17 November, 2017


Rob and Dougie both joined M&S full time in 2008.

Rob already had Retail Management experience in a toy shop concession and had previously worked as a part-time Sales Assistant at our Inverness store while at school. He was attracted to our Graduate Management scheme, seeing our professional training as the platform to become a better leader. Dougie, on the other hand, had a baptism of fire in Clothing & Home at our Gyle store, where we were holding a mega ‘20% off everything’ event, a major operation to shift stock and only five weeks before Christmas.

The years passed. Both stayed with M&S as promotions and the ongoing support of managers meant we continued to meet their career aspirations. But in recent times, both have taken on family responsibilities which have culminated in their now sharing the role of Commercial Manager in Clothing & Home at our Edinburgh Princes Street store.

“I’m primary carer for my one-year-old daughter, Lily,” Rob explains. “I wanted to continue in my role but also have the flexibility to look after her. People went out of their way to make things happen. I took a career break for seven months before being offered the job-share arrangement. I now have the exact work-life balance I wanted. I love my job, it’s a 20-minute walk from home and there are some great people here, but I can also spend quality time with my lovely girl.”

Dougie has a similar story to tell: “A couple of years ago, my wife and I became full-time guardians to our two young nieces. Two months ago, we became parents ourselves – so having gone from just being the two of us, we now have a family of five! The prospect of job sharing became increasingly attractive. My Store Manager knew my circumstances and was very receptive to the suggestion.”

Three months in, and the job sharing is working out, suiting both parties. Both would like to continue working on this basis for the time being, although reverting to full time may be on the cards when the children have completed primary school.

“It’s great that Rob and I had both done the job previously full time and a lot of people at Princes Street remembered Rob on his return,” says Dougie. “It’s nice to have someone doing the same role as you so you can bounce ideas off them and learn from their perspectives. I can go on holiday knowing that everything will run smoothly.”

Job sharing needs to be weighed up carefully by all concerned. As a business, we need to know we can accommodate the arrangement; potential job sharers need to consider the hit it will take on the pocket. Of course, it’s still the case that fewer men than women take up job sharing, but both Rob and Dougie think it’s an option well worth considering if available.

“Lily hasn’t had to join a nursery, which means she’s been able to form a closer relationship both with me and with her maternal grandparents who live nearby. In terms of nursery costs against lost salary, I’m only losing out slightly working part time,” says Rob.

Despite having home responsibilities both Rob and Dougie throw themselves into the M&S culture and want to achieve more. Rob’s proud to have recently created some videos and DVDs to celebrate store-specific and regional achievements; Dougie loves the buzz of the store and the interaction with different customers.

And, would you believe it, they both manage to put aside a bit of ‘me time’ – for a round of golf in Dougie’s case, or in Rob’s, adding to his collection of ‘Star Wars geekery’

M&S is proud to be able to support a range of flexible working options and we believe our people perform at their best when they are able to balance life at home and life at work.

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