Empowering parents to strike a work-life balance

Kristy Whitnell wears many hats — she is a leader in PwC’s Global Mobility consulting team, she is a mother of three boys and carer of her youngest son, Jett — who was born with special needs, and alongside her family she is the face of this year’s Very Special Kids fundraising campaign.

The key to managing all her commitments? Flexibility.

“I work three allocated days and generally do two days in the office and one day at home, but it depends on my client meetings and whether I need time with my team, so it constantly changes. When I work in the office I do the afternoon school pick up, and when I work from home I drop the kids off in the morning.”

“Working flexibly works really well for me, although anyone with three kids will agree it’s always a bit of a juggling act.”

“The flexibly that I have at PwC really goes a long way, firstly, being able to return to work in the first place and secondly being able to have the role that I do and also have a family life. It's great to have the ability to change my hours and days, work from home if needed or go with Jett to last minute appointments that pop up or might get cancelled or changed.”

When Jett was born Kristy took three years off work to support him and their family at a critical time.

“Jett has no overarching diagnosis but he was born missing his fibula bone and has a gene mutation that causes neurological problems and life-threatening seizures, sometimes as many as 20 in a single day. There’s just lots of different things going on that impact him.”

“He's a beautiful little boy and his brothers just dote on him.”

Kristy, Jett and the rest of their family are supported by Very Special Kids (VSK), an organisation that helps over 900 families in Victoria who have children with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions. The Whitnell family is the face of the VSK fundraising campaign this year.

“We were referred to VSK from the hospital when Jett was maybe nine months old. They're the only hospice in Victoria. And one of only three in Australia who supports kids up to the age of 18.”

The organisation offers support through counselling, camps, sibling engagement days, hospice relief and family volunteers.

“It is such an amazing organisation and it has made a big difference in our lives. They have so many volunteers and operate purely through fundraising and sponsorship.”

“PwC have been involved with VSK as well, doing pro-bono work including a review of their financial systems, processes and personnel, and a review of the hospice upgrade project, including pathways to help with its completion over the next three years.”

Kristy has been with PwC for over 20 years — and she has no intention of leaving any time soon.

“I think what's kept me here this long is twofold. One is the people, the team environment and the culture and the type of people here. And although people have come and gone, and I’ve taken time off for parental leave, I’ve always felt like I’m part of a team.”

“And the other thing is probably that I’ve never really been bored. I am always challenging myself and I’m able to learn different skills and get involved in different things.”

You can make a donation to Very Special Kids here.

Want to create your career with PwC? Here’s Kristy’s advice:

This may sound cliche, but I think you need to be agile. It’s more than just the technical skills you have, having good soft skills gives you the ability to be agile and learn different technical skills along the way. So the soft skills are equally important as the technical side. You also just need to accept that things are going to change and you have to be open to that and be willing to learn.

Get started on your journey here.

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