"I’ve always been my biggest critic and the self-doubt has been debilitating at times; not always trusting my instincts. Having someone by your side to bounce ideas off, sense check, and sometimes just debate with is so valuable." - Camilla Rigby and Rachel Mostyn, co-founder and co-CEO, the Women’s Work Lab CIC
Camilla Rigby and Rachel Mostyn, share the role of co-founder and co-ceo of the Women’s Work Lab CIC - which aims to support socially disadvantaged mothers, with little to no work experience, to find a career that works for them and their family. Having faced their own challenges as working mothers, together they help now each other and other mothers.
How has sharing a role helped enabled in your personal life and at work?
Camilla - I spent the biggest part of my career being employed by some well-known brands and having tried to juggle young children and career, in 2016 I had to admit defeat and take a step back. I had a couple of years of discontent; trying different things but not being able to find my joy.
I first met Rachel in 2017 and around that time I faced a fair few personal challenges: my dad passing, my youngest being diagnosed with autism and most recently my own ADHD diagnosis. Rachel has been a continuous rock throughout, and I can hand on heart say I wouldn’t be where I am now without her. I also feel happy and fulfilled for the first time.
Rachel - Starting your own business is a massive step and knowing that there is someone by your side sharing that journey is both hugely motivating and also gives you a real sense of security too. It's a cliche to say “team work makes the dream work” but it's also very true in our case! On a practical level that means when the chips are down, we always have each other to figure out the best way through. I think it enables us to be braver in the decisions we make but also provides focus like no other. Ultimately, we are just really good for each other.
From a personal perspective, we both have kids and we just get that life throws curve balls, but we are always there for each other to pick up the slack if needed. I genuinely don't think we could have grown the Women's Work Lab over the last year to the extent we have without having each other.
What has it brought to your greater team, manager, organization, stakeholders?
We feel that together we’re bringing a huge amount to the Women’s Work Lab – to our team and also the Mums we support. Whilst on paper we’re fairly similar in that we’ve both worked in communications, we’re actually quite different personalities.
My (Camilla) sometimes chaotic energy helps to kick things off and push us forwards with Rachel bringing a much-needed layer of calm, rationality and common sense! Rachel also helps to maintain our focus and is really brilliant at remaining upbeat when we face inevitable challenges.
We both have a very dry sense of humour, which is extremely important! Having launched just before the pandemic kicked off, our complementary personalities, skills set and humour has enabled us to not only survive, but actively thrive! Our passion is often infectious and it's just really exciting to see so many organisations keen to support the work we do.
What has it done for your performance at work and how does it compare to previous roles you’ve had?
Camilla – for me, working alongside Rachel brings out the best in me. I’ve always been my biggest critic and the self-doubt has been debilitating at times; not always trusting my instincts. Having someone by your side to bounce ideas off, sense check and sometimes just debate with is so valuable. I admire, trust and respect Rachel so much and as such, I value her opinion.
Rachel - It gives me so much energy! We have quite different personalities and we really do bring the best out in each other. Camilla has brilliant ideas and it's hugely motivating and exciting when we both tackle a new project with such passion.
We also find that of course there are times when one of us is struggling but somehow, we get through those times as the other one becomes a listening ear. There have been plenty of times when we are both positive, others when one of us is struggling but rarely if ever when both of us feel low. It's like we intuitively know what the other needs to keep us driving forward.
How did you secure and set up your job share?
I wooed Rachel for about a year before she agreed to do something with me! Initially we didn’t know what we’d like to do, we just knew that it would be something for women who would benefit the most from a leg-up. It took a couple of months of back and forth and then another whole year of deep research and development before we launched the Women’s Work Lab in late 2019.
Having worked together for just over a year by the time of launch, we both agreed that if the Women’s Work Lab didn’t work out, we’d try and find a comms roleshare instead. As we loved working together!
What do you do to make your roleshare successful?
Lockdown #3 has actually been a weird blessing in terms of us being more disciplined about our roleshare and making sure we don’t double up on everything! We have largely been working in a way that reflects our individual childcare set ups; I do the morning when my youngest is in school (he has an EHCP), and Rachel will do the afternoons once she’s finished home-schooling her youngest.
When speaking to new employers or referral partners, we will both tend to join, as we know it’s important for them to meet us both and vice versa. Then once someone is on board, we will divvy things up so that they have a primary contact. We ask that where possible we’re both emailed, in case it’s urgent, but otherwise we’re clear on who ‘owns’ who.
And then with more of the business administration that comes with a startup, again we divide and conquer in terms of “buckets”. Rachel has landed up with the governance elements (safeguarding, GDPR etc.), whereas I have had to quickly get up to speed with Quickbooks and manage our financial affairs. Thankfully we’ve got one of our graduates joining us very soon as Team Administrator and she’s a bookkeeper, which will be A-MAZING!
Our Head of Learning Sally is also about to come on board and we’re looking forward to this next stage of our growth. As we establish our team, we will need to get much better at communicating more broadly; keeping them motivated and in the loop, vs simply batting things between us.
How do you handle your personal growth?
A tricky one! We haven’t really put a huge amount of focus on ourselves, preferring instead to look outwards to the Mums we support and also growing our team with other brilliant Mums. When reflecting on how much we have learnt, grown and developed in the year since our launch, we both feel exceptionally proud. We’ve learnt a huge amount about starting a social enterprise, we have managed to navigate a global pandemic in our first year and we’ve secured funding in 2021 to launch in a new city (Bath) and support four times as many Mums. Looking ahead, we’re planning to expand further within the South West and are aiming to create more stability and sustainability in our funding model, which will mean can grow our team further.
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