Working Mum Interview Gail Emms

Posted: Tuesday June 21 2016

By: Guest Bloggers


gail-emmsGail Emms is a British badminton player who has achieved international success at the very top of the game. Mum to 2 boys, Harry (born March 2010) and Oliver (born May 2013). A badminton player since the age of four, Gail was first chosen to represent England in 1995, and has regularly played for her country ever since.
Along with partner Nathan Robertson she has been No. 1 in the world at mixed doubles, All England Champion, Commonwealth gold medallist and Olympic silver medallist. Alongside the Olympic success, Emms won gold with Robertson in the World Championships 2006, Commonwealth Games in 2006
and in the 2004 European Championships. Since retiring from the game after the Beijing Olympics, Gail has proved herself as a talented and versatile sports presenter, including stints on Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC 5Live, British Gas Great Swims, Channel 4 Sport, BBC Look East, Eternal Glory, Dancing on Ice Goes Gold, and A Question of Sport.

  • First represented England in 1995 against China
  • 2004 Olympic Silver Medallist Badminton Mixed Doubles – gail-emms-gold-medalNathan Robertson
  • European Champion Mixed Doubles and Ladies Doubles
  • Commonweath Champion Mixed Doubles
  • 2006 World Champion Mixed Doubles
  • 6 times National Mixed Doubles Champion
  • 5 times National Ladies Doubles Champion
  • 68 Caps for England
  • Number 1 in the World Rankings Mixed Doubles 2005 – 2006
  • Awarded MBE in June 2009 for her services to Badminton
  • Awarded Honourary Doctorate by Kingston University in 2009
  • Awarded Master of the University by The Open University 2015
What were or are the biggest challenges you faced going back in to the work place after children?

For me, flexible and affordable childcare was the biggest issue. There seemed to be a shortage of options and the costs are crazy. I didn’t want to offload on my mum either. The challenge was also being 100% prepared for a job which I never was able to achieve.

How do you achieve your work life balance of career woman and mother?

I am lucky that I have a live-in au pair. Because of my hours, it means that I need someone that can be there in the mornings, in the evenings, weekends, whenever the work comes up and often at short notice. I wouldn’t be able to do it without this arrangement.

If you could give your past self-one piece of advice about being a working mother what would it be?

Don’t try and be superwoman – impossible!! Although sometimes I do feel I am not that far off…

Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a working mother from that prior to your children?

Yes – more quality goals rather than quantity. I had very selfish goals pre-children, now I know that this is not an option.

What are your future goals in your career path in the next few years, what do you hope to achieve?

I hope to have a successful consultancy business with flexibility with this so I feel in control and feel empowered to make choices whether it is work or life. The power to have a choice is a big motivating factor with me.

If you had the power to change one thing in the business market for working mothers, what would you change?

A wake-up call for employers to see the talent out there and more 10am to 2pm contracts. To have that flexibility and appreciation that someone is helping will be a benefit to any business.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

Get a mentor. I was stubborn at first and really believed that I wouldn’t need or didn’t need one, but it was the best thing that I did.

If you could recommend one book to our readers leisure or business what would it be?

‘Working Identity’ – Herminia Ibarra. This helped me with transition and changes in identity and I think every working mother goes through the same.

Question from Hannah Corneck BBC Producer – In what ways has been a working mother made you BETTER at your job?

I put things into perspective more. No matter what is going on in work, I go home and my kids are there and no-one cares, they just want me. Mum.

What do you wish to ask our next working mother?

When it gets too much – how do you de-stress?