These Men Sharing a Role Has Opened Doors for Everyone Around Them.

These Men Sharing a Role Has Opened Doors for Everyone Around Them.

"We’ve delivered some huge projects and run multiple teams as a job share, and the feedback so far is positive."
- Will McDonald and Sam White, Group Sustainability and Public Policy Director, Aviva plc

Will McDonald and Sam White have been sharing the role of Group Sustainability and Public Policy Director at Aviva plc for over 3 years.

What has sharing a role helped enabled in your personal life and at work?

Will - Genuine choice and surfacing compromises (in a good way).
Sam - More time with the family and really equal marriage at home.

What has it brought to your greater team, manager, organization, stakeholders?

The job share has many benefits, including two minds for the price of one, around flexibility and cover, decision making and so on. We did a survey of our teams and stakeholders as we wanted to know what it was like for others to deal with us (we know we value the job share already!). The results were really, really positive. It’s also helped create a space for people across the organization to suggest new ways of working for them, including other job share.

What has it done for your performance at work and how does it compare to previous roles you’ve had?

The key dynamic of a job share is that you want to do a great job not just for you and the organization and its customers, but for your job share partner as well. So it sets a high bar. We’ve delivered some huge projects and run multiple teams as a job share, and the feedback so far is positive.

How did you secure and set up your job share?

We had both worked at Aviva in the same team for a while, and between us had 5 young children in that time. We were both looking to spend time raising our kids but stay ambitious at work. Once that honest conversation happened, it was pretty quick to set up the job share as a solution. Our boss Kirsty Cooper was incredibly supportive and we made a good case – speaking to lots of existing job sharers, drawing up a formal "ways of working" document and committing to a trial period.

What do you do to make your roleshare successful? 

A jobshare does demand a certain amount of rigour, and it needs attention, just like a marriage. We always say you don’t need to like each other (although we do!) but you do need to trust each other. Our principles for working are short but very clear – points like "when in charge, take charge," and what decisions require both sign offs (very few, like recruitment and large budget spend). The handover note is key on a day-to-day level – we have different sections like "urgent action," "action," "corridor gossip" and so on.

How do you handle your personal growth?

We have not lost any ambition and are very open with each other about where any development might differ, or be something we aim for together. And outside of work on days where you aren’t working, the priority is to not look at your email as you would interfere with your partner’s working days. That is a separation and clarity that you can't get from working part-time on your own, and the huge benefit that follows is that you can focus 100% on life outside work – like looking after your children – knowing that the work is being knocked out of the park by your partner.

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