When this subject comes up - how to keep your career on track as a working mum - you expect to hear the word ‘barriers’.

But listening to Oriana Hills, senior manager in the risk advisory department at KPMG in the Crown Dependencies and mother-of-two, all you hear is the word ‘support’:

‘The great thing about KPMG is the flexibility,’ she said. ‘I can work full-time because I can literally pick it up and put it down. If I get a call because one of the kids is sick, I can open my laptop in the evening and make up the time.

‘I can’t stress enough how powerful that is: you have this huge sector of the workforce with the capacity to access full-time employment and opportunities by having the right tools and leadership attitudes.’

Flexibility unlocks the potential for working parents, or anyone with caring responsibilities, to thrive in senior leadership roles and keep progressing their careers.

‘It’s been normalised,’ said Plaxedes Mutema, senior manager in the audit department. ‘No one says that you have to be in the office at 9am and leave at 5pm.

‘Our top leadership are doing it as well, which helps you to understand that yes, I can do it myself. For me that is very empowering.’

It might be an overused word, but when Plax and Oriana accidentally say the word ‘empowering’ at the same time, in unison, it lands with a little more weight.

Plax grew up and qualified as an accountant in Zimbabwe, coming to the island in 2018 to join KPMG as an audit senior in their Isle of Man office. As both a financial services hub and a safe environment for raising children, the Isle of Man was the perfect place to maximise both work and family life.

‘In a high pressure environment like audit, it seems like only one can win,’ she said. ‘You can either be very focused on your work, or very focused on your home life. I'm here as a testament to say it is possible to do both. When you're in the right environment, and when you have the right support at work, it is doable.’

Plax was recently appointed as the Isle of Man audit departmental senior manager, putting her at the heart of driving the culture of the company:

‘It opened me up to see a passion that I never actually realised before, which is a focus on people,’ she said. ‘Is there more that we should be doing to equip and retain our people, is there more that we can do to retain working parents, or people with caring responsibilities?’

‘That’s a very big step in itself because it's not just about the client delivery, it's about the culture in the office and who we are as KPMG.’

Oriana, meanwhile, with two decades of experience working in both the public and private sectors in the Isle of Man, has seen huge changes in the work-place first-hand.

‘Covid gave employers the impetus that they needed to really come into the 21st century, using technology to provide access to those previously locked out of opportunities.

‘You see women and minorities being given a seat at the table more and more, which they weren't necessarily afforded before due to lack of opportunity. It’s a real sea change.’

After previously balancing part-time work with childcare, Oriana bucked the trend by returning to full-time work with KPMG in 2022. The key, she says, is the flexibility to manage a full-time role and career.

‘KPMG is really focused on making sure that the people who want to be at the table are empowered to be. Where people get to enjoy a challenging career and also get the most from their personal lives.’