I am a proud mother of a seven-month-old girl, but this has not stopped me from progressing in my career. Currently, I hold a COO position in a successful Maltese iGaming company called Kanon Gaming. My daily routine revolves around overlooking the company’s finances, working closely with the marketing team and ensuring that the company is running smoothly together with the CEO.
I got my Master’s Degree in International Studies at the Budapest Business School where I specialised in European Studies. While spending a semester in France with the Erasmus program, I got the taste of travelling and exploring different cultures. After a few years spent on the Hungarian labour market, I decided to move to Malta and join the iGaming world. Together with my partner, we run a successful iGaming company focusing on Sweden, Denmark and other markets.
The industry is heavily male driven, especially across leadership roles and one might have to face more challenges as a woman than her male colleagues would have. There are a lot of pervasive stereotypes us women have to fight every day. We might feel the need to constantly prove our abilities, like we are on trial 24/7. We have to prove we can handle stress and anxiety as much as our male co-workers, and, just because we might be more empathetic, we have to also make sure we are seen to be strict and capable of making hard decisions.
I am responsible for an office of 20-25 employees who joined from all over the world. My main tasks include, but are not limited to, overseeing and managing the different teams, liaising with third parties and the facilitation of communication between the employees and the CEO. Currently, I am also actively involved in the company’s marketing, helping both the CRM team and the designers in their everyday work.
Being a foreigner is also a challenge when it comes to dealing with third parties, even if the industry is heavily built on foreign workers. Since I made the decision to settle down in Malta, I find it extremely important to learn Maltese. Even if English is an official language, understanding and speaking Maltese can make your everyday life much easier and will be appreciated and welcomed by the local community.
Speaking of male – female differences on the labour market, maternity leave makes a female leader also less favourable compared to her male counterpart. While in Malta maternity leave is only three to four months, in Hungary it is two years and can be extended to a third year. It is highly beneficial from a personal perspective; however, it affects women negatively on the labour market. Being ‘out of office’ for years makes it hard to build and maintain a career. Malta is, however, on the other side of the fence. Three months is barely enough to recover and find your feet in this whole new role. Not even mentioning leaving a three or four-month-old baby in childcare and the need of involving the whole family to cover working hours.
While I was on maternity leave, I kept myself updated with the company’s main tasks and goals. The most important element of returning to work was to build a routine which fits both the baby and the company’s needs. Waking up early in the morning was not my own decision, however it gave me a lot of extra time to handle housework before office hours and get us both ready for work. Planning the day and the week ahead is another key ingredient to success. My planning skills have immensely improved since I became a mum and while multitasking has always been perceived as a woman’s domain, it reached a whole new level by juggling a job, running a household and raising a child.
I am in such a lucky position that I can bring my child to the office where one of the rooms got transformed to a childcare room. Our fantastic nanny is taking care of my little one while I am working and having meetings in the room next door. It allows me to concentrate on my tasks instead of worrying about her, and I can also use my breaks to feed her or play with her.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and while it is obviously an exaggeration, you do need help and you have to learn how to accept this help. You will also need a good app or a nice notepad to create to do lists on a daily basis, it will keep you organised and make up for the ‘mum brain’. While certain companies offer home office or hybrid work, I believe you can be much more effective when you are far away from unwashed dishes and the laundry room.
Women who seek a career are often discouraged from having a baby because they are afraid of not being able to find a good work-life balance. It can be overwhelming, you might face high expectations from both yourself and from society, and you can feel drained of energy, yet as a leader and as a mum you learn something very important which will serve you on the way: “There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.” It might sound like a cliche, yet it is very true.
Becoming a mum or having a career should never be mutually exclusive. We have to believe in our own capabilities and follow our dreams no matter if it is having a child, having a career or both.
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