2019-11-25 | Podcasts
Men Can Flex - Aviva, Group Sustainability & Public Policy Director, Sam White and Will McDonald

Men Can Flex - Aviva, Group Sustainability & Public Policy Director, Sam White and Will McDonald

E7 S1 - Talk Roleshare Podcast

Have you attached a persona to the concept of flexible working? If so, I bet few people imagined Sam White and Will McDonald - two fathers,  sharing the executive role of Group Sustainability & Public Policy Director at Aviva. What started as a pilot to accommodate their personal lives with career dedication, has continued into a dynamic and productive job share micro-team for the last two years. Learn how they make their roleshare arrangement "seamless from the outside." Photo Credit: DadBlogUK.com

Episode Transcript

Sophie Smallwood: Hey, this is Talk with Roleshare, I'm Sophie Smallwood, co-founder of Roleshare.com. Have you attached the persona to the concept of flexible working? If so, I bet a few people imagine today's guest Sam White and Will McDonald for sharing the executive role of group sustainability and public policy director at Aviva. What started as a successful pilot to accommodate the personal lives with career dedication for the last two years has continued into a dynamic and productive micro team. Here is Sam to explain about their role.

Sam White: Will and I share the role of Group Public Policy and Sustainability Director. So, we run a number of teams in the group center of Aviva, the insurance company. We work for the company secretary. Our roles are pretty broad and it's got a long title because we've accumulated new bits as we've gone along. Essentially, we help Aviva to manage its relationship with bodies like the UN or the EU or some governments and help it fulfill its duties as a responsible company on issues like climate change, sustainability, good business ethics and issues like that. We run, essentially, three main teams in the group center and we're involved in various leadership roles in the company, including our boss's legal executive team.

Sophie Smallwood: So I love hearing the male voice when it comes to flexible working and I would love to know how the two of you came together. What's the story behind your approach to flexibility and why did you need this in your life? Perhaps, Will, you can touch on that.

Will McDonald: Yeah, sure. It was a relatively long journey for us and we are what we call a warm job share in that we knew each other before we started sharing the role. So, we've both been at Aviva for about six years, seven years. And over that time, Sam was my boss for a large part of that. But I had acted into his role full time for coming up for a year as Sam had taken a bit of leave, including around his second child. And so I had been doing four days a week and I'd been doing that because me and my wife had three kids who are all under seven. So we decided to try and have all our children in a quick bunch together, with some strange logic that that would be easier.

Sophie Smallwood: Short term pain, long term gain.

Will McDonald: Exactly. That was that. I'll let you know how we get on with it. I'd been doing four days a week and I'd been struggling with that a bit. It was great on the day off. But it does mean that on Monday you come in and when you haven't worked on Friday, you're kind of chasing your tail. You can't quite crack on with Monday because you're still dealing with all the things that came in on Friday. And our jobs are relatively fast-moving, relatively externally-facing, and quite reactive to a certain extent. What's happening in the outside world is important. So I was finding that frustrating and it meant I was probably working Tuesday, Thursday and a bit of Sunday evening to try and make up for the Friday. And that was worth it as a compromise because I got some brilliant time with my kids on the Friday. So, I ended up acting into Sam's job while he was off when he had a second child. And when he came back, I'd been thinking quite hard about a job share as a way of getting around the problems of part-time working, where you haven't got someone else doing the role when you're not in work. So, I mentioned it to Sam and after a couple of day's thought, Sam came back very enthusiastic. We gave it a try and then we spent quite a lot of time putting some research into it, making the business case, working out how people do it. What's the right way to approach it, how do you set it up for success? And in the end, our boss was very supportive. So, we started relatively quickly and we're coming up for two years now.

Sophie Smallwood: When you initially presented this to your boss, clearly there must have been a panel of approval. Was that difficult to achieve? Perhaps you can talk us through a little bit of the operational aspect behind setting up your particular role.

Sam White: We came up with this idea while I was still on parental leave. And we thought this is kind of novel in the sense that we've just never tried doing this at director level before. So, we're going to have to think about how we present it and how we make sure this is doable. And a win-win. So, we went to see our boss, Kirsty Cooper, and proposed it as a six month initially and said, look, it's down to us to show that we can make this work and we would deliver you at least a good level of service as either one of us would delivering by ourselves. And to her credit, Kirsty said, yep, I'm on board, let's make this happen. And she spoke to some of our other colleagues. She's a member of our group executive. We run the company and we work, in effect, for a lot of those regularly. So, she needed to get a bit of buy-in from them to give the child. But we felt by pitching it as a trial, it felt like a low-risk opportunity to explore it. And we put the onus on us to prove that it could be a success. After six months in the role, Kirsty spoke to some of our colleagues and came back and said to us that everyone thought it was working incredibly well. Even people who were initially skeptical said I'm a convert to it. They're doing a great job. So we've now been doing it for two years.

Sophie Smallwood: How many people report into you?

Sam White: We have five direct reports and a total team coming up to about twenty.

Sophie Smallwood: How do you think they would describe your arrangement as far as their experience?

Will McDonald: We know empirically how they feel because we did a short, anonymous survey about a few months ago and we got a very good response rate and we got about ninety-six percent saying the job share was either working extremely well or very well for them. So, that was really positive.

Sam White: These are dictator level approval ratings.

Will McDonald: We spend quite a lot of time communicating with them and we do take very seriously the onus for the job share that work is on us and that we will make it work from you. So, seamless from the outside is one of our principles, and that applies down, sideways, up, CEOs, whoever it is we're talking to, it's our job to make it work for you.

Sophie Smallwood: How does your arrangement make it better for the team and for other people around you?

Sam White: In terms of general benefits of it, you've got two brains for the price of one and all the creativity and contacts and experience that brings. Something I always find as well is, by only working three days each, I certainly come at it with loads more energy, and I suspect I probably get about almost as much done in the three days as I used to get done in four or five because you come back renewed. I wanted to do that so I got more time with my kids. But when you spent time in soft play areas and scraping porridge off the floor, coming back to what's actually demanding and fast-moving you're in the mood for it, so you can really throw yourself at it and do a brilliant job. For our colleagues both as Will and I said, who we deal with in all directions, the key point is to be seamless and not to add additional complexity, or having to tell us twice. So, if you tell one of us something, you tell both of us, we have a handover which is absolutely critical and we put in place a mechanism depending on what people like. So, the last CEO who's now left, he liked to work by WhatsApp and he would always say, I don't want to have a remember who's on duty today. So, we just have a WhatsApp group with the three of us, whatever his request for information or whatever it was, and whoever was on duty would just pick it up. So, as Will said, the idea is to be seamless.

Sophie Smallwood: Fantastic. Yeah, it makes sense. I also understand that you have an executive assistant. Do you feel that she plays a big role in helping with the seamlessness?

Will McDonald: Yes, very much. We have an excellent executive assistant and she was awesome even before we started job sharing.

Sam White: Yeah, shoutout to Siobhan Ganon.

Will McDonald: But she is also extremely good at managing the diary. So, we don't run joint email addresses, which lots of job sharers do. But we do run a joint calendar. She is hypercritical to that being one version of the truth, and a reliable place to go, with all the information in it. That is very helpful and she is wonderful. I know there are lots of examples of people up and down organizations in all kinds of different roles where job shares have worked. So our's is definitely helped by our executive assistant's role. But we do know lots of examples of people where they've managed to make it work without the third party help.

Sophie Smallwood: So would you say that the two of you complement each other?

Sam White: We never complement each other. We've got quite a few things in common, but we're different, too. Will's kept his hair. I don't know that it's necessary that we are similar or different that is critical here. What's made it work for us is having invested a lot of time early on in getting a shared vision of what we are trying to achieve and it getting on paper. And we've got in the form of a single page of paper with about 13 or 14 principles. Things like 'seamless from the outside' and 'when in charge, take charge' and things like that, that articulate how we'll work and what we're trying to achieve and take a lot of opportunity for error or thinking the other person has interpretted something differently than you would out of the equation. We're able to work very fluidly, and Will often says, you don't have to like each other, you just have to trust each other, which I try not to take offense at. I think we have quite a lot in common, but I don't think that's a critical thing. I think as long as you both want to make it work and have invested that time in that shared vision, that is more important in this area than whether you're similar or different.

Sophie Smallwood: Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. One of the things I think about when it comes to shared roles is that you have an opportunity as an organization to, in essence, get to a synergized micro team. The way I think of job shares is really more in the sense of a micro team where you can upscale each other and you can learn and you can, in essence, really focus on your strengths. So, based on that, how do you guys split up the role? Do you have your own areas of ownership?

Will McDonald: We operate very much as one full-time role, one full-time person. And that's quite an important guiding principle. It tells you how you can organize your holidays. It doesn't matter if we're both on holiday the same week, because if you think what would happen if one person were doing this role and that one person would be on holiday that week. So it's helpful as a guiding principle for things like that. But it's also how we run, how we achieve our objectives. So, we both do all the role. There are a few job shares out there where people split by project. But I think there's a danger that you end up basically having two part-time workers. That fails to capture the true benefit of a job share, which is that when I'm not in work, as I was, say, Monday and Tuesday this week, I'm with the kids, and I'm fully engaged with them, safe in the knowledge that someone I trust is doing a brilliant job in the role. And in fact, more than that, if I start to work on those days, if I send the odd email or I take a phone call, I actively interfere in how Sam is doing the job. And the same is true when he's off. So, it's really important that we have shared objectives and that we're both responsible for moving those projects forward each and every week. So we run it very much as fast as one person doing one job.

Sophie Smallwood: So, Sam, this is the beginning of your weekend, am I correct? Almost.

Sam White: Yeah, that's it.

Sophie Smallwood: And we are Wednesday today.

Sam White: I know you've got a son, so you'll know that the time you spend looking after small children is anything but time off. It's wonderful but every bit as demanding in its own way.

Sophie Smallwood: It's exhausting. Let's just be real.

Sam White: I come to work for the coffee and the ability to read a newspaper uninterrupted.

Sophie Smallwood: It's a break going to work compared to raising kids. I think there's a break. Absolutely. So we've been doing this for two years. In one word, how would you each describe the concept of sharing a role?

Will McDonald: I would say balance. What it's done for my relationship with my kids is incredible. Just by spending time with them on the daily grind of getting them school, getting them dressed and all the fun bits doing all they're reading and they're learning and doing everything with them is, it's transformed my relationship from when I was working four days or five days. So I would say balance.

Sam White: I'm to go with grateful because I feel very fortunate that I've had this opportunity and Aviva have been great about letting us do this and frankly, grateful to wait as well for making it work and such a pleasure to do. Because, like you, the upshot is I get to spend a couple of days a week looking after my kids. My wife's been able to go back to work, also working a three day week. So we have found something which is very special for us and allows us to both have that time with the family, but also still continue to do a really interesting job that is intellectually demanding, is full of challenge, and that I can really deliver a high standard, high-quality, output to, which wouldn't be possible if it wasn't this job share combination, that I don't think you could do in three days otherwise.

Sophie Smallwood: When your children grow up and your need to be at home with them, or your desire to be at home with them perhaps lessons, do you think you would still want to continue in this arrangement? And if so, how would you see yourself using that time?

Will McDonald: I don't see it as a permanent, forever fixture necessarily. But it could be two years. It could be five years. It could be ten years. And what's really important is this conversation three are clearly all parents, and that's where our focus is. But there's a lot of people who have caring responsibilities. There's a lot of people increasingly in Aviva we've got people working four days a week and one day a week they're running a little startup business or they've got a hobby on the side. And I think it's really important if you want to get the best person at work, that you've let them be who they want to be outside work as well. So, I think there's lots of reasons. It won't be just kids why people should job share and the balance and freedom it gives you.

Sam White: I remember, when we were going starting job sharing, we just spoke to loads of job sharers to understand the pitfalls. And we wanted to make our six-month trial a massive success. So, we spoke to a lot of people and I remember one of the things that struck me was the number who said you never go back. Now, that's not our intention. But they would tell stories about say, by the time my kids got to school, I suddenly thought, well, hold on now these two days are my days and I'm going to use them to advance some other aspect of my life that I'm really keen on. Be it something creative or something just a hobby or something very left field. And some of them said, we thought we would go back to working five days a week, but once you're a job sharer, you never want to stop being a job sharer.

Sophie Smallwood: It becomes a bit addictive. From what I'm understanding, the individuals I've spoken with, is the output is incredible. It seems that it's a huge gain for the company as well, as you said, two brains for the price of one. Now, let me ask you a question on that point, the price of one. Really, is it the price of one? Because ultimately you are working six days. There are benefit considerations. And I know for me this is a question that keeps coming up. How do you answer that when perhaps that question comes up to you when you're speaking to people about your arrangement?

Will McDonald: I would say the arrangement is slightly more expensive than a single FTE. If the challenge came up, would you do two and a half days, not three days in order to get that cost down? I would still do it. It would involve a lot of work, but the benefits are huge. It's a small amount of money on top with huge benefits. And if you look at it in the round, it will make sense. But I have to say, we've been very lucky. Aviva's been very supportive, and that has set us onto a path of high success. We have already delivered lots of big projects. We manage quite a lot of the company's Brexit work that's been ongoing all this time.

Sam White: That's kept us busy.

Will McDonald: You can take the question about cost off the table by doing a brilliant job.

Sam White: There was a period where there was a director of public policy and the director of sustainability. And before we started the job share, we actually ended up merging two other jobs usually done by two people, just sort of having a bigger portfolio, we absorbed additional responsibilities over the years we've been here. So, It is a big role. And whether the company chose to support that with two separate FTEs, as they did, say, six, seven years ago, or with one FTE or in our case one-point-two or whatever it is, you could make the argument it's about the amount of resources needed to deliver the scope of work you've been put across. And I'd say even more importantly, it's about the value added to the cost you are. I suppose it should have gone in company life.

Sophie Smallwood: So, job sharing, role sharing, micro teaming, so many ways. I'm toying with referring to it, but it's been around for a while, and yet it seems that awareness is still low. Perhaps not in all companies, perhaps in Aviva, because you're senior individuals, people are more aware of it, but awareness is still relatively low. How do we increase awareness? Why do you think perhaps people don't know about it? And even when a company offers it as a perk, officially, adoption still seems to be low.

Will McDonald: You get two reactions when you talk about job sharing. The one sort of hard line one is real men don't job share. That's a male version of it, which is the same attitude that's true around any kind of flexible working, any kind of non-standard hours. The more common reaction is, that sounds great, but it wouldn't work in my role. And actually, you don't need to spend very long, a couple of minutes with someone talking about our role, how it's externally facing; how it's twenty-four hours; how we are dealing directly with CEOs around the world every day; how we have large budgets; we've got a reasonably sized team, all these things. And the people need to take a bit of a leap of faith just to view it as a possible, positive thing to get in the right frame of mind. It's tricky on awareness. We do try and raise awareness of job shares because we do think it's important. So we do that internally, in the company, and we do that externally. What's interesting and it is true, if you look at when I drop my kids off at school in the morning, there are a lot more dads and the grandparents dropping off and picking up from school than there were not that long ago. So, something is happening in society where families and couples are trying to find different ways of sharing. We know from research that dads, especially millennials, also our generation as well, are really keen to spend more time with their children. Much more than our dad's generation did. And that pressure from society is growing. And we're seeing slowly sites like Roleshare start-up and that will help.

Sophie Smallwood: Sam, anything you wanted to add?

Sam White: Yeah, they're not that well known. The idea of job sharing, which is kind of odd, because there's some upsides to it. There can be a perception when asking to do any flexible working or job sharing that you are taking your foot off the accelerator. I did get asked the question quite early on, when we pitched this, is this you leaning out? To which my answer was no, this is not me leaning out. This is a period of my life where my children are very small and I will never get back. And I want to spend some of that with them. But by making it a job share with Will, both of us who have done this well independently knew we could deliver it well, but doing it together. Far from leaning out, we will both lean in while we're here and deliver a brilliant outcome. I thought last year was a particularly good year, things we achieved, but they still have expectations, all that perception that it might be the leaning out thing that people don't want signal to their organization that they're not as serious. And that's actually not true. You can be just as serious and committed and ambitious to the job share as you could by yourself. And then secondly, I think it was a practical issue around finding the right job for you when you're job hunting. But finding the right job for you and someone else is quite challenging. And I know with job share as we speak, it is quite hard sometimes to change roles together as a job share. So, there is just one more complication in the puzzle of finding the right fit for you because your finding it for you plus someone else in that role. And I don't think that can be just brushed aside as irrelevant. It's difficult and You've got to really want it and want to make it work. But the rewards are huge. And what you're initiating is this site to help people make this happen. I think it's great and it's just the sort of thing that's needed. And hopefully technology's going to make it much easier.

Sophie Smallwood: Yeah, technology can help bridge the gap in areas that in the past were not scalable. And this is what we're looking to try and do. And this is to, in essence, replicate the success the two of you are having for more individuals who perhaps would want it. But you bring up a really good point about judgment. And I agree that this is something a lot of the individuals I have spoken with say. This is one of the blockers to any kind of flexibility at work. This perception that you're less ambitious. Though, I would argue that individuals who seek a job share arrangement are actually extremely ambitious because it's a little bit more difficult than actually just doing your job for yourself. Right. There is this additional responsibility that you have toward not yourself and the business, and you want to prove that successful, but you also have a responsibility to each other. Right. And that actually creates an extra level of work and means you have to be more meticulous than perhaps you were on your own. So, I think that everything you're doing is fantastic and we need more men to be leading figures of flexibility as well. And how can we make that happen?

Sam White: This is something we both feel very strongly about. So, I'm sure we will both have things to say on this one. Yet I find it extraordinary that there is this sort of sense that men shouldn't do it. It feels caught up in the same debate around parental leave and all of these things where it's still the case that it's predominantly women who take long periods of parental leave and come back flexibly or job share or any of these things. Something Aviva has done about a year ago was we equalized the parental leave policy between men and women. So, it's both generous and equal. So it's six months, full pay, male, female, gay, straight, adopted, natural birth, full time, part-time, whatever. Six months full pay. So, the financial penalties are removed. And at the same time, a lot of effort is put into using the internal communications vehicles like the internal websites and videos and articles and things like that for men to talk about their experiences of being dads and the time they took off with their kids. And the value that was to them. And that was kind of just a cultural barrier. So, if you remove the financial and cultural barrier, we have the experiment to see what happens. So, in the first year of that shared parental leave, seven hundred people took full six months, of which three hundred of the seven hundred were men. So, that tells you that's nearly fifty-fifty. And if you remove the financial penalties, that's the kind of outcome we've seen, which tells me that more men want to do this, than do it at the moment. I know we're talking about role sharing than shared parental leave, but I think that's always kind of the gateway into the next phase. So, you've taken your time with your kids early on, and we're finding more men coming back and saying, well, I don't want to give that up entirely. I'd like to find some way of working flexibly or job sharing or something like that. So, I think it's a move into more of that. And it's incredibly important not just for the benefit it gives to men, but for removing a sort of gender stereotype, which is a contributary factor to things like the gender pay gap. And anecdotally is a factor some people take into account when interviewing or employing people: is this a woman who's about to have kids and want to go to maternity leave and flexible working? The more it becomes an issue where a man or woman is equally likely to do that, the more that takes that burden off the table as well. So it feels to me like a huge opportunity for win-win here for men and women. Will, when he's not at Aviva and not looking after his kids, he's also chair of the Fatherhood Institute. He does a lot of work in this space.

Will McDonald: It's a voluntary role as chair of trustees of a brilliant little charity called the Fatherhood Institute, which just tries to get dads more involved with their kids. But it does so because there's a lot of evidence around the benefits of dads being involved. So, more involved dads is a scientific, robust studies that show that women will go on to earn more, that dads will be happier, they'll drink less alcohol, they'll be healthier. The kids will be healthier and happier by the age of 16. The couples are less likely to split up. There's there's a lot out there. If you look at the research about what dads say and you look at some of the younger cohorts of employees you have, a lot of companies will find that they'll need to do more. This is going to be demand-led, in order to attract talent and to retain talent and in order to get the most out of the people who work for you and get the best out of them, companies will have to offer increasingly better working terms and that we need to reflect on how people want to work in this day and age. I think we'll know when we've hit success when it's not called flexible working. But people who work Monday to Friday, nine to five, are seen as inflexible. But we're probably a little way off that yet.

Sophie Smallwood: What does it take for someone to be part of the role share arrangements? Are there certain qualities, personality traits or is it really open for anyone?

Sam White: What we found was so important to spend that time at the beginning getting a shared vision of the role. We mentioned that already in this one. But I come back to my thesis, and I don't have a way of necessarily proving that, is that it's more important than the particular character traits you have, because you can remove a lot of scope for misunderstanding or assuming the other one is in some way taken a decision you want to take or whatever by having this shared vision and then having brilliant handover's so that what I learned in my three days is transferred to Will. I'm not just talking about the kind of chunky work, stuff like this project or this briefing or whatever it is. But actually, the corridor conversations to, so I pick up something useful of the sort of stuff you just hear wandering the floors and chatting to colleagues. I make sure that stuff is passed to Will as well, so he's just on top of the culture. I don't know if this is a traits thing or whether it's just how you organize yourself thing, but shared vision and brilliant communication handovers are more important than anything.

Will McDonald: I'd add one thing which again, I'm not sure it's a trait. I have become much better at emotional intelligence. So one of our principles is no festering. So, if something's niggling me about a decision Sam's made or I don't understand the logic, or something, then just say it. Spit it out. Call it out. So, you have to be able to listen to yourself, what's bugging me. And you have to identify it. You have to say something about it. And dare I say, we men are not always, as a group, the best talking about how we feel. But I have learned that it is much better out than in. And actually, most of the time that ninety-nine-point-nine-percent of the time, if there is a misunderstanding or a slightly different analysis, and then everything falls into shape, falls into place. So, I think there is something and that goes back to Sam's point about communication. You do have to be able to communicate properly with someone, but it's not just physically exchanging knowledge. You have a relationship. We sometimes jokingly call this our work marriage. And just like a nonwork marriage, you have to work at it. It doesn't just look after itself.

Sam White: Yeah, we have date night.

Sophie Smallwood: Are there more subtle benefits to sharing a role with someone that perhaps people aren't thinking about?

Will McDonald: I find there's two bits to my story when I'm talking to people, especially men. The first one is pre-job share, essentially. So, you're trying to dispel some myths and you're trying to point out the benefits. If you're talking secondly about how it works, I think there is a point where someone starts realistically considering a job share. And I have slightly different conversations with them pre or post that moment because you're trying to win them over to a concept. And then in the second half you're trying to help them work out how it might work for them. That becomes much more personal. A bit more pragmatic. It's fascinating to hear words work. I like the idea of the micro team. There is a dynamic, within a job share, which is incredibly powerful. And it's difficult to imagine until you feel that you have a loyalty to your job partner to do a really good job, because then when you hand over, you really want to hand over progress, you want to move things along. You want to have done a great job. And I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I'm not sure I had some of that loyalty to myself, necessarily. Trying to capture some of that dynamic I think is excellent. It may well be that job share isn't the best word and we should think about changing what we call it.

Sam White: Something else that is kind of creeping up on me is a competitiveness. When Will's had a particularly good week and really nailed some stuff, I come in thinking, yeah, I need to be better this week.

Will McDonald: Healthy, competitive.

Sam White: Exactly. A healthy competitiveness. I need to raise my game this week.

Sophie Smallwood: I love that you bring this up, Sam. I recently spoke to Nestlé Waters, their head of talent, diversity, and inclusion, and she mentioned they are keen to explore shared roles at the senior level. But,one of the potential blockers is the competitive element to senior roles and whether or not two people in a competitive landscape would be happy to share a role at that level.

Will McDonald: For me, there's different types of competition. There is, generally, healthy and unhealthy competition, and if you're in a business where it's a zero-sum game and you really want to genuinely look good in front of your boss and try and make other people look bad and a meeting is a chance to do someone else over, then I guess in that context you will find a job share tough. That's bad competition. There is healthy competition which is genuinely trying to have the best ideas about how to move things forward to share them. And you do that within shared objectives, which I mean, I guess what we're doing is a team of two here is a microcosm of what the company's trying to do. We have shared objectives. We try and get together a shared vision. We work out the best way to do it, and we crack on with it to that as well.

Sam White: We have in our principles I mentioned earlier on, we tried to take out any sort of negative competitiveness. So, we have in their principal around we win together, we lose together, so we don't rush to take credit for something because we happen to be in on the right day of the week. We share the credit and we take equal responsibility, if something goes wrong, that it's not down to one person. It's we in this role have not delivered that, which obviously never happens. But we in this role have absolutely knocked it out of the park, which happens very often. But I could see that being a possibility of unhealthy competition between us to take credit and avoid blame if we haven't got ourselves into a virtuous circle of that principle being articulated and then lived. So, I can see that being a risk. I can always say invest the time up front, get the right set of principles, and live them and communicate and you'll be in good shape.

Will McDonald: And the job you're going to do if you end up in a negative spiral because it is a collaborative dynamic. If you're both genuinely in it to make it work and make it brilliant, keep that as your guiding principle and it will work.

Sophie Smallwood: And that was Will McDonald and Sam White sharing the role of group sustainability and public policy director at Aviva. The way any one micro team approaches how they split the role is unique to their shared vision and objectives. One common word among all successful shared roles seems to be onus. Doing a shared role takes dedication and a deep desire to have both balance and career growth. Being a united front takes commitment. Forward-thinking companies, give it a go. Pilot shared roles. Seems like a small investment to drive loyalty and retain committed talent. I'm Sophie Smallwood, co-founder of Roleshare.com. Thanks for listening and join us for the next episode of Talk with Roleshare.

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