Jobs for Mums talks to Ethel Vento Zahra. Ethel works a full time job, two part time jobs, she is a wife, a Mum, a cancer fighter! You cannot imagine how she does it all? We didn't either but now we know.
Read along and find out how this working Mum juggles her life between clinic appointments, being a lecturer at University, a wife, a mum and a business woman all in one.
She says ''Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters'' and we cannot agree more.
Name and Surname: Ethel Vento Zahra
Relationship status: Married
Children: Leah - 4 years old
Work status: FT at Dental Public Health Unit, PT lecturer at University of Malta and PT Self-employed
I was always a very scientifically oriented individual and I knew from a very young age which career I wanted. I graduated with a degree in Dental Surgery at the University of Malta in 2003 and then went on to read for a Masters programme at the same University, which I completed in 2007.
Tell us something about yourself. Career background. Hobbies. Anything.
I thrive on activity. I am always on the go, if not work, its’ running around with my daughter to and from activities, or organising outings with friends, or cooking up a storm whenever the mood hits. Wherever I am, I always have music and a book to fill up any “spare” time. I am hopefully a cancer survivor (hopefully since I am still undergoing treatment).
Tell us about your Company/ Business?
My sister Yvette and I are business partners at Xarolla Dental Clinic. We opened our doors 12 years ago, and moved to our new premises two years ago. We, together withour associates, aim to provide quality, caring dental services within a beautiful relaxing environment using the latest technology.
How did your career change when you became a Mum?
Once I went back into work after my maternity leave, I reduced the hours I worked in private practice and at University. I also found that I somehow became a much more effective time manager, to try to fit in all that I do around my daughter’s schedule.
When and why did you choose to go back to work?
I chose to go back to work as I feel the need to work for my sanity (and possibly even for my family’s sanity). I love spending time with my daughter, but when I am at home full time for a long period of time, I find it very frustrating to not be occupying my mind with other things. I need the time away from home, doing my own thing.
How do you and your child spend time together?
I try to work as little as I can in the hours that my daughter is not at school. I drop my daughter off to school every day on my way to work. I work mornings and two afternoons during the week. The rest of the time during the week and the weekend are all dedicated to my daughter and her activities.
You seem really busy! How do you manage work and family?
It has become much easier ever since my daughter started school. I manage primarily because I have a lot of help from my family. My parents pick my daughter up from school every day and take care of her until I pick her up or until my husband gets home when I work in the afternoon. I wouldn’t manage my current workload without their help. I try to use my time wisely by doing my paperwork and corrections during nap times and after bedtime.
In what ways do you allow your work life and home life to overlap?
I try not to let them overlap much. I do my paperwork at home, but I try to confine it to times where it doesn’t interfere with my home life that much.
What are your greatest professional strengths and achievements?
My greatest professional strengths are my determination in doing a job and doing it well. My greatest professional achievements to date have been moving to our clinic’s new premises and working with a great team of people, something I am very proud of. Another big achievement is being one of 5 researchers who undertook an enormous project – The National Oral Health Survey – which has been carried out in children in Malta over the past 3 years, the data from which is currently in the last stages of being analysed and published.
What motivates you?
My motivation is my family. My aim is to make the most of every day I have with them and make sure that we all live life to the full, as much as possible.
Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working Mum today?
I think it all depends on your personal situation. It is easier for some, more difficult for others. With my job in particular, there is only so much flexibility you can have since it is not the type of work that can be done from anywhere or anytime during the day. There have certainly been improvements in some workplaces with flexibility being introduced in working hours and also with the government’s free childcare scheme, but I believe there is still a lot that can be done when it comes to employing a working mum.
Why should an employer not think twice about employing a Mum?
I believe that most mums are great multitaskers and problem solvers, and tend to give their all to the task at hand. I believe that these benefits offset the possible downsides of an employee needing to take time off to care for their children, sometimes at short notice
Can women have it all? What advice would you have for Mums striving to do it all?
I believe that yes you can have it all, with the right support from your partner. If you are striving to do it all, aim to strike a balance between doing it all and finding some time for yourself – something which we tend to ignore in favour of all the other things we need to do.
What is the best parenting advice to give to working Mums or those looking to return to the work force?
Learn to not expect too much of yourself. We tend to be our harshest critics. You cannot keep up the same home schedule as when you were at home full time. Try to plan well and use your time well, and do not try to fit in more than what is reasonable into your day’s plan.
If you had to live your life over again, what’s the one thing you would have done differently as a working Mum?
I wouldn’t be so self critical with respect to the quantity vs the quality of time I spend with my daughter due to my working hours. It is something I have overcome now - 4 years later, but which I found very difficult not to feel guilty about in the beginning.
One of my favourite quotes related to the topic “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”. My favourite life quote “Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters”
Jobs for Mums Malta - Katja Dingli Bennetti