In 2010, Gemma Zommerfield and husband Lee moved into their first Army quarter in Belfast. Since then they’ve had two more postings. In 2016, they decided to buy their first family home along with sons Sebastian (5) and Mason (3). Gemma told us how she’s managed to keep her career on track…
Have you found a job at every posting?
Yes, as soon as Lee receives a posting order I update my CV and register with recruitment agencies and job boards. I always aim to have a job secured before our move date. It’s important for me to have my own career and independence.
Have you followed the same career path?
Yes, but it has evolved. Since the age of 17, I have worked within finance/payroll, but an opportunity arose for me to train and work in HR and I haven’t looked back.
What prompted you to ask your current employer for flexible working?
Whilst we were posted to Reading, I worked for a design company for four years before Lee received his posting to Wincanton. I was upfront with my employers from the outset and although the company did not have a flexible working policy, I knew I could do my role remotely so I wrote a letter explaining how it could be performed effectively from home. They agreed to a three-month trial and have allowed me to continue my role on a permanent basis travelling into the office one day a week.
How has flexible working benefited your Army family life?
It has benefited me and the whole family. It has allowed me to develop my career alongside my husband’s.
How easy was it to make the change from your previous working pattern?
Very easy! I spend less time commuting, but you have to be focused and motivated to perform as effectively as you would from the office. You very quickly learn to go into work mode and switch off from chores. I sacrifice a room in the house to use as an office, so although it’s very convenient, there are drawbacks.
What would you recommend to others who are keen to work flexibly?
Find something you enjoy and are passionate about, then don’t let anything stop you achieving your goals. To request flexible working, do your research, put your request in writing and explain the business benefits. It’s always worth asking – your employers may surprise you.