Clare Anderson and Anjanie MacKenzie, Technical Account Managers with Microsoft UK’s Premier Services team, have a very unique working relationship. Not only are they colleagues on the same team, they also share the same role equally as a job share.
A job share is when two people jointly do a full-time job, sharing the remuneration and the responsibility. Typically, in a job share, the two employees have a day where they work together which enables a handover discussion backed up with a continuous action plan. While this unique situation may not work for everyone, for Anderson and MacKenzie, they agree, they have found the perfect career partnership.
“I never envisioned my career taking me in this direction,” says MacKenzie. “Being one half of a job share is one of the best decisions I have made so far professionally.”
Two and a half years ago, Anderson and MacKenzie met working for one of the UK’s largest Retail companies as Service Delivery Managers managing their IT hardware support contracts for all retail stores in the UK. Anderson helped create the job share role with support from the leadership team and MacKenzie joined the team five months later from another part of the organization. MacKenzie worked Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, while Anderson worked Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Working as a job-share, they successfully managed multimillion pound IT contracts over the next eighteen months before coming across the opportunity to join Microsoft as technical account managers.
While the role was not advertised as a flexible working role, Anderson and MacKenzie knew that they wanted to pursue it together. After speaking to the Microsoft recruitment consultant, it was decided that Microsoft would be open to assessing both women individually and as a job share. Throughout the interviews, Anderson and MacKenzie communicated openly with each other and discussed all various outcomes.
“We discussed the possibility of only one of us being offered the job and what would that mean to us,” says Anderson. “In the end we decided we would have an honest discussion if this was to happen and support each other in this process.”
Fortunately, both were offered the role and were welcomed into the Microsoft UK Premier Services Team in October 2015. At that point, they were the first people to be recruited as a job share at Microsoft UK .
“I was so excited when I found out Clare and I were successful in the recruitment process,” says MacKenzie. “Being recruited as a job share was the first of its kind in the UK, and it’s great to pioneer this way of working flexibly.”
Both women believe passionately in working flexibly and count themselves fortunate to have found each other as they journey through their careers together. They believe the reason a job share arrangement works so well for them boils down to the fact that they share the same values and have a similar working style, but also tackle challenges differently which lends itself to the “two heads are better than one” approach. They trust each other implicitly, look out for each other, and are the first to own up to errors, while also helping to nurture each other’s talents.
Being a technical account manager and a job share means that they have to be organized so that they’re able to show continuity to customers as well as internally, meeting team and colleague expectations.
“Our customers have been really open to the fact that we job share,” says Anderson. “At first they were fascinated and asked lots of questions, but we find that their positive feedback demonstrates the value they gain from having both of us working with them.”
Being able to work flexibly means that they can have the best of both worlds, the ultimate work-life balance. They choose to work this way, and Microsoft has supported the women throughout the recruitment process and on their career paths. They feel that they are on a cusp of change where job sharing is being taken more seriously within the IT Industry and believe there is no reason why they can’t progress their careers working flexibly this way. Embracing talented individuals from a diverse background, be it culture or outlook, can be enabled with a more flexible approach.
Empowering people with flexible working options at Microsoft is one way in which we can bring many talented people needing a greater work life balance into our workforce.