Jen Wilson is the Chief People Officer at Holo, a FinTech company on a mission to make home buying as simple as possible.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to
In my early teens I used to leave school early to work. I had 3 jobs and as a 14 year old I was earning pretty good money which I would blow on nice stuff, but it gave me a taste of how working hard was rewarding and I quickly realised that I needed to combine some kind of skill whilst earning money so I trained to be a hairdresser through an apprenticeship program.
After completing the course, I realised it wasn’t the career route for me so I went into office work. My career started as a PA in Tech which gave me a wealth of experience within large organisations such as Cisco and Dimension Data.
Working for these companies gives you exposure to what is possible, in terms of your career and seeing what the world has to offer. In 2008, I moved to Dubai and I’m currently the Chief People Officer for Holo, a digital mortgage platform.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
No two days are the same here at Holo HQ! We are a young company founded in 2019, but our organic growth means we are constantly evolving, which is exciting but also challenging at times when we are navigating the unknowns. I’m up at 6am with my son to get him ready for nursery and then head into the office.
My husband works in another country so effectively I’m a married single parent holding down a full-time job. We are constantly hiring here at Holo so we focus on finding great talent who fit within our culture. We pride ourselves on being Team Holo, where every single employee plays a vital role in how we operate. Forming strong bonds with colleagues and an ego-free working environment, something we will never compromise on.
We are also starting operations in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and digitalising our HR functions to enable us to not only offer digital services to our clients, but also for our employees. It’s a really varied role and we all wear multiple hats here in order to achieve the vision of the company. We invest into the company and the intrinsic rewards are what motivate you to keep pushing.
When my work day ends, it’s a mad dash to get home and spend some quality time with my son doing the dinner, bath and bedtime routine. When he is asleep my evenings will either be studying, chores or working.
It’s fair to say I have zero social life during the week, but I have some great supportive friends I catch up with at weekends who all muck in and help or give me a little break so I don’t have to hide in the bathroom to get 5 minutes peace and quiet! (lots of mums nodding at this)
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it
It’s not easy, and I have so much respect for single parents who work full time jobs and function. The stay at home mum role wasn’t for me. My son was born on the first day of lockdown here in Dubai in 2020, and whilst it was amazing to have uninterrupted time together as a family and the support of my husband, I realised that I quickly forgot what life was like on the outside, it unnerved me and I knew I wanted to go back to work.
Not only do I contribute financially to our futures, but also to my wellbeing, by keeping my brain active. Post-COVID, employees changed their mindset about work-life balance and placed a bigger emphasis on carving out time to enjoy what life has to offer, that’s so important because it passes us by so quickly and I want to make memories and be present.
I realised that I can’t be a perfectionist and accept that as long as I do the best I can in my job as well as being a wife and mum then I’m happy. I’m not out to be a trail-blazer, I want to promote women’s advancement in the workplace by showcasing our amazing ability to multi-task and “double shift” and get the recognition deserved for raising the future generation of workforce whilst we actively contribute to the success of our organisations as female executives.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
I massively cut back on my alcohol intake. I know that’s such a boring answer but it made a big difference, not just financially but to my quality of life. Dubai is renowned for its brunches where you can drink copious amounts of booze with no shortage of invites for the uptake each weekend, but waking up with a hangover and a child is simply horrendous! Making the most of the weekends means hitting the beach, staycations and pool days where you maximise what Dubai truly has to offer.
We also introduced a half day Friday at work, which really contributes to enriching my work-life balance, whether it be sorting out life admin or running errands, allowing the weekend to be focused on family and friends. I really have to be super organised in order to run an efficient household and keep on top of things so it doesn’t spill over into my work time and distract me.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
I was recommended a book called The Chimp Paradox and it retrained my brain on how I approach everyday scenarios and situations in order to achieve success, confidence and happiness. Your emotional response (the chimp) always kicks in first but outcomes can be very different if you can train your brain to use the logical side (the human). It’s thought provoking and really makes you question your behaviours and actions.
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Be the best version of yourself for you, and no one else. What you see on social media isn’t real and I won’t fall into the trap of feeling that I’m not successful, driven or pretty enough. I’m me and I’m happy when I’m surrounded by the ordinary, which is actually extraordinary.
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