Nicola is a children’s author, PR strategist and professional photographer who lives in Surrey, UK. With a career spanning more than 23 years both as a journalist and as a multi-award winning Communications professional, she has been responsible for many of the highest value campaigns in digital television. She is also the founder of Working Mum Association, and cites the day her son was born as the moment when she decided to overhaul her life (for the better!)

Tell us a bit about you as a mum

I think it is fair enough to say I was always career focused, until I spent some time with one of my friend’s little girls and knew that I wanted to start a family. J took a while to come along, but when he did, he completely changed everything. Initially I felt as if I completely lost my own identity as being a mum was all consuming. Without any family close by, it took a lot to get used to such a big overnight change – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. A few months after he was born, J inspired me to write my debut children’s picture book. I want him to grow up knowing that his mum works hard but is also there for him as much as I possibly can be. I would like to think that we’re very close.

Tell us about your current job

I am just about to finish working for BBC Worldwide, where I’ve been overseeing the publicity remit for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The role covers 120 countries, and there has been a fair amount of international travel involved. Now that my contract is coming to an end I can concentrate on publishing my second book, running my photography business and of course supporting like-minded working mums through the WMA.

How easy have you found being a working mum?

I have always worked hard and within weeks of J being born, I was organising new-born photoshoots and ensuring that I was still photographing weddings. It’s fair to say that keeping the photography business running whilst I was on maternity leave from my full time role, helped me in terms of being away from J later on. Trying to combine everything has been difficult at times, not least when he’s been unwell or I’ve been stuck in traffic and not been able to get to the nursery to pick him up on time. I found that there was a lack of support for mums who were going through what I was, which is why the Working Mum Association has been launched. The most important thing that a working mum should know (aside from how amazing she is), is that she is not alone!

How have you found trying to balance being a mum with your current role?

It has been tough because there are so many times when I just want to be around, but haven’t been able to be. International travel has also been really hard especially when you Skype and are asked where you are and when you’re coming home. Now I’m hoping that I will be able to find more of a balance and can concentrate further on writing my books, building up the photography business, and of course running the WMA.

What has kept you going throughout your journey so far?

It would have to be my son and striving to give him the best life that I possibly can. That and I’m guiding him to understand that if you dream about something, then you can achieve it with consistent action and hard work.

What advice would you offer anyone who is about to return to work after having a child?

It can be tough at first because your colleagues won’t understand when you have to leave the office on the dot for the nursery run, or you have to leave because they’re unwell. They also won’t understand how much harder it is for you now to socialise, because it means you will miss bath time / bedtime. The best way I found to cope was to focus on the positives. By looking at your situation positively and being thankful for everything you have, really does help.

What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you about combining motherhood with a job?

I don’t remember receiving any advice about this. I just know that I feel there isn’t enough support out there for working mums, and I’m hoping that the Working Mum Association will go even a little way to help redress this.

Anything else you would like our members to know about you?

My second children’s picture book called James and the Birthday Balloon is going to be published at the start of November and I’m currently writing a Middle Grade book, which two leading literary agents have told me they want to see, when it’s finished. Needless to say for the next few months, I will be keeping my head down until it’s finished.