Selena Gildea talks to Lovin Malta about moving to Malta, starting a new career, and getting pregnant right when things were kicking off.
To be honest I’m not one of those women who’s always dreamed of having children. In my early twenties I would have said I didn’t want to have any. A lot of it has to do with finding the right person – at least it was for me. I’m now thirty-six and have been with my fiancé for seven years. We’ve been through a lot during that time of course.
We’re both Irish and we moved to Malta in 2014; we’re blessed to have really found our feet here. We knew that there would never be a ‘perfect time’ but that we are finally in a position now to provide a steady, happy and healthy environment for our children.
I have been working with Paddy Power Betfair since November 2014. I started off as a Customer Service Agent, progressed to Shift Lead about a year later and was successful in securing my current role as Fraud Analyst in May this year. We have people from all over the world working here, which makes it very diverse and interesting, but the majority are Maltese.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the most generous, funny, kind and down-to-earth people I’ve ever known through work. When living in other countries around the world, I always had people comment on how friendly Irish people are and I truly feel the same can be said for the Maltese.
On the very same day that I found out I had got the job as Fraud Analyst, I discovered I was pregnant.
It was a shock, but a beautifully joyous one. I was already extremely emotional as you could imagine, so when I got the call from my soon-to-be new boss it took a lot not to break out in tears on the phone! I now had two reasons to be absolutely over the moon and even contemplated telling my new manager what I had just learned then, as I didn’t want to start off by keeping anything from her. It just wasn’t feasible though of course – I knew it was far too early, as so many things can go wrong, especially in the early stages of pregnancy.
When the time came, at just over 3 months, I was actually a lot more nervous to tell my boss I was expecting than I was during the interview process. It crossed my mind that she would think that I knew this before applying for the job and the last thing I wanted was for her, or my team, to think I had kept anything from them. I’m a big believer in everyone pulling their own weight in a team and I definitely didn’t want to receive any special treatment or concessions. My fear was certainly unfounded because my manager was genuinely delighted for me.
I’m extremely lucky that the company I work for have a very comprehensive and lengthy maternity leave policy. We receive twenty-six weeks ordinary maternity leave at full pay, as well as twelve weeks additional unpaid maternity leave. Since I’m having twins, there’s a high chance they’ll arrive early, so my maternity leave starts four weeks before their due date.
*Maltese law states "A pregnant employee can resort to maternity leave for an uninterrupted period of eighteen weeks. The first fourteen weeks are paid by the employer but the weeks beyond the first fourteen weeks are not paid by the employer" - Department for Industrial & Employment Relations.
My partner works in recruitment, so thankfully he can work from home sometimes. The timing has worked out really well because he’ll be able to take a few weeks off over Christmas. We have no family in Malta, so we don’t have the luxury of having that support system on call. Therefore it’s imperative for me to be able to take substantial time off to bond with and nurture our babies.
It’s an enormous relief to not have to worry about our finances for the foreseeable future.
I can’t imagine the stress that would be on us both as a couple if I didn’t have the assurance that I can go back to work eventually. Working from home wouldn’t be my cup of tea. I prefer separating the two into ‘family’ and ‘home’ life. I also enjoy the structure and comradery that comes with working in a company – the team atmosphere is always a good incentive for me to do my very best at my job.
I’m already slightly apprehensive about returning to work because it’s an industry that’s very fast-paced and dynamic. I’m also sure my priorities will shift considerably once I have two little infants to look after though. My employers have been very supportive and encouraging in this new adventure in my life and have assured me that I will be kept informed of current affairs and any new positions that may open up in my absence.
What worries me the most is feeling like a ‘newbie’ when I return to work, but I know that there are many things I can do to pre-empt this; like keeping in touch with my co-workers socially when I find the time and keeping up-to-date with any major team or company changes. I can also come and visit the office with the twins every once in a while - to physically say hello and make sure nobody forgets about me!
I think I’ll personally have changed quite significantly by the time I return to work. However I don’t believe this will have any bearing on, or change my commitment to my work.
My work ethic, luckily, has been instilled in me since I was a child and applies to the way I approach every aspect of life and each new challenge. If anything, I can see myself working extra hard when I return to get myself back up to speed and fill in any knowledge gaps.
I believe that restricting maternity leave and making it hard for women to start a family after having established herself as a valid member of the company serves as ‘shooting themselves in the foot’, so to speak. There’s no question that women have the ability to be successful in both of their jobs, if that’s the route they choose – their work and home careers. Most women provide a unique sense of balance, perspective and professionalism to any business environment and denying both her and the company of that just because she has chosen to start a family is, to me, destructive all round.
I think we need only look to countries like the U.S. as an example of how not having maternity leave doesn’t work. Unless companies in the U.S. voluntarily offer maternity leave, it essentially doesn’t exist for the majority of women. I don’t think this ethos provides any incentive for working mothers to return to work after they’ve had children. But, more importantly, nor does it seem like an ‘attractive’ prospect for most to even start a family, as they feel they have to choose between the two – either a career or a family.
I think in this day and age it’s up to each and every individual couple to make up their minds about whatever works best for their family.
Depending on circumstances, both parents working may be essential financially but there are plenty of cases now where the mother is the ‘bread winner’ and the father stays at home – or vice versa.
When I’m settled back into work following my maternity leave, my long-term plan would be to move up the ladder within the Fraud Management team. I’m choosing to go back to work after having children because it’s the most financially viable option for us as a family at the moment. I also love to work and I particularly love the job I have at the moment. I thrive on constantly being challenged and learning new things. I’m sure motherhood will be the biggest challenge yet but I’m ready to take on whatever’s thrown at me (literally!).