Emma Pennington-Foley talks about how she maintains her flexible working hours


EY Australia

PAS Senior Manager Emma Pennington-Foley joined EY in the UK 12 years ago, moving to New Zealand in 2011. When she returned from parental leave in 2017, balancing her work and home life became imperative. 

“I don’t think I would have been able to re-engage with my career as well if EY did not consider a flexible working arrangement when I returned from parental leave. Flexibility is important to me because I have been able to choose working hours which accommodate the demands of family life and my career responsibilities.

Like many parents at EY, Emma prefers to adjust her start and finish times to maximise her family time. “I work a 35 hour week, which enables me to start work at 8am and leave at 3pm most days, subject to client demands. This means that I get home at 4pm and can spend time with my daughter each evening. I can be available to my team for queries during my commute on the train home or to attend to client needs after 6.30pm if necessary. While I often work additional hours due to client/work demands, I recognise that I have struck a balance that makes sense for me and my family due to my 3pm finish time, and EY has been supportive of that.”

Many EY staff are hesitant to discuss adopting flexible working because they are concerned about the reaction of their team, but Emma has found the transition to be relatively smooth. “My team is really understanding of my need to leave the office at 3pm and are mindful of working to my availability when giving me work to review. They also know that they can reach me to talk through really urgent client issues if necessary. We all have a life outside of EY and we have worked to build a team based on mutual trust and understanding around availability to work.” Emma has also managed her relationships with clients and has found that most are reasonable about her flexible working arrangement. “Many of my clients are based overseas and so we get a head start to the day on the NZ time zone, which means I can often respond timely to their requests.”

Emma’s Flexpertise: 

“I think you can approach flexibility as a two-way street, in that the nature of many roles at EY means having to flex to client demands, so trying to be flexible yourself where possible can go a long way to build rapport and trust with colleagues and clients.