Scheduling time to give birth into a full working day

This is the story of the amazing Sarah Hamilton, a visionary woman who founded BellaBox with her Singapore-based sister a couple of years ago.

I first met Sarah after reading that she and her sister had launched an adaptation of the successful US beauty ecommerce business BirchBox.

"You were the first person to phone me for a meeting," she recalled as we caught up for coffee this week.

Since the meeting that resulted in an affiliate-style partnership with the beauty website Primped that I published at the time, Sarah has also launched her first child.

In what I have come to learn is typical Sarah-style, she worked right up to the birth - literally unplugging her laptop to have her final scan before being induced.

"My mum kept saying to my sister 'at some point Sarah has to stop working to have this baby'", she said.

In the lead-up to the birth Sarah and her sister secured a lucrative deal with a group of investors that will allow them to realise their dreams. But in the middle of the due diligence process, Sarah had to reveal to her future business partners that she was pregnant. She did all she could to reassure them that she could continue to drive the business juggling the demands of a baby. Only a man would ever doubt it.

There was a two-week period of grace post the birth and then the phone started ringing and never stopped. Sarah breastfeeds her daughter while on conference calls and expresses so the breast milk feeding can continue when she needs to jump on an airplane and head to Sydney for a day of business meetings.

Her story is also the story of the birth of my youngest son. I worked late the evening before I had to check in for my Caesarian. My husband phoned me at the office to tell me to go home and rest but there was still so much to do before I could contemplate time away from the office. I too breastfed during business calls. I also took my baby to client presentations, where one client famously changed his nappy while I was speaking.

Like Sarah, I was in the middle of a key business issue at the time of the birth. I had been appointed to my role just two months earlier and was charged with leading a business turnaround, starting with the product. There was no choice but to keep going. It was actually an exciting and rewarding way to manage maternity leave. It's not for everyone but it worked for me. And it clearly works well for Sarah too.

Have you had a similar experience?

Marina Go

Marina Go is Chair of the Wests Tigers NRL Club, a non-executive director of Autosports Group and author of the business book for women, Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders. She was previously GM of Hearst Australia at Bauer Media. Boss magazine named her as one of 20 True Leaders of 2016.  Marina has over 25 years of leadership experience in the media industry, having started her career as a journalist. She was appointed Editor of Dolly magazine at the age of 23, before spending the next decade editing a number of leading women's magazines. She has held senior leadership roles at Fairfax, Pacific, Emap, Bauer and Private Media, where she was CEO and founder of the career website Women’s Agenda.  

She is a director of digital startup Daily Siren, and also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Australian Republican Movement and Women’s Agenda. She is a former director of Netball Australia, Odyssey House,  Sydney Symphony Vanguard and The Apparel Group. She lectures on digital media at the University of Technology, Sydney, is a Mentor with the Women In Media and NRL Women programs and a UNSW Alumni Leader and Ambassador. She has an MBA from The Australian Graduate School of Management, a BA (Mass Communications) from Macquarie University and is a member of the AICD. She is a mother of two young men and passionate about diversity and equality. 

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