Balancing motherhood and a successful career: Corrinna Penfold

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we would like to share our Client Services Director of Technology, Corrinna Penfold’s story on balancing work and being a mother.

Corrinna has an impressive background in customer service and sales. Her career journey started in a customer service position while she was still studying at university. Over time, she progressed to leading a call centre and then moved into a client-facing role in a customer claims position. Eventually, Corrinna landed a sales position and proved her mettle by exceeding expectations in a commission-driven role.

Despite taking two maternity leaves, Corrinna's motivation to succeed in a sales career has never wavered. During her second maternity leave, she interviewed for an account management position with The Delivery Group Inc (now Agilus Work Solutions). Diana, the former owner and now President, Technology Solutions at Agilus recognized Corrinna's work ethic and drive, and offered her the position, which Corrinna excelled in for 3.5 years. Her hard work and results-driven approach saw her progress to a sales lead position in November 2021, before being appointed as our Director of Client Services – Technology in October 2022, the position she currently holds. Her experience in sales and customer service as well as maintaining very meaningful connections with clients and consultants has been invaluable in her current role, and she continues to inspire and lead her team to deliver exceptional results.

How has motherhood influenced your career path and decisions?

I've always wanted to have a successful career and be a mother. When my previous company went through a M&A, I realized it wasn't going to be a suitable place for me long term. At that time, my husband and I were discussing having a second child, so I used my maternity leave to find a better career opportunity. I want to continue climbing the corporate ladder to leave a legacy for my children, especially my daughter, and show her that having both a successful career and family is possible. I believe in setting goals, working hard, and persevering through challenges to achieve rewards in both areas of life. Despite the challenges, I want my children to see that they too can have their own aspirations while balancing family life.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a working mother and what strategies have you used to maintain a healthy work-life balance?

As a working mother with a son who has autism, finding balance and being present in the moment has been the biggest challenge for me. I strive to be fully focused on work when I'm at work and on my kids when I'm with them. Although it's not ideal, I've found success by working late at night after putting my kids to bed. My employer is supportive of my need for flexibility, and I've tailored my schedule around my kids' appointments and obligations. It takes a lot of effort and some long days, but I believe you can control your work ethic and effort. Having a mentor who was also a working mom, like Diana, was a huge advantage for me in achieving my goals and maintaining my work-life balance.

How do you feel your employer supports working mothers and what could they improve on?

Agilus values work+life and offers support to its employees through initiatives like Wellness Days and increased flexibility. The hybrid working model has been advantageous for me and allows me to balance work and family responsibilities.

The hybrid model can be a positive solution for many organizations, especially in the technology market where remote work is becoming increasingly popular. It allows for flexibility and can be beneficial for both employees and employers. It’s important to communicate the benefits of the hybrid model and how it can improve work-life balance and productivity, while giving employees in-person training and development as well as invaluable real time with leaders and company influencers for potential career advancement

What advice would you give to other working mothers who are trying to climb the corporate ladder?

There are two things that you can control in life: your attitude and your work ethic. Waking up with the right attitude every day goes a long way. You can control the amount of effort that you put into things through your actions and work ethic. Instead of watching TV for two hours before going to bed, I choose to work and push my business forward even if it's just a little bit. There's a saying: "If you improve by 1% every day, in 100 days, you’re 100% better." My suggestion would be to control your attitude and effort and strive for the promotion because you’re worthy and deserving. There will be some sacrifices, but you don’t have to choose between personal fulfillment and professional success.

Take advantage of the hybrid working model to balance life, but also to make yourself seen, heard, and recognized with an in-office presence. Actions speak louder than words: raise your hand, ask for more, and deliver results!

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception people have about working mothers?

Mothers have a lot on their plate. As working moms, there is often a feeling of guilt if we can't keep up with everything at home and we may feel like we're not doing enough. As women, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to take care of all the appointments, gift-giving, cooking, cleaning, and other household tasks, and the biggest misconception is having to choose between personal obligations and professional achievement. It's important not to feel guilty about pursuing our careers, especially when our kids are young and may not fully understand. They may just see that we're not available in the moment. It can be difficult, but if our children see our continued work ethic as they grow older, they will learn to respect us for it.

Having a strong support system is crucial, and it doesn't need to come from a spouse. Friends, family, or anyone who can offer support or motivation is key to success. Surrounding yourself with like-minded, ambitious, positive influences in your personal life will translate and keep you on track with your professional goals. They can serve as a support system and cheerleader for our success as both a mom and a professional.

What is your hope for the future of working mothers in the corporate world?

I'm fortunate to have worked for both male and female leaders who have children and are more empathetic towards working mothers. If I were reporting to a male with limited responsibilities at home, I'm not sure if I would have the same level of flexibility or comfort that I do in my current job. My hope for the future is that opportunities are equally awarded to women and men regardless of whether they have children or not or whether they may have children in the future and take parental leaves. Also, a universal understanding not everyone's working schedule needs to be the same, if the production is there. Whether I work at 6:00 AM or 9:00 PM shouldn't matter as long as my productivity and results remain strong.

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