01 April 2022

Being a working mother: Giulia's account of returning from maternity leave

Giulia, Digital Marketing Specialist at Mashfrog Group, but above all, a second-time new mother, told us about her return to work after maternity leave and the surprise of the "mamma and papà" parental bonus received from the company.

intervista giulia sonderegger

Tell us about your education and your first work experience.

After obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Communication, I moved to Rome to continue my studies with a Master's Degree in Design, Visual and Multimedia Communication at the Faculty of Architecture. It was a very enriching experience, not only because it allowed me to combine two of my great passions, communication and design, but also because it was a unique interdisciplinary environment, where I met students of all nationalities. This experience gave rise to my predilection for teamwork, which I still carry with me in all the projects I work on: I am convinced that the synergy between different skills makes it possible to achieve results that would be impossible to achieve alone.

After my studies, I immediately started working at the university, but I soon joined a marketing and communications agency where I began my professional development, first as a content writer and then in SEO and link building. After a few years in business, this company was acquired by Mashfrog, and my work with this company began.

What do you do in Mashfrog?

At Mashfrog, my main focus is on developing SEO link acquisition strategies for clients (link building), accompanying them from start to finish. I also work with brand monitoring, so I listen to the network to intercept positive and negative references to the client, to whom I then suggest targeted communication measures. These are activities that I really enjoy: I can simultaneously build relationships of collaboration and trust with clients, while working on the web, my great passion.

During your professional career, you have also carried out two very important "personal projects": Laura and Claudio were born.

Yes, they are my most important projects: Lauretta was born in 2016, Claudio arrived in 2021, when I was already working at Mashfrog. In both cases, I had to take early leave from work for health reasons; in Claudio's case, I went on maternity leave in September 2020, just a few weeks before the start of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I won't deny that this situation of general uncertainty, exacerbated by the arrival of a second child, caused me to experience moments of anxiety and fear, which fortunately melted away in March 2021, with the birth of my child. 

What was it like to return to the company after maternity leave? 

In both cases, it was great to go back to work and to recover a space of my own where I could find myself in a role other than that of a mother. With one major difference between the first and second child: in Claudio's case, I returned to work in January 2022, when we were all still in full smart working mode. Being able to start working from home again allowed me to better manage the separation from my son, who attends a nursery near my home: knowing that I was close to him was also a big relief from a psychological point of view, and this enhanced feeling of wellbeing allowed me to concentrate more on my work. 

How has the company helped you manage this transition from maternity leave to work? 

When I returned, I encountered a great deal of helpfulness, first and foremost on the behalf of my supervisor and the entire team, who kept me constantly up-to-date on the activities, giving me time to reacclimate myself and retrieve information on the projects in progress; I felt understood and listened to, something I have greatly appreciated and haven't taken for granted. It was also very nice to meet up with old colleagues and get to know the new members of the Digital Marketing & Optimisation BU. Everyone treated me as if I had always been part of the team; in fact, we all agreed to make a new start together, harnessing all the positive energy that my fresh and new approach has brought. Basically, it was a smooth and worry-free return, certainly helped along by smart working.

And then came the "mamma and papà" bonus...

Yes, it was a very nice surprise to receive an economic incentive when returning from maternity leave. I was pleasantly impressed by the company's willingness to show me its support at this time. I perceived it, on the one hand, as a welcome-to-the-world gift to my son, and on the other, as a "welcome back to the company; this is our way of making you feel welcome among us again" to me. This showed me that I am appreciated and have always been considered part of the company, which is also reflected in the fact that I continued to receive company gifts and invitations to events even while I was on maternity leave. 

On a final note, what does being a working mother mean to you? What are some areas for improvement that should be addressed to facilitate mothers' ability to go back to work?

I have always tried to reconcile work and children as best I can, without taking anything away from both, but seeking a continuous synergy between these two very different, yet intertwined, areas of my life.

Of course, juggling work and managing two small children is not easy, but I think that we mothers have an advantage in this respect, because we have a mental set-up that is already prepared to plan different activities in parallel. Also, being able to work via smart working makes organisation a lot easier for me, allowing me to concentrate on my work when the children are at nursery and school. I believe that all companies should strongly consider the advantages of working from home for working mothers (but also fathers), because it makes us better mothers and workers.