Inspirational Woman: Donna Davis | Founder, More Than Mum Network

Donna DaviesDonna Davies is a mum of two from Huddersfield, Yorkshire she is a successful Mumtrepreneur and Best-Selling Author of her debut book, Don’t Judge Me.

Donna is a HR expert, ‘People Experience’ strategist, and founder of More Than Mum Network. She is committed to supporting women returning to work after maternity through her services at More Than Mum Network, and she has already helped many mums from across the region, who felt lost due to the lack of support from workplaces transitioning back into a career after maternity leave. She has also worked with women globally through her online services and video coaching and the book is an extension of this, enabling her to reach an even wider audience, in a very accessible way.

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Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I spent 15 years in the corporate world as a People Strategist, specialising in Learning & Development and Business Transformation. I successfully climbed the management ladder, earning my seat on the Executive board. But, I didn’t feel fulfilled, even when I had the opportunity to influence the direction of the business, and managing the impact on colleagues.

I have two sons and I found returning to work difficult after both of them. The first time I only took 16 weeks maternity leave and I soon realised how difficult it was to strike the family and work-life balance. After my second child, I knew I wanted to spend more time at home with him, but it wasn’t so easy, and when I returned to work I felt broken. I was working with a male leadership team who has very little understanding. After a while, I soon realised there was no more I could do in the company and decided to leave and start my own business.

I launched the More Than Mum Network to support women returning to work after maternity and I have already helped many mums from across the Yorkshire region, who felt lost due to the lack of support from workplaces transitioning back into a career after maternity leave. I have also worked with women globally through my online services and video coaching. However, my support is two-fold as I also work with organisations. I launched Conscious Benefits to help create conscious minded employers who put their employees mental and emotional wellbeing first. Employees go through many life events, such as becoming a parent or going through a divorce, and these can impact their emotional wellbeing. We create bespoke solutions so organisations are equipped with the right tools and strategies to support their colleagues through these times.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No I didn’t plan any of my career! For years I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I stayed at the same company, working my way up because I wasn’t sure what else to do. Because I worked so hard, I had plenty of great opportunities and finally earned a place on the Executive Team. Although I enjoyed the challenges that came with the role, it didn’t fulfil me in the way I’d imagined it would. This became more apparent when I returned to work after my second son was born. When I quit my job, I suffered from anxiety and major confidence issues, but I found support in a women’s online community, Female Success Network. Driven on by other inspiring female entrepreneurs and receiving coaching and help from leading businesswomen, I found the strength I needed to launch More Than Mum Network & Conscious Benefits. Working alongside this team of incredible women helped me to strategically plan and come up with a business model that reaches my audience, achieves my aims and brings in financial reward.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

It hasn’t been easy – I suffered post and prenatal depression, hormonal imbalance and anxiety along with HR struggles at work. I also suffered with a lot of ‘mum guilt’ and felt pressured by picture-perfect mums on social mum. But, once I had gained the confidence I needed from women who ‘collaborate not compete’ – I was passionate about turning my hardships, into a way to help others in the same situations I had been in.

Writing my book ‘Don’t Judge Me’ also helped me to deal with and reflect on some of the challenges I have faced. The book covers subjects from maternal mental health, to the importance of self care, exploring the impact family dynamics can have, to dealing with judgement in the workplace – I have combined real life experiences with practical exercises and a strong focus on mindset to help the reader identify their own feelings and work through them. I couldn’t believe it when it became a best-seller on Amazon within 3 hours of its launch! It was my passion to write this book for mums everywhere, focusing on breaking the cycle of ‘mum guilt’ and overwhelm.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

To ensure that all workplaces had a supportive return to work process that helps women transition back into their career after maternity leave.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think it is fantastic… I’ve had two mentors throughout my career. I found having the accountability of a mentor enabled me to gain the clarity and strategy I needed to pursue the goals I had set. I could also have an honest conversation about any issues or worries I had without feeling judged.

What tips or advice would you give for mums (or dads) looking to return to work?

Plan in advance. Do not leave everything until the last minute or you risk spoiling the last few weeks of maternity/paternity leave stressing about work. So plan in advance what you need to do and get organised.

Don’t be scared to ask for what you want. If you want flexible working, part-time hours or a job-share, ask for it. If the answer if no, as long as you have left enough time, you should be able to negotiate and agree on a solution that suits you and your employer.

Create a home schedule. Meal plans, drop-off and pick-up times and locations, events, work commitments. Plan and prepare on a Sunday so you avoid any last minute panics.
Emergency plan. There is nothing worse than a baby becoming ill through the night and you then have the awful task of either phoning in work and begging for time off or having to find childcare. So create a plan for all eventualities.

Take some time for you. Perhaps a few hours to get your hair and nails done. Whatever it is, put yourself first before you go full steam ahead at work.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Obviously having my sons – Connor and Joseph.

Business wise, the release of my book ‘Don’t Judge Me’ was a huge achievement as it became an Amazon number 1 best seller in the “Child Care” genre, which covers a huge variety of books for parenting and families… overtaking the like of Super Nanny Jo Frost… this was overwhelming! I also co-authored another Number 1 bestseller a week after the launch of mine, ‘She Who Dares’ so these are moments I’m really proud of.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’ll continue to use my approach and experience both in HR and as a working mum to continue to help more women returning to work.

I’m also launching the ‘Conscious Employer Awards’ in early 2019 – which I’m very excited about. It will be a great opportunity to showcase some amazing companies and the work they do to support employees.

Buy Donna’s debut book, Don’t Judge Me. Available on Amazon

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