Technology professional Phil Yang tells his flexibility story.
Over the past five years I’ve been studying my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) part time, while also working full time with Scentre Group. I just finished studying recently, in May 2017.
When I first started the course the lecturers used a bit of a scare tactic, and told us it was the “divorce course” because it requires so much time and work, and in the beginning it was a bit of an adjustment to manage my time to accommodate study, work and family life.
Over the five years, Scentre Group has always provided me with flexibility for my study. It wasn’t a set arrangement because every subject in the course has different timelines and my need for flexibility would therefore change. I got flexibility either by leaving early to attend group assignment catch-ups and networking events, or through taking exam days off so I could go through my notes and prepare myself.
"Flexibility has been openly and formally adopted...I'm grateful for the support and understanding that has allowed me to further develop my career."
Phil Yang, flexible worker and MBA graduate
Having the flexibility meant I didn’t need to be scarce with my annual leave and worry about using it for time with my family in case I needed it to study. It also meant that when I did take my annual leave it was time set aside just for me, I didn’t have to work or study on those days, which was really important as working and studying is full on!
Given that my study was over five years from 2012 to 2017, it’s interesting to reflect and think back because the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) flexible working policy wasn’t always in place.
Prior to Scentre Group days, there were certain pockets of the business where flexibility was semi-casually adopted – and I was always provided the flexibility I needed – but because it was informal there was a feeling of incorrectness about it. I would always be discreet about saying I was going on study leave, and there was a little bit of guilt about doing it and concern that people might view it as me taking advantage.
Post Scentre Group and the D&I Council driving change through the business, I definitely feel flexibility has been openly and formally adopted so there’s no need to be discreet. With people now sharing their experiences and speaking about it, you don’t feel guilty and I think that snowballs and builds adoption of the policy, which is so important because it means people in the organisation feel like they can pursue something outside of work, whether it’s study or anything else.
I think this change in flexible working, from casual to formal, is great and I’m grateful for the understanding that study was something I wanted to pursue to further develop my career, and the flexibility and support for me to do that.