"A company led by real life human beings, many of whom have raised mini human beings themselves."

A short interview with a working mum Kate Morphew, Head of People Operations (Europe).

Kate Morphew

Head of People Operations, A.S. Watson Group (Europe)

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

 I’m Kate, Head of People Operations for Group Europe. I work full time and have a 4-year-old daughter.

Could you tell us about your A.S. Watson journey so far?

 I joined the People Team at ASW in 2011 as Learning & Development Administrator. At the time I was in my mid-twenties, new to London life, and single. Now I’m 34 with a 4-year-old daughter! The last 8 years have been brilliant. I have had 5 different roles all within the Group People team and I’m still learning every day.  

You are a working parent, how are you finding it at A.S. Watson?

 ASW is a company led by real life human beings, many of whom have raised mini human beings themselves. They get it. Of course, it’s full on, but it’s about getting the balance right.

What do you find the most challenging when balancing these two areas of your life?

Finding the right childcare is so important. Knowing she’s happy and being looked after well, means I can focus on what I’m doing during the day.

What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?

 Spending quality time with my little family. This means working my socks off, so when we are together we really appreciate and enjoy our time together. I’m not prepared to compromise – I want to balance both – success in my job, and to feel I’m not missing out at home. 

How is the company supporting you on your ‘working parent’ journey?

 By helping me achieve this balance through recognising and valuing my contribution. As with most jobs, it can be really hard work and I give it my all, but in return, a bit of flexibility, patience and support is always there when I really need it.

What is the one thing other employees with no children simply don’t get?

The toughest part of my day is usually done by 7.30am. Whatever life throws at me from then on is a breeze!

What do you think could be done across the industry to better support women in the workplace, especially those who are juggling their family and working lives?

 To empower women returning to work – the balance is achievable. Recognise the value working mothers contribute to the workforce. From my own experience and observations, the productivity and focus of a working parent must not be underestimated.  

As an HR practitioner, what do you think the life of a working parent will look like in the next 5 – 10 years?

I think we’re going to see more parents using shared parental leave meaning both parents can share the statutory 52 week’s leave. It’s going to be interesting seeing if, and how companies adapt to this change, and if it will start changing the traditional, but still relevant perception of mothers being the main bearer of childcare responsibility. 

What’s the most precious moment during your day?

The 5 minutes after story time, before the night light goes on - that’s when I get to hear, in very precise detail, all the stuff that she’s been mulling over all day. It’s amazing the lengths kids will go to put off actually going to sleep! Quite the opposite for mummy and daddy!