Kate Milligan, National Head of New Business and Marketing, PHD
The PHamily Leap is an initiative that PHD brought in, post-COVID, to allow its employees that were from other countries to reunite with their families for a longer period via a mix of work from home and holiday. Open to any member of the PHD Australia team, the initiative is an opportunity to reconnect at a personal level and establish stronger ties to the business across multiple markets.
Kate Milligan, PHD’s National Head of New Business & Marketing, is one of the first employees to take up this opportunity, spending six weeks back in the UK after nearly three years of not seeing family and friends. A lot has happened in those two years for Kate, so this return home was more than just a reunion, but an opportunity to share many important life milestones with those she loves most.
As anyone who was kept away from family and friends during COVID knows, it was tough never knowing when you were going to see them again. Whether it be 5k limits, border closures nationally or internationally, it affected a huge proportion of the population for a prolonged period. My story was thankfully not one of sadness, but the ever-changing date of when the borders would open played heavily on my mind. Mark Jarret, our CEO, called a meeting late last year to let us know that he was bringing in the PHamily Leap initiative.
The news had me burst into tears with relief at knowing I would finally be able to go home and see people again.
The PHamily leap was such an amazing opportunity for me as a LOT happened in my life since March 2020 when we started our first lockdown. As someone who usually sees family twice a year, I found it hard to be stuck in Sydney without an end in sight. There is a weird low-level anxiety you ignore and put to the back of your mind, which, when you find out you are going to travel and see people again, lifts a huge weight off your shoulders that you did not really know you were carrying.
When I go home, I affectionately refer to it as the ‘Northern tour’ as my parents live on opposite sides of the country to each other, my aunts and uncles in Yorkshire and my friends mostly in London, so it is a lot to cram into 2-3 weeks.
During COVID I met my partner, now fiancé and father-to-be of our first child, who is from Ireland – so there was going to be a lot of places to visit, celebrations to be had (I will have the no-secco please), wedding venues to check out and introductions to new family and friends which we crammed into that now 6-week period. I even made it home for my Nanna’s 99th birthday (Marks & Spencers cake and sandwiches for the Anglophiles amongst us) and to tell her my happy news face to face, which was a real highlight.
So, between Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Mallorca, and the Wild Atlantic Way, I made it to PHD’s Global HQ in London to have a week in the office. As I am new in my role, I got to meet our amazing Global counterparts who gave me introductions to different team members and their roles, and we shared work that could be used in Australia and vice versa. I came away feeling inspired and empowered to bring those ideas home. I am always a fan of meeting people face to face, it really helps to build the relationship and makes it easier to communicate over emails and video calls in future.
I’m fortunate to have had travel opportunities in my career in the past, but this initiative opens the door for all levels to access which would have never been possible pre-pandemic. Working with other markets and seeing different ways of operating and growing your network is a huge learning and development opportunity that all levels and functions can now access.
Following PHD HQ, I worked from my Mum and Dad’s for the following two weeks before getting on the plane home. I worked on a 6am – 3pm workday so I would have time to check in with Australia but also spend time with family and friends in the afternoon / evenings.
So, the wedding is planned, family and friends have been introduced to fiancés, the baby and engagement has been celebrated and thankfully visits to Australia are back in the diary again.
The PHamily leap provided me, and will provide the 20 people who have already signed up, an ability to develop professionally, while reconnecting with loved ones on a personal level. We’ve all felt like our personal life was put on hold for two years and in many ways that also impacted professional development. The PHamily leap allow me to get back to both in one trip. It’s something truly unique for an agency to offer.
I will be forever grateful to PHD for the extended period at home to make up that long-lost time COVID took away from us.