There are times when we all find ourselves juggling our work-life balance. Bella Bassindale, Senior Manager in Assurance at Ernst & Young LLP (EY UK), shares her perspective of the importance of communication and flexibility as a working parent.
Bella embarked on her journey at EY UK as a Bristol-based graduate in 2011. Following her promotion to Assistant Manager, she relocated to Hull for a few years, before returning to the Bristol office to take up her current role as an Audit Senior Manager.
Bella’s work spans across multiple sectors, including broadcasting, engineering, hospitality and utilities. In addition to her day-to-day audit work, coaching and mentoring the team is a key aspect of her role. She says: “I find it hugely rewarding to invest time in developing our people and supporting them to reach their goals.”
Bella’s busy season occurs in two phases: firstly January, focusing on the aerospace and defence industry, and then from late April to early July, focusing on the utilities industry. While it can be intense, especially nearing the deadline, a supportive work environment ensures that people can work effectively and cohesively as a team.
“At the beginning of the engagement I focus on coaching the team and making sure the work is progressing well,” she explains. “I answer questions as we go along, so problems can be solved iteratively during the preparation of the work.”
Bella spends time talking to the client and, where needed, holding them to account so they can deliver support and data the team needs. Bella’s busiest time is about halfway through the engagement when she begins to review the work and manage Partner reviews. “I have had some of my best days at work during busy seasons over the years,” she says. “You bond as a team, and it can be quite fun all working together pushing to get the job done. The hours can be long, and that is hard, but the sense of accomplishment at the end is great.”
While the intensity of work can elevate during the busy season, Bella doesn’t believe it affects the team dynamics negatively. “In my experience, when you spend a lot of time with the team it is often a good thing. It tends to strengthen relationships and build great team rapport,” she says. “Working with people all day to deliver an audit, including sitting together and relaxing over lunch, sets a solid foundation for friendship and trust, which is really important in what we do.”
Communicating effectively, and planning appropriately, is how Bella says she ensures a balance between her workload and her well-being.
Top tip: Planning and communicating consistently with your team is important, but equally so is taking a break.
Life as a working parent
Bella pinpoints the transition to being a working parent as a significant moment in her career. “Suddenly working longer hours until the job was finished was not an option, so I have had to learn to work differently so that I can do both to the best of my ability,” she says.
Maintaining a career while being a working parent requires meticulous planning and organisation. Bella has a flexible contract which allows her to balance time with her family and work. During busy season she ups her days from four to five to get through the work in the tight timescales, but she is then able to take that time back later in the year. “This works well for my portfolio, the timings of my deadlines, and allows me to be there for my children during school holidays without relying on annual leave,” explains Bella. “I have had amazing support in this transition from all my colleagues and especially my careers counsellor. I have built a plan around my children and my portfolio, and I feel trusted and supported to deliver that. I love the fact that I can be a mother without having to compromise my career aspirations.”
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