The Real Benefits of a VP Roleshare at Unilever

The Real Benefits of a VP Roleshare at Unilever

Industry: Commerce
Interesting to: Employers & Candidates

E6 S2 - Talk Roleshare Podcast

Unilever has achieved 50/50 gender balance in their leadership roles and their openness to shared roles certainly contributes to that. Dr. Shelagh Muir and Jane Maciver share the role of VP Research and Development at Unilever - this is the second role they’re sharing there. Hear first hand why they chose this roleshare working model, how they secured it, and how they succeed in it. Learn why success is about the individuals and the role design, rather than the role itself. Any doubts you have about leaders sharing a role might just “poof” dissipate… . Note: Photo retouched by Roleshare. 

Episode Transcript

Sophie Smallwood: Hey, this is Talk with Roleshare, I'm Sophie Smallwood, co-founder of Unilever has achieved a 50:50 gender balance in their leadership roles and their openness to shared roles must certainly contribute to that. Dr. Shelagh Muir and Jane Maciver have shared two roles together at Unilever. Today, they share the role of VP Research and Development. Hear why they chose this working model, how they secured it and how they succeed in it every day. People who are unfamiliar with job sharing often think it's limited to certain roles. Learn why Shelagh and Jane say it's actually about the individuals, not the role. Unsure about leaders sharing a role? Shelagh and Jane may very well change your mind.

Jane Maciver: So Shelagh and I have been role sharing for almost four years now, and we role share as the Vice President of Research and Development, looking after strategy and operations in Unilever. So we report to our chief R&D officer and we've got responsibility for defining and driving the delivery of strategy for R&D, looking at what the future for R&D should be, connecting with the outside world to understand what's new in R&D and how we bring that into the organization. We also support performance management and really driving the performance and output of R&D and we sit on our R&D leadership team and interface across the whole organization. This is our second role as a job share. We actually started job sharing in one of our category R&D roles looking after our oral care category. So toothpaste, toothbrushes, things like that. We're four years into the role share now.

Sophie Smallwood: Just out of curiosity, how large is the organization that you look after as far as individuals that report in to you?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: In our current job, our strategy and operations job it's relatively small, actually. We've probably got around about 15 individuals. In our oral care role, which was our previous role, that was much larger, where we had nine direct reports at director level.

Sophie Smallwood: Why did you get into this particular type of working arrangement?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Jane and I work together not as a job share, but worked together in our oral care business. So I was responsible for R&D, for our oral care business, and Jane was responsible for supply chain. So we sat on the same executive team, which was the oral care executive team, and we were used to working together and because both R&D and supply chain are technical functions, we were also very, very used to making sure that we were aligned before meetings, that we were aware what was going on in each of those areas, because ultimately when you put R&D and supply chain together you represent the technical function in its entirety. So we were used to working together. We were used to being aligned before meetings and it kind of grew from there. I think in all honesty, one day we came out of a very long meeting. We went to have a drink somewhere and I don't know what we were talking about. We were talking about kids and how busy it was and then one or other of us said, you know what? We could almost be doing the same job.

Sophie Smallwood: Right.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: And then we both kind of looked at each other and went actually, you know what? Maybe we could.

Jane Maciver: It was quite organic in that sense because we often shared the challenges of wanting to have a challenging role and an exciting career, but also having passions outside of work that you also want to invest some time in. Looking forward, particularly for me, I was at a little bit of a crossroads in my career and had to make some decisions about what I wanted to do next. And I always felt that tension between the real desire to have a big challenging role, an equal desire to also do things outside of work and struggling as to how I could reconcile them. And I've been in 19 years and at least half of that I've worked something other than full-time. So when I worked part-time in the past, I've worked full-time, I've always had a great experience of flexible working. But this was my first foray into what a job share could be like. But I think once this idea had sunk in with both of us, we got quite excited about what it could actually mean and how it's quite different to a part-time job, particularly at the senior level.

Sophie Smallwood: Yeah, absolutely. So you had this epiphany, in essence together. And how did you make it happen at that point?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: We did spend a few months, probably three or four months, actually just bouncing it backwards and forwards between ourselves. We didn't tell anyone else, obviously our families. But from a work perspective, we didn't mention it to anyone else and we just bounced it backwards and forwards. We did some reading. We were fortunate to know a couple of people within Unilever that also job shared. So we went to talk to them about their experience and essentially what we did in those three to four months, which I think is an incredibly important thing for anyone considering a job share is built a business case. And we built a business case and a justification as to why doing this role in a job share with Jane and I would bring a real business benefit. And then once we'd done that, we took it to our boss and essentially took him through the business case. And we always started with what's the benefit to the business?

Sophie Smallwood: Right. So you built the case, and what I like to say oftentimes is WIIFT, which is what's in it for them, right. So you've got this particular desire and then you build a case as to how it will benefit them. And I'd love to hear what was your boss's reaction at the time when you presented this?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Well, he was incredibly positive, which was fantastic. He was the biggest supporter and his reaction was he listened quietly as we went through this business case and at the end of it he said, 'Right, you've convinced me'. He said, 'you don't need to convince me now as to why it brings benefit. What you need to convince me and what you need to talk to me about is how will it actually work in practice?'

Jane Maciver: I think we prepared so much for the positive argument and it was actually very refreshing to not have it challenged. He was completely supportive. I think it helped that Shelagh was already working for him at the time because we went to job share what was Shelagh's role. But he already knew me, knew me from my supply chain role. So in a way, he could see in front of him the two people that he would have job sharing in his team and we were both known to him and he already knew our strengths as well and could see the value. So that part, it wasn't a lot of convincing as Shelagh said, it was then quite quickly into the practicalities because in that role, we business partnered one of our marketing executive vice presidents so her comfort with us doing a job share was also going to be really important as much as our actual direct line manager.

Sophie Smallwood: Right. So you had a number of different stakeholders, obviously your manager and some of the other important allies within your your day to day work. Was there anybody else as part of the stakeholders that you needed to get approval from?

Jane Maciver: So I think not so much approval, but there was lots of other stakeholders that we sought input and guidance from, and actually, the head of our oral care business who we business partnered was a fantastic support. It turns out actually early in her career, she considered job sharing and so was already very supportive of the concept. And she actually gave us a lot of input in terms of coaching and how to make the job share really work. And then obviously there was H.R. support. I was managing the stakeholders and supply chain because I was actually, in essence, leaving that function and moving to R&D. But I think universally we got support and we used that network to help us start off with the best starting position that we could.

Sophie Smallwood: Right, a very strong foundation. But right now, I'd love to get your thoughts on what you think it takes and what should be considered to enable a successful job share or role share at the senior level?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: I think it's a combination of two things probably the most important thing is the two individuals, their values and their behaviors. The most important thing. And then I think a second aspect is also ensuring that you've got the correct role design, so the role is right for it and the design and the setup of the role is right. So I think both of those things, it's key to have. And I think just stepping back from it, job sharing is not an easy option. It isn't an easy option, you really do need to be very dedicated, when either of us is working, we work very long days and we need to be flexible enough to even when you're not working, on a non-working day, I will always text Jane if I need to know something or I want to talk to her about something and vice versa. So you need to have that flexibility. I would say. For me, the most important thing is about the individuals, the behaviors, and the values of those individuals. And then the second thing is making sure that you've really got a role and designed and set up that role such that it's amenable to being job shared.

Jane Maciver: And I think to the to the question you asked actually about the 'what's in it for me' or 'what's in it for us', the business benefit and being really clear where it brings value at a senior level. I think as we built our case, that was one of the things we were quite clear about as obviously we both spent a number of years in the company, we've had a diverse range of experiences. And actually when you put us together, you're getting 30 odd years of experience across the whole spectrum from early stage research and development right through to the factories and manufacturing. And you're getting that in one person and therefore our ability to lead, our ability to have insights and networks that we can utilize across the company. I think that business case and making it really clear what the value is that the company gets from us job sharing at a senior level was actually very, very powerful. And I think that's where, in many ways, a role share at this level can be even more powerful than people might imagine because you have such a wealth of experience and different perspectives and different skillsets that you can bring to bear in a role that requires it at that level.

Sophie Smallwood: Absolutely, sort of the synergized, co-individual, in essence, with all the years of experience. And one thing you mentioned, which I think is absolutely true, is it's not an easy arrangement. And actually, I've always said that people who choose job sharing as an option are actually extremely ambitious and they're ambitious in all aspects of their lives at work and outside of work. Right. Because as you said, there is sort of this trickiness of having two people, making sure you have this ultimate communication together. As part of the research that we did, we interviewed a lot of successful job sharers, but we also interviewed individuals who didn't have successful job shares because it's important to hear both sides of the coin. So from your perspective, what do you think puts a role share team at risk of failing together?

Jane Maciver: It's a tricky one because every partnership will be different and every rule will be different. But I think if you don't have that fundamental foundation of trust and the relationship and that you're both all in it for the job share rather than in it for yourself, then I think that's where the cracks could potentially appear. If you've not established that foundation, that relationship to begin with, then I think every little challenge or difficult task that you hit as a job share partnership, it becomes harder to do if you've not invested the time in the relationship up front. And you can't just put any two people together and imagine that they can just job share. I think there's certain factors that make people more able to connect and bring value as a job share partnership. I think the trust, the honesty, the transparency, really being the premises to the job share, rather than a individualistic view of it, I think that's where things could potentially start to come unstuck.

Sophie Smallwood: Right. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you mentioned earlier, Shelagh, behavior's, and Jane, you talk about trust and factors. I think all of those things kind of are one and the same. So what are some of the behaviours and factors you think that might be sort of across the board things you want to look for in individuals who look to share a role?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: There's a few I think the ability to be flexible is one, particularly at a senior level, you do need to be flexible. There are times if there's a sickness or holiday absence or a big meeting or whatever, you need that flexibility. So I think there's a flexibility part. I think both individuals need to be highly motivated, because, as I said before, it's all jobs at senior levels are tough. It's no different being in a job share and this real drive for performance for results, that's got to be present in both individuals. And then I think there's another side of it as well, which for me is really important, which is about collaboration. And I can't remember, someone said to me, and it's always stuck with me, you need two people that are solvers, not blamers. And your natural way of working is a collaborative style. I think that's really important for a successful job share. I guess the only other thing actually that I would mention as well is and it's something that we've had asked of us a few times, which is about, you both in the job share need to be able to make decisions quickly because at senior levels, being able to quickly gauge a situation and make a decision based on it and move on, is really important. So you need to, as individuals, but also as a way of working in a job share make sure you got the system in place where decisions are made quickly.

Sophie Smallwood: Absolutely.

Jane Maciver: I think what we found, I think that benefits the company but certainly benefits us as individuals is the fact that we are quite different. We have different experiences. We have different styles. And it almost feels like you're constantly in a brainstorming situation or a coaching situation where we often have different ideas about things but then you get into a 'yes, and' conversation and your ideas build on each others. So I think having differences in terms of your style and experience can actually be very valuable. And we very consciously haven't tried to become a vanilla version of our job share avatar. We are very consciously different people, but we have a very aligned set of values and therefore when one of us makes a decision, we would both have made the same decision even if we get there with different thoughts and different input. So I think that complementary skillset adds a lot of value to our job share.

Sophie Smallwood: Absolutely. You mentioned values and it's something I've heard also from other job sharers, but it's quite a broad term. So when you think about values, what kind of values do you think are important that you share in any job share? Is it your way of working? You know, sort of. It's quite a broad term.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: For me, it's a more fundamental thing because you couldn't get two people with more different ways of working than Jane and myself. For me, it's much more fundamental when we talk about values it's real core values like trust, its core values, like the appreciation of hard work. I think you absolutely need to hold those same core set of values.

Sophie Smallwood: Got it. Do you think there needs to be a core motivation to share a role? So you mentioned you both had passions outside of work, in addition, to obviously, your aspirations for an ambitious career, do you think it's important to have genuine motivations before entering into a job share? And the reason why I ask this, I'll backtrack, is that I've heard of instances where individuals have shared roles. One person really had a genuine motivation, had this true need for flexibility outside of work, whereas another person just saw it as an opportunity to get a really interesting, high achieving role. So the motivations are not aligned and that created some tension. So what are your thoughts on motivation typically?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: I think that's a really, really insightful question. And it's one that Jane and I were very conscious of early on when we started job sharing. And actually, we spent, remember Jane, we spent a day with a professional coach going through exactly that point, which was really being very honest and open about our motivations for doing the job share. Because if you're not aligned, they don't have to be the same motivation but if you're not aware of the other person's motivations I think that could potentially cause some issues down the line. So I think it is worth investing the time early on to really make sure that you both, I learned a lot about myself during that coaching lesson as well actually, my own motivations, being able to articulate them.

Jane Maciver: Yeah, I fully agree. And I think the point you make there about learning about yourself, because I think my typical style is never to have really had a plan. I kind of just seize opportunities. And I think taking the time to really understand why this really is the best opportunity for me, also taught me about myself. I think to the values thing, one of the things we've always had over the last four years is an unsaid ability to raise if either of us are unhappy for any reason or, we've always said if at any point, now or in the future, one or other of us decides actually we want a different path. I think we feel we've got the ability to completely be honest and open about that without prejudice of what it means potentially for the other person. And I think that's important because four years in and I think we've had a fantastic experience and are fully committed to this being the way that we work together and for the foreseeable future. But I think other people may want to do it for a short period of time. They may want to do something else. And I think you've got to have that ability to know that you can speak freely and actually say if you want to take a different path. And those first few months, I think we we both felt that at any point, if we changed our mind or if it didn't feel right, we could say so and we did do a trial period at the start even in the job share so that we could both be sure that it was matching our motivations and that it did really deliver what we each wanted out of it and that it was working for the business.

Sophie Smallwood: And was that part of your business case? We'll get into a little bit more detail if that's possible after. But did you present it as a pilot initially sort of subject to review and then to extend it?

Jane Maciver: Yeah, and I think that worked for everybody because it gave us the chance to see what it's like, because on paper, it's one thing, doing it in real life can be quite different. We were fortunate. It was everything we hoped it would be, but also gives our boss and the wider business, the opportunity to see it and practice and understand how it works. And again, we were all completely open and transparent through that period.

Sophie Smallwood: Right. You mentioned earlier that having a senior role is obviously very difficult and that doing it in a job share doesn't necessarily make it any easier. But do you think that there are unique benefits to doing a senior role share together in a difficult role?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Yeah, I think for me one of the biggest benefits is this, I know it's a kind of cliche almost when it comes to job sharing, but these two brains on one challenge point is really, really powerful. And it is like having a trusted peer with you all the time that you can bounce things off, that you can think things through with and I find that incredibly powerful. And I do genuinely believe it brings a real business benefit in terms of the quality of the solution.

Jane Maciver: I completely agree. I think we can challenge each other's thinking in a way that an individual in this role would never do. When you're in this kind of senior role as one person, then, of course, you're part of teams and you have your own team and it's quite different to have, as Shelagh said, that always on coaching or being able to bounce ideas off. And often when we've had a prickly challenge to overcome, we will lock ourselves away with a flip chart and a pen and suddenly by the end of a few hours, we've achieved more than one of us alone would have been able to do because we complement and challenge each other's thinking. And I think that's really important in senior roles.

Sophie Smallwood: Absolutely. I used to work at Workplace by Facebook and we would launch the solution inside of large organizations. And part of what I noticed was that the more senior you become in an organization, it sometimes feels like almost a little bit lonely because the higher up you go, the more alone you are, I suppose for the peers that you have. And then everyone kind of wants something from you in essence. So I would imagine it's quite nice being senior and having almost, I would say, a buddy with you all the way. That's a unique benefit to sharing a role I would imagine.

Jane Maciver: Absolutely. And I think we do. It might sound a bit twee to say that we have fun, but we do. And if you've come out of a stressful meeting or a couple of weeks of really intense work, it's like having your best mates to have a chat to about it at the same time as someone that you work with. And I think that is an important value for us as individuals, is having someone to download to share with and to have those kind of conversations that sometimes you have no one to have with and your husbands or your friends get kind of fed up listening to you when you go home at the end of the day.

Sophie Smallwood: Right. Exactly. Yeah. It all drives back to well-being, I would imagine, as well. So do you think it would benefit more companies to come to go to a position of opening up normal full-time roles to job share applicants?

Jane Maciver: I think what will benefit companies is just more generally approaching the future of how people work and seeing different opportunities that we don't have to have this binary full-time, part-time thing, and that there can be flexibility in how people choose to have a career in the future. And certainly job share should be part of that. And I think there's many opportunities where job share is the right solution and can be the right solution. And I think what we've said earlier, it's almost more dependent on the individuals than the role. So I think it's about opening up job sharing as an opportunity to individuals as much as specific jobs. But I think it needs to be broader, even just than job share. I think it's about a whole re-think of what the future of work is like and being flexible and adaptable to different Kebir designs, to what historically has been quite a binary approach.

Sophie Smallwood: Often get questions from H.R., finance practitioners about how they would set up a role share within their organization, alongside their internal management models. I mean, I'd love to get your insight if you could share with our audience on some of the operational bits behind how your particular job share came about. So maybe we start a bit with your business case and how you split the role together.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Yeah, Jane and I do a full job share so we share every single aspect of the job. We don't do a job split or a hybrid model where we're kind of one person is responsible for one part and the other person is responsible for the other. So the way that we do this role and the role that we did previously is as a full job share. We're contracted to work three days a week and then one of those days is the day where we both work and hand over. And so that's from a operational point of view, if you like.

Sophie Smallwood: Right.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: And then the other parts that we've also, as we've gone along and kind of put in place to make sure that the job share works as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. So things like having the joint Office 365 account, things like that.

Jane Maciver: And I think actually the sort of mechanics of the job share like, which days we work and how it's set up contractually and things were actually fairly straightforward. Probably our biggest challenge was IT systems that don't yet know how to adopt the fact that two people might want to access the same thing at once. So we ended up investing as much time in setting up our combined IT infrastructure as we did, working out how to set up a contract for a job share. So I think nothing's more or less difficult than you let it be. It was actually not too difficult at all and we do very consciously as part of the being all in for the job share. We have the same targets each year. We have our end-of-year performance discussions together. We feel we share the role and therefore the outcome and the performance value against the role is evaluated as a job share partnership, not as individuals.

Sophie Smallwood: If you think about it, most people's careers is one of the major pillars of life. And so you would imagine that your role share partner would be a very important relationship, almost like a work marriage of sorts. So how do you make yours work? You mentioned earlier trust and having behaviours and values that are aligned. And you touched a little bit on your cadence of work. You have a crossover day that you use Office 365. Are there any other things that you do together that you feel make it work?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: We have a very elegant solution to, we call it our back-office because we were very conscious when we came into the job share that we wanted to share the whole thing. So we set out two principles, one of the principles was that whoever interacted with us, whether it was a team member, whether it was an external client, whether it was a stakeholder, they should genuinely feel like they were talking to one person. So they could talk to Jane one time and then if they happened to talk to me another time, I would know exactly the conversation that had happened, the decisions that had been taken, and they didn't feel the need to have to re-explain or re-go over a decision. So in order to make that work, Jane and I spent a lot of time setting up and refining what we call our back-office, and having a good knowledge of IT systems and how they can help you set up a back-office is essential. So we've learned things about Microsoft Outlook and how you can use like task functionality and organize your emails that neither of us thought were possible before we started. So seriously, taking the time to invest in figuring out a system that works for you, that allows you with the minimum effort, but the maximum accuracy and efficiency to keep each other updated is really important.

Jane Maciver: Yeah and I think investing in that time upfront to set it up, has meant that when we do spend time together, the actual time we have to spend explaining things to each other is relatively small. We use the time together to often work through a challenge or a tricky situation or put our brains together. We don't spend a day literally handing over because that wouldn't be an efficient use of our time. So the handing over part is done with this back-office that we've got running quite efficiently and then we can use our time together to actually work through some of those challenges. I joke and say I've got the tidiest inbox I've ever had in my career, but that's part of my commitment to Shelagh is to make sure that when I go off and she comes on, I've done a really good job of handing over to her in an effective and efficient way. So actually we put more effort into that than perhaps other people do.

Sophie Smallwood: Absolutely.

Jane Maciver: We're very conscious of making sure that we appear seamless to other people. And actually, I'm sure we've all had experiences where you can talk to the same person one week and talk to them the next week and they've changed their mind about. So you get a different message. Actually, that doesn't happen because we're very conscious of making sure that we are really aligned with each other and put a lot of thought into it.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Our team were brilliant in the beginning, the team that work for us were really, really helpful in the beginning when we started the job share because you're learning when you start a job share and there's no way in the world that we were going to have an efficient, seamless handover right from the word go. So we were very open with our team and explained to them, this is how we want it to work. But we genuinely sought their input and we really asked them, when you do see it not working can you let us know because it's only by understanding it from another perspective that you know that it's actually what you set out to achieve, which is a seamless job share is actually being seen as seamless by the people that are interacting with it. So we've always tried to be very open and ask for help and ask people to let us know when they see it working and also when they don't see it working. And that's the way that you learn.

Jane Maciver: Yeah, I think that feedback's been really, really important. I think the other thing we do that I think has been valuable is invest some time at least a couple of times a year with a coach and we have a session together. And that just gives us a chance to stop and reflect a little bit and work through challenges, both individually and as a job share, and I think continuing that investment in the job share as an entity and that we work through that together and we take the time to pause and reflect is really valuable.

Sophie Smallwood: Absolutely, what you said about seamless, is something that I heard another very successful job share senior team do at Aviva. And their motto was to be seamless from the outside. You have your own operation in the background that makes it seem seamless. But and then this all goes back to what you said earlier about being flexible. Right? So if you're flexible, then you're open to feedback. So everything's sort of tying in nicely. It all is coming to paint a very clear picture of what it takes. So you mentioned earlier on in the conversation that you need to be able to make decisions quickly, so when you're both in the role on your allocated days and you need to make a decision quickly, are you in a position to be able to make that decision or do you run it by each other? How does that work from a senior role perspective?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Depends on the decision. If it's a relatively routine thing and it just needs a, then then you just go ahead. And of course, I totally trust that Jane will make the right decision and she totally trusts that I will make the right decision. If it's a really big thing and it's got quite a significant impact, I'll often just give Jane a quick ring and say, Jane, what do you think? I'm thinking this. Well, a five minute chat while she walked down the beach or whatever and then we'll go ahead.

Jane Maciver: Yeah. And I think we do that not because there's some kind of unwritten rule that we have to check decisions. It's not about checking. It's about the sounding board, it's about the value of having another person's perspective on what you're thinking and what you're planning to do. So when we connect, which we do very often, it's actually to use each other as a sounding board rather than to sort of seek permission for a decision, we definitely don't need to do that.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: It's quite rare that Jane will take a decision that I then come in and think, oh, I wouldn't have made that decision. I can't really think of that many times that that's happened. And if it does happen, then one of the fundamental tenants of a successful job share is you don't question the other person.

Jane Maciver: And you never contradict anything that has been done.

Sophie Smallwood: Why did you make the decision to go the sort of traditional job share route where you are, in essence, seamless from the outside?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: I think part of it was the role that we were job sharing. I think once you get to, particularly at this kind of level of seniority, it's actually quite difficult to segment the role because everything's interconnected. And I think we looked long and hard at the role and said actually the most efficient way to do this and the way to do it that's going to bring the most value to the business would be to genuinely share all aspects of it.

Jane Maciver: Yeah, and I think also, there are things or things that come up in our work program that may play to one or other of our strengths differently. And therefore, that's where we will use each other. If something comes up that's maybe very relevant for Shelagh's experience, less so mine or vice versa, we tap into each other's experience and therefore we are always learning a little bit as well. And that's not a reason to separate work. And one person do more or less of a particular type of work or a particular task. It's a great opportunity for us to learn from each other and use each other's different strengths and experiences.

Sophie Smallwood: So you said at the moment you have 15 direct reports, and do they all report into the two of you or do you both split off a responsibility on certain team members?

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Just as a point of clarification, in our current role we don't have 15 direct reports, we have 15 in the team. But in terms of the team and people that report directly into us, we did make a conscious decision at the beginning that we would both be there for all members of the team on all aspects. Let's take an example, when we do a performance assessment, for instance, we both try and ensure that we're there for that performance assessment or at the very least, we've had a good conversation about it beforehand and we have come with one view.

Jane Maciver: But again, to the point of flexibility, I think when we had the larger direct report team in our previous role, if someone in our team had a particular coaching need or a challenge they wanted to work through, and they felt that one or other of us was better suited to help them solve that challenge, then that's completely fine. That was no kind of, you must talk to me one week, Shelagh the next week we've got to have equal share of voice. None of that. We were completely flexible also to the needs of the team. And where they could get the most out of us might be that in a certain situation, the advice of Shelagh, is much more relevant to the particular challenge and then next time, maybe it might be my experience. So we also let our team feel able to use us as a partnership, also use us individually for their personal development, if that works better for them. It's again, it's the flexibility.

Sophie Smallwood: It's a wonderful benefit. Yeah. A great benefit for them. Lastly, how would you complete the sentence. I'd love to hear from both of you. So we'll start with with Jane. Sharing a role at a senior level is.

Jane Maciver: It's the best career choice I have ever made and it's something I can't imagine not doing in the future.

Sophie Smallwood: Goosebumps, I'm getting over here. Shelagh, you're going to have to top that one. Sharing a role at senior level is.

Dr. Shelagh Muir: Great fun and rewarding.

Sophie Smallwood: And that was Dr. Shelagh Muir and Jane McIvor sharing the role of VP Research and Development at Unilever. So when thinking about sharing a role, think carefully about your motivation. Are you a highly motivated, responsible collaborator and problem solver who embraces different working styles and who is trustworthy and flexible? Then sharing a role could be for you. You'll want to present the value proposition and benefits to the business and how it will work in practice. The team setup and role design. Check out our toolkit on to help you with your role share plan. Thanks for listening and join us for the next episode of Talk Roleshare.

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