Embrace the chaos

A management position and family life are not enough for Roya: beyond her roles as Digital Fraud Defense Lead and mother of two, she is also renovating her house! How does she juggle it all without missing a beat?

You've been with ING for several years. How did you come to ING? And what is your current position?

I started as a Product Owner at ING, initially for the Login & Authorization area of our Internet banking. As Central Product Owner, I was then responsible for the Access & Trust area, in addition to my role as Product Owner for Login & Authorization. After my first parental leave, I was given the opportunity to start as a road manager in Tribe Digital Leadership, where I took care of topics such as portfolio management, prioritization of the Tribe backlog, as well as internal and external communication of overarching topics. When I came back from my second parental leave, I was able to work in Amsterdam for six months at Tribe Digital & CI. There I set up and launched the "Future of Mobile" program. The aim of this program was to future-proof the banking app, which has been on the market for a few years now. Technological modularization and flexibility are just as crucial as an above-average individual customer experience. I have been back in Germany since the beginning of 2023 and am responsible for all topics relating to digital fraud and, above all, fraud prevention in the Digital Leadership department. Due to its complexity and social relevance, this is a task that inspires me and constantly presents me with new challenges.

Tell us something about your family. How old are your children?

My two boys are two and five years old and are real bundles of energy. There's never a dull moment with us! In the middle of the pandemic, my husband and I decided to move to the countryside. Since then, we've been enjoying the "quiet" country life, but with our two rascals and renovating the house on our own, there's always something to do. πŸ˜‰

How do you manage to juggle your family and your job?

Good question! Sometimes I succeed quite well, but sometimes not at all. I've realized that the idea of being able to do justice to everyone and everything equally is an illusion. Fortunately, I don't have to manage everyday life and family alone. We have really great all-day childcare for both boys. In addition, my husband and I closely coordinate our work schedules. This means we can both be productive in our jobs, but the children don't miss out. We simply "embrace the chaos."😊

Do you have any tips for parents on how to keep their work-life balance under control?

I think couples should think about how best to divide up the so-called care work before the birth of a child. For us, childcare and work are equally important.   

In everyday life, we both try to take time out to go to the gym or simply do something on our own. Recharging our batteries helps us to avoid getting lost in the routine of family life. At the weekend, we spend a lot of time together doing cool activities or just relaxing on the couch. 

How do you divide your working hours and how do you combine them with school and kindergarten hours?

The boys are at nursery or kindergarten until late afternoon. My husband and I divide up the off-peak times towards the evening or get occasional help from a babysitter or grandparents. We try to divide up additional appointments and tasks as best we can or outsource them where it makes sense. My husband and I are also lucky that we can both work flexibly. Our hybrid working model means that we don't lose valuable time commuting to the office every day. If the children need one of us in the afternoon, we can switch certain tasks to the evening hours. Even if it's not the rule, this option for organizing our working hours is an enormous relief.

At ING, there are various initiatives and programs for balancing family and career. Which of these have helped you to balance your private and professional life so far?

For me, hybrid working is undoubtedly the number one benefit. The opportunity to work remotely by arrangement and also to be able to organize working hours flexibly to a certain extent. I also think the childcare allowance is great. In my day-to-day work, the open communication with my manager and the transparent collaboration in the Tribe with my colleagues is very valuable – even if it's not a contractual "benefit". πŸ˜‰

We heard that you took a few weeks off work this summer with flexi-time to spend time with your family. What was that like for you?

I found it really hard to let go in the first week! I'm sure my colleagues can confirm that. 😊 But little by little I was able to switch off. I knew that my project was in good hands and that my team would do a great job representing me.

How did your colleagues react to your flexi-time?

Some were initially skeptical as to whether the projects and topics could continue to run smoothly when I wasn't there. But most of them were very happy for me. I have the impression that the concept has already been widely tried and tested in the bank.

Many women believe they have to choose between starting a family and having a successful career. How do you feel about this?

There are many decisions to be made when starting a family, but giving up your career should not be an option. Neither women nor men should feel forced to do so. As a couple, you need to be clear about the new responsibilities and tasks that await you and how to divide them up.  

There is a reason they say it takes a village to raise a child. There are so many ways to build a support system if you want to. Of course, not everyone has the same conditions, but that’s not the case at work either, if we're honest. Grandparents or family in general are a great option, but paid babysitters, an au pair or similar can also provide this support.  

In my opinion, there is still a very conservative concept of family life in Germany: the mother takes parental leave (usually followed later by part-time work) and is responsible for the children, while the father pursues his career. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this if it’s what a couple really wants to do. However, mothers who want to resume their careers and seek help with childcare are quickly condemned as β€œbad” mothers. As a society, we should move away from this image of family. It's not just about the many talented women absent from the labor market; it's also personally important to me to be a role model for my children and the next generation. I want to normalize the fact that both mom and dad can have a great, important job if they want to. 

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