Rowan Morrison: Business Maven, Working Mum, and the art of navigating career and motherhood

Business owner, entrepreneur and working mum of two, Rowan Morrison, has had a vibrant career across writing, publishing and consulting. She is now the co-founder and MD of Rationale, a strategic brand and communications agency, with offices in London, Edinburgh, and New York. She also wrote a column called ‘Toddling in Heels’ about balancing life as a business owner and a mother. That’s no mean feat!

Rowan Morrison portrait

Rowan’s thoughts on how motherhood has affected her career have been compiled from her recent interview with Gee Foottit on The Switch, a podcast series hosted by the St James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy.

The Switch has been designed to help people from all backgrounds make the leap from one career to another – often from hugely unexpected backgrounds – whether they are just starting out, a few years into their current career, keen for a fresh start or re-entering the workforce after maternity/paternity leave or a career break.

 

Here are Rowan’s top tips for working mothers:

  • On where ‘Toddling in Heels’ came from: Toddling in Heels grew out of frustration. I’d had my first son and had realised motherhood was a gift and something I was really enjoying, but it wasn’t all of me. I was missing work so set up an editorial company with a friend. I was doing that part time, and I was bored. I was also frustrated by talking to full-time mums at the nursery gates, who were quite judgemental of me working while my son was still quite young. I felt like that story wasn’t being told and women like me weren’t being represented. I thought it was an interesting story to explore, pitched it to the Scottish version of Hello! and it was picked up.

 

  • On how motherhood changes your career: If we’re talking about being visible and feeling passionate about something, nothing really changed for me career wise after I became a mother. Obviously, my priorities in some way changed but I didn’t suddenly lose my ambition or career drive. I found a way to make it work. I understand that I am very privileged in that I had a supportive home environment and felt able to make it work in a way that some people can’t and that’s fine. Equally I don’t think women should have to compromise their personal goals, or who they are, because they have children.

 

  • On guilt and regret: Believe me, I’ve had many moments when I’ve felt guilty and worried. God, you beat yourself up as a working mum all the time because you don’t think you’re giving your best to any part of your life. But now my children are 13 and 16 and they can tell me, as young adults, that they’re proud of me. They’re really glad that I do what I do and they find it inspiring. So, I have no regrets.

 

  • On hard days and responsibility: Sometimes being a mum is hard and people just don’t talk about it. It can be tough but you make it work. People can be shy about talking about the difficulties, challenges and compromises we make as parents. Particularly with the compromises women have to make, we get the rough end of it! Especially during the Pandemic, I think women were expected to work as well as take on the majority of responsibility for domestic life.

 

  • On the overlaps between work and home life: There is an overlap in a weird way between parenting and running a team. I think two sides of my personality that come out in my roles as a leader and a mum are kindness and having high expectations. Being a mum, I’m quite maternal. I think the team probably see that. I care about them very deeply. Probably too much sometimes. I’m up at 1am wondering if everyone’s happy! Kindness is something I try to embody as a parent but also at work. It’s not something you always get right but it’s something I strive for in both of my roles!

 

“I am maternal but I expect people to take personal responsibility. I expect this of my kids. Both my kids, I’m happy to say, are quite entrepreneurial now. They see entrepreneurship as an option for them and I think they wouldn’t have if I didn’t do what I do. So, I’m very proud of that.”

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