Celebrity PR agent Ros Fraser
Ros works in PR in London. She has a two year old son, Jonah, who was born with a condition called craniosynostosis, and is pregnant with her second baby. She tells us how she relaunched her career after living overseas for three years, and why being a working mum is important to her.
What was it like returning to the UK after living abroad?
When I fell pregnant with my son I was living in Spain with my now-husband. I’d been living there for three years, and while life was easy and wonderful, I didn’t feel like settling down there.
When I first came back to the UK, I was still expecting Jonah didn’t have a job or a prospect of one, so I worked in a school as a teaching assistant. I also did some freelance PR work for a company I used to work for to get back into the business and rebuild my contacts, and ended up going on tour with George Michael while I was pregnant!
What happened when Jonah was born?
I had Jonah in December 2011, and though I was ready to go back to work, he was born with a condition called craniosynostosis, which meant that parts of his skull had fused prematurely, putting pressure on his brain and manipulating his skull to grow abnormally. Jonah needed urgent operations and we were lucky enough to be under the care of the wonderful doctor Jeelani and his team at Great Ormond Street, who had pioneered a new procedure for the condition.
Jonah had his first operation at five months, during which the surgeons cut a section out and turned it an angle to create a wedge, and then put two springs into his skull to force the plates apart and let his skull grow back naturally around the wedge. Two months later they removed the springs and everything is fine now. Though we still need to go back for yearly checks to make sure he’s growing correctly and his development is normal.
Is it hard being a working mum?
As a mum, I feel that I have to be relevant and show I can still do the job as well as someone under 30 who has been working consistently for seven years. It doesn’t help too that I’m also the oldest person in my company! We’re always comparing ourselves to someone else.
Mostly at work though, I go into ‘work mode’ and try to switch off from being a mum. But sometimes my mum or mum in law, who care for Jonah once a week, will send me a picture of him and I’ll go soppy and miss him.
What does working mean to you?
Working makes me feel fulfilled. It’s a passion for me – I get a satisfaction from it, from using my brain and keeping it ticking. I know for some mums staying at home is the right choice, but I feel really comfortable that I’m at work. I love my job and I enjoy being there, that’s why I know I can do it. I have no regrets about being a working mum and intend to go back after I have my second child.
I really like the balance in my life right now – I go to work and get to drink tea while it’s hot, and have adult conversation, then I go home and be a mum.
Have you ever had a crisis of confidence about your career?
I quite understand why some mums feel like they’ve lost confidence after being off work for a while, or that their skills have dated. I came back to my career as a mum after a three year break, and wondered who would employ me!
I knew that I was still very capable of doing the job, but things change so much. Contacts date and media is always evolving – social networking, for example, came in overnight.
There are always new skills you need to learn in any industry, which can be both exhilarating and daunting . But I think the most important thing, if you’ve lost confidence after being out of work for a while, is just to get out there and do something. A friend of mine got a job in a local cheese shop just to get out of the house and meet people, and she loves it. By motivating yourself you may rediscover your ambition, or discover a new passion or skill you didn’t know you had, and start a completely new career path.
It’s also important to seize opportunity and understand that you can choose again. When I was looking for work after having Jonah, I extended my search beyond just what I knew – I looked into different industries like publishing as I knew that a lot of my skills would be easily transferable.
What did you do to relaunch your career after having Jonah?
When I first knew I was coming back to the UK from Spain I started putting feelers out, and talked to old colleagues and contacts in the business. After Jonah had his second operation I got in touch with everyone again and asked to meet up and have a chat.
At first I considered starting my own business, and began working with a few clients, sending out press releases and that kind of thing. It really helped me to get my confidence back and realise that I did still have good ideas, and that the creativity was still there. It was a great exercise, but I found it hard trying to work with a seven month-old at home, and felt like I was neglecting him to work. The set up just wasn’t working – I had to be on the phone all the time, responding to calls and emails and I felt really guilty.
I started looking at childcare for Jonah, and realised that I’d have to get a job that paid me or get more clients immediately, which I wasn’t in a position to do as I’d been out of industry too long. So when I heard about my current job, I decided I needed to go for it.
I work in the entertainment department and manage new business, which involves finding new clients – a part of the job I hadn’t done before. I work three days a week, but my mobile is always on and I’m always checking and responding to emails – it’s the nature of my job and I don’t mind doing it.
How have things changed at work now you’re a mum?
Before I had Jonah, I worked with musicians, actors and fashion and my work involved a lot more travelling around with them. Now my talent are a mix of up-and-coming and household names in TV dramas and prime time TV show presenters, and I’m office-based.
When I’m out of the office, I do think about work, but I’m better at juggling my work and home life now, and I know how important it is to switch off. I still check my emails and make sure I’m not missing anything, but when I am with Jonah he’s my propriety. And I am really lucky that my company is super-supportive.
How do you plan to work around your new baby?
I’m going to work as late into my pregnancy as I possibly can, hopefully until my due date! And then the idea is that I will return to my job after six or eight months, depending on how I feel. I do love my job, and financially I need to work, so staying at home isn’t an option.
Ros works for RKM Communications, an Entertainment and Consumer PR agency that manages the PR and media for clients that range from celebrities, to beauty products and fashion brands. Follow them on Twitter for their latest updates.