and a employee. My approach to others in the company that are starting or growing their family has been led by that example. I take the time to understand what their specific needs are and then work with them to get the right support in place, adapting as needed as any working parent will know it is never a smooth ride!
(Here is a blog I wrote about it for context if this helps 😊)
A LOT OF WORKPLACES MAY SAY THAT THEY SUPPORT THEIR EMPLOYEES WITH THEIR MENTAL HEALTH, BUT IT’S ONE THING TO “TALK THE TALK” AND A WHOLE OTHER THING TO ACTUALLY CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY CAN BE OPEN AND ACTUALLY ASK FOR SUPPORT IF THEY NEED IT! HOW COULD SOMEONE GO ABOUT CREATING A SUPPORTIVE WORKPLACE?
Openness and honesty is key to this, but it really needs to be driven from the top down. Seeing our CEO, Steve Salvin, talk about his own journey with their mental health in my first month at Aiimi was such an eye opener! From there, other people started opening up and soon I found myself standing up at a team meeting talking about counselling I was having via Aiimi and encouraging others to seek support if they needed it. Fostering a safe environment to talk about mental health isn’t easy and takes time, we are always working at getting this right, seeking feedback, adapting as needed. It should be seen as an ongoing process that needs to be nurtured.
FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO PERHAPS DON’T HAVE AN INFLUENCE ON SPECIFIC MENTAL HEALTH POLICY IN THEIR WORKPLACE, WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO THEM TO SUPPORT THEIR OWN MENTAL WELLBEING AT WORK?
If I were in this situation I would consider who might have the influence needed to impact change and speak to them. Rallying others who are similarly passionate about mental wellbeing in the workplace and seeing if as a collective you could be more impactful would be my advice. Setting up an internal initiative that focuses on finding ways to support both yourselves and each other can be a great starting point and is likely to open up ways of looking after your own mental health that you wouldn’t have come across otherwise.
AS A CAREER CHANGER MYSELF, I ALWAYS LOVE TO HEAR HOW OTHERS HAVE MADE THEIR OWN CAREER TRANSITIONS AND WHAT ADVICE THEY’D GIVE TO OTHERS. IF THERE’S SOMEONE READING THIS WHO WANTS TO BREAK INTO TECH BUT DOESN’T KNOW WHERE TO START, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Research, research, research! Really take the time to understand what it is you want to do in tech, where you want to do, the type of company you want to work for, the values they have and how the align to you. Once you narrow down the field, tech is a much less daunting place and you can then do a really focused search and find the right role, at the right company that will see you flourish in your new role in tech!
FINALLY, ARE THERE ANY QUOTES/MANTRAS/WORDS OF WISDOM THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR WOMEN ROCKERS?
Something I wish I had realised earlier on in my career is that you don’t always need to know everything about a job to be able to do it… sometimes having the passion and drive to gain the experience on the job is just as attractive to an employer!
We couldn’t agree more! Thanks Char – you rock!