Ten2Two Sussex founders Emma Cleary and Laurie Smith

If you’re struggling to find a rewarding flexible career, we’ve got some great news – Ten2Two are on a mission to change this, one region of the UK at a time. And now, friends Emma Cleary and Laurie Smith have just launched Ten2Two to help mums (and dads) in Sussex. We asked them about their plans.

What’s your career background?

Laurie: I have a background in luxury boutique hotel management in Paris, London and the French West Indies, running prestigious hotels such as Le Toiny in St Barths and 22 Jermyn Street in London.

I stepped back from full time hotel management in 2010 but still run my own hotel management consultancy company, Les Ilets SARL, working for a private owner in St Barths.

Emma: My background was initially as a teacher and then in media. I worked at Hobsons Publishing, part of the Daily Mail and General Trust Group, and then for The Global Wall Street Journal on the sales team liaising closely with the marketing team.

My roles were sales based with blue chip accounts such as IBM, HP, British Airways and Rolls Royce. This required local client and agency management and global liaison with the sales teams around the world.

How did your career change once you had children?

Laurie: I carried on working full time (tricky but do-able with just one!) until I had my second child. I was lucky enough to have an exceptionally wonderful employer (Henry Togna) who allowed me to work flexibly after child number two.

I retained my General Manager position at 22 Jermyn Street while working two days from home and three days in the hotel… almost unheard of in the industry, but proof that it can be done!

Emma: I went back to Dow Jones after maternity leave on a full time basis and then to a four day week over the first year. I found the whole process very stressful and ended up handing in my notice to move out of London to the Sussex countryside.

Although flexible working hours had just been brought into the company through current legislation, it was not a corporate culture that readily embraced anything less than a 40 hour week.

What inspired you to launch Ten2Two in Sussex?

Laurie: After the closure of 22 Jermyn Street in 2010 I was happy to devote more time to my family and just continue with the consultancy for the St Barths property.

Now the children are older I have a little more time on my hands and was itching to get my teeth into another project, but one that could still give me the flexibility to be around for the children and to work to my own schedule.

Emma and I met through our village preschool many years ago and discovered that we made a great team when we both joined the committee, Emma as chairperson with me as her treasurer. We worked on this together for several years, long after our children had left the pre-school!

Emma found Ten2Two when she was looking to go back to work herself on a flexible basis and realised how few companies were catering for this sector. Emma approached me to join her in bringing this to concept to Sussex and I was instantly extremely enthusiastic about the idea – having had the benefit of flexible working myself I am a firm advocate.

Emma: There is such a wealth of wasted talent at my children’s school, many who are quite happy not to need to work, but there are those who are not prepared to compromise their duties as a mum for anything less than a flexible and supportive environment.

Many have completely lost their confidence, and through Ten2Two’s workshops and nurturing will finally have found a way to be both super mum and super employees. With the local businesses that we will partner and this pool of talent we will find ways to put the two party’s together so that everyone is happy.

How will you help women (and businesses)?

Laurie and Emma: We are dedicated to helping professional women find rewarding work. We recognise that going back to work or changing a current role involves more than just finding a job, and we will be running regular skills workshops for our members in order to rebuild confidence and update skills. We’ll also provide a forum for our members to communicate and share experiences.

We are busy  building a database of skilled professionals who want to work flexibly, so companies can benefit from the amazing pool of talent on their doorsteps. Flexible and part-time working is the easy way to solve resourcing challenges and is an affordable way to recruit.

What do you anticipate your biggest challenges to be?

Laurie and Emma: Changing pre-conceived ideas that employees need to be in the office eight hours a day Monday to Friday!

Although many companies are now coming around to this idea, we aim to show and convince them that they can benefit from this huge pool of talent on their doorsteps if they are prepared to extend some flexibility. It really is a win-win situation for both parties.

How will you fit Ten2Two around your children?

Laurie and Emma: With organisation, flexibility, a great network of mum helpers and some juggling! It’s perfectly feasible, especially now the children are older and more independent.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?

Laurie and Emma: We think Ten2Two will go from strength to strength – the economy is picking up, and we see flexible working as the way forward. New technology makes this so much easier and gradually the 9-5 culture is dying out.  

What advice do you have for other ambitious mums?

Laurie and Emma: To believe in themselves and their capabilities, and to realise that they can be a mum, hold the family together and have a fulfilling career. It just takes confidence, organisation and a good support network.

It’s a big step getting back into the market place after a career break and it’s very easy to lose confidence in your ability. But generally once you’re back in the corporate world, the transition is much easier and smoother than you think, and we are there to support you at every step!

Live in Sussex and want to find out how Ten2Two can help you? Or want to find out if they cover your area? Check out their website