Balancing Fatherhood and a Full-Time Job at Choco

Senior Accountant, Jamie Connolly, shares his experience working full-time at Choco as a new parent.
Life at Choco Nov 29, 2021
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In February of 2020, my daughter Ellis was born. I was based in Los Angeles at the time (not yet with Choco) and took my six weeks paternity leave expecting to be back in my office in mid-March. I never returned to that office. Covid arrived and I saw out my final months in LA before returning to France with my wife and daughter as planned in July 2020.

Navigating life as a new father

All the clichés surrounding parenthood are true, it is an indescribable feeling, it does change your life and your perspectives. My daughter is the most intelligent, funny, charming, beautiful human to have walked this earth.

It’s also incredibly hard work, it’s scary, it’s stressful, sleep stops existing for a while, and it's a true test of your relationship, and in particular, your ability to communicate. I’m lucky to be supported by such an incredible wife and partner (hi Anna!), she holds me up and is both a rock and a role model.

Having Ellis in my life has focused my mind. I have committed to (but not yet always succeeded) sharing the mental and logistical load to raise Ellis with my wife. We aim to split everything as best we can from drop-offs and pick-ups from the crèche to bathtime and dinner in the evening. Everything I was learning as a new dad was proving valuable for my future career, I just didn’t know it yet.

Adding a full-time job to the mix

When I got back to Paris, I was confronted with a new challenge, applying for a job as a parent. It's a discussion that I had always taken for granted, but the reality is, it's a subject I wanted to raise at the interview stage and I was nervous as to how it would be received.

As a side note (and perhaps one of the reasons for this tension), I struggled to take paternity leave in my previous job. The sentiment from that employer was that taking this time with my daughter was almost an affront to my responsibilities and to my employer. Having now seen how Choco celebrates new parents, it's not something I am concerned about for my future, or for future Chocorians.

“I have a daughter, I will get my work done, but I also want to be home every night to see her before she goes to bed.” It's a simple sentence but my relief must have been palpable when the answer to this was batted away with a smile; no worries I was told, Choco respects people with all different situations and if you’re confident you can get the work done, then we trust you.

And with that, I joined Choco as a Senior Accountant in October of 2020.

Jamie

Since then, everyone at Choco has always stayed true to their word regarding this. My team has met its deadlines together being open, communicating, and taking everyone’s individual circumstances into account.

My Choco Experience

The first day(s) at Choco, I was a mess. During the lockdown, my wife and I had created this fusional unit, and all of a sudden I was breaking it to be absent for most of the day.

On my first day at Choco, on my way home, I was so eager to get back I didn’t notice the train platform had changed and so I got on a train in the wrong direction and sat distraught knowing that I wouldn’t make it home see my daughter that night (until 3 am anyway).

If I made it back to work each morning in the beginning, having Anna on my team was an integral part of it!

To help me navigate this time split, I’ve been able to implement a hard stop between 6 PM and 8:30 PM. These are non-negotiable hours and incredible bonding moments with my daughter. It also means that I occasionally need to log back in at 8:30 to finish any outstanding tasks. For me, the key to avoiding this on a personal level is to get the day started early, and work with focus (one of our core values at Choco) and purpose to ensure that I can be done on time.

My managers have also been fully supportive and allowed me to work from home when necessary and structure my days accordingly.

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Moreover, I have a team around me that is full of empathy and understanding. When I get a call from the crèche (nursery) saying I need to pick up Ellis or when the crèche had to close because of a contact case with one of the families, the first question is always ‘is everyone ok and healthy’ followed by ‘what do you need’.

It was the same for the first holiday I took. On the morning of our departure, I got a text from my manager telling me that this week was for my family, for us to relax, recharge and to under no circumstances look at Slack or my work email.

All in all, Choco is a place where people can thrive. No matter their family status or personal situation, it’s team-first, always. It’s also important to work for a company that is focusing on our future. I will be proud to tell Ellis when she grows up about Choco’s mission to reduce food waste and to make a positive impact on our planet.

Are you looking for a new challenge and passionate about creating a more sustainable food system? Choco is hiring talented people across the globe.

Be sure to check out our open positions and apply!

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