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How Chivas Brothers used a job share to retain talent

Rowan Ahmadi-Nameghi (left) and Pam Herries (right) have shared the senior communications role for six months

Leaders of the Scotch whisky company Chivas Brothers, part of the Pernod Ricard Group, have introduced the company's most senior job share yet.

Rowan Ahmadi-Nameghi (RAN) had worked for the Pernod Ricard Group for around eight years, and in the head of internal communications and culture role since January 2021. 

However, as she approached her second maternity leave, she realised she would need to reduce her responsibilities to work three days a week. She approached her manager and HR, and they suggested a job share.

Pam Herries (PH) was taken on to share the job. HR magazine spoke to the pair to hear how they have transitioned into the role, six months in.

Q: How did the job share come about?

RAN: Navigating maternity leave with my second child, I faced a whirlwind of time constraints and nursery bugs. I love my job but I knew it’d be impacted in the new context, and I would need flexibility upon my return.

I proposed a shift in roles and responsibilities to work three days a week. Immediately, HR and my manager suggested a job share – an unexpected twist that I gladly embraced.

Unaware of the company's openness to such innovative solutions, I drafted a proposal, interviewing over 20 people who had worked in, or with, job shares. As we delved deeper, it became clear that a job share was the perfect fit for my role. 

Read more: Job shares are a win for all parties

Q: How does the job share work?

PH: We split our time equally, working three days a week with a critical crossover day on Wednesday. This is the optimum solution so that there is dedicated time for team handovers, knowledge sharing and co-creation.

How did HR support you?

PH: They created regular check ins and have been constantly curious about its impact on us and those around us. We’ve put a lot of pressure on ourselves for this to work for those around us but our HR partner, Paul Hayward, consistently challenged us to be realistic and compassionate with ourselves.

RAN: The HR team has given us permission to trial and fail fast, which has meant we’ve moved quickly in making changes to ways of working, taking decisions and implementing successful systems. Without genuine HR buy in this would have been tough.

Q: Did you encounter any difficulties when starting the job share?

RAN: While all stakeholders were excited about the concept, we had to quickly prove we could make it work. It took months to model and test our systems of work because it was new, and we had to do it on the job.

PH: We did all of this while trying to seamlessly deliver projects. That was the hard bit, and I was also onboarding, getting to know the intricacies of the company and process at large in tandem. 

We created a constant feedback loop with our team, to ensure they were getting what they needed. We adapted as went along, and managed expectations of senior stakeholders and our peers. 

Being in a senior role meant that the spotlight was on us. However we both take this seriously and are lucky to have such an open and inclusive board, line manager and team.

Read more: Legal ease: Flexible working update for April 2024

Q: How has the job share impacted your experience at Chivas?

RAN: I feel valued, and that work cares enough to find solutions that keep me in the mix. It’s tough as a mum returning; I’m ambitious and realistic but have always assumed that if I had children it would negatively impact my career. Chivas Brothers wanted to prove otherwise, and they have.

Q: What has the organisation learned from the job share?

RAN: Flexible working and inclusivity are at the top of our business agenda, so seeing two women in this shared position will undoubtedly send a very positive message to existing and future teammates.

PH: As this is such a new working arrangement, we’ll have to see, but internally we’re already hearing interest and curiosity from internal talent.

RAN: In turn, we’re hoping this positive ripple effect starts impacting recruitment processes, particularly now we have proven systems, ways of working and insights to share.