Natalie Slessor

General Manager, Work > Workplace > Place, Lendlease

Roles in life and work

I am Mum to Bailey (14) and Amelie (12) and a our mini-foxie pup Barbara (3), as well as General Manager of Wellbeing and Change at Lendlease.

What are you juggling right now in your life?

I walk my dog at 530am every day and often wake feeling like I am already running late. People tell you that you the juggle gets easier as your kids ages, but that’s certainly not the case – the load remains the same, it just takes a different shape. It’s a delight being bought up by two beautiful kids, but the homework and social pressures of teenagers increases with age. My husband is based in Brisbane during the week for his role building the new Suncorp building and at the same time we are building our dream home, our forever home. On top of all that my job is split between Australia and the USA, so when I travel Tim comes back to Sydney. It’s like a chess game working out where everyone is sometimes.

How do you value your time?

I don’t think I am very good at valuing time if I am honest. I would give all my time away if I could, I am just not good at carving time for myself. I think we focus on how busy we can be and the volume of things we can achieve with time, rather than valuing time itself. It would be nice to value slow time more. This summer we spent time as a family lying by the pool in the middle of our building site – yep, we built the pool before the house! – but it was really lovely away-from-the-buzz time, it’s that kind of slow time I want our family to have together, I want our new home to be a sanctuary where slow time is what we do normally.

I have always had the ethos that everyone in the family has the same rules. We all go to work or school Monday to Friday with take away dinner on a Friday night. Weekends are for sport and relaxing. We are all in it together, that’s the idea, that we work as a team – for example, we all sit down together to do our homework and outstanding work. It’s so much easier for everyone to get things done at the same time and then it feels like a team event that everyone is a part of rather than me being a servant to everyone, or just nagging. I hear all the time that women feel they have so many jobs in life and are not doing any very well. I want my kids to understand that as a team we get things done together, we all share the chores, we get everything done and we can then relax together.

How do you manage your time effectively?

I am lucky that I have created flexible ways of working for myself. No one gave it to me and I often advise people you need to take it and just do it. Whilst flexible working is often manager driven, I believe you need to create flexible ways of working for yourself. You need to ask you manager if you are delivering to expectations, have agreed KPIs in place and just be adults about the reality of juggling responsibilities.

The challenge is often about presence in the office over performance. Lendlease is trying to tackle this challenge with our new offering “The Local Office”. Whilst working in the office has its advantages of being part of the team, and working from home can allow you the time and space to think, both environments bring competing objectives in getting your work done. We have introduced “The Local Office” pilot to Lendlease customers living in the Manly community, where they can drop in and utilise a beautifully designed space that enables you to be focused and get your work done. This helps overcome the presence challenge where managers can see their team are logged on and trust they are not distracted by household responsibilities and enabled you to get your job done without the travel to work and distractions of the team.

How do you separate work and personal time?

Work is a big part of who I am. I don’t compartmentalise work and personal time, I just try to find harmony between the two. This harmony was the inspiration for “The Local Office”.

Whilst I have a flexible working arrangement, I also like to share the details of my work with my family and as they learn about projects I am involved in, they too get excited, like I do about their projects. Another example of our same rules for everyone ethos.

What does your support network look like?

The greatest part is knowing I have my father close by, it is one of the biggest comforts to me. I can call on him when I need help, but I can also do the same with friends made amongst my children’s friends parents. Whilst I have a great group of friends from before kids, we are all at different stages of life and I find the parents of my children’s friends can provide really practical support day to day.  Other than that we just manage it all as a family.

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?

I am not too kind to myself to be honest. I am often unconstructive and give myself a hard time that my personal to do list isn’t getting shorter. Whilst I get time to walk my dog on a daily basis and spend time watching the kids sport as an example, I am not great at spending time on things that are restorative. When I do spend the time to restore, I can shut that inner voice up.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?

I outsource as much as I can afford and I do a weekly menu plan with my daughter every Sunday night. That way the kids can do the online grocery order or prepare dinner if I get home late. I also encourage the team approach to home work. We don’t put the TV on until everyone’s work is complete and that way when we are all done we can spend quality time together and there is a great deal of satisfaction in having got everything done and then unwinding together.

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