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Management Parents Trade Talents for Toddler Time

United Press International

Firms seeking high-level interim help can now turn to a pool of “parent track” professionals who offer quality services in return for flexible working conditions that allow them to spend more time with their children.

Highly skilled and educated professionals, especially women, often find full-time work too burdensome and time-consuming once they start raising a family.

Trading talents for toddler time, however, is not always a fully satisfying exchange, especially for those struggling to achieve success in a career.

Enter Marion McGovern and her company, M2 Management Maximizers, offering a high-powered pool of people to fill a virtually unnoticed niche in the job market--project and part-time professionals.

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“We can do for the management staff what Kelly Girls did for the secretarial pool,” says McGovern, 31.

Former Blackjack Dealer

McGovern, of Camden, N.J., was a Las Vegas blackjack dealer before she got her MBA degree from the University of California. She worked in marketing and product development at Crocker Bank and as an associate with a consulting firm.

She gave birth to her daughter, Morgan, 18 months ago and faced a turning point in her career. She said she returned to work and was surprised to find that travel and long hours were not a problem in themselves.

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“It was the unpredictability,” she said. “Not knowing on any given day if I’d have to work until midnight was tough from a child-care standpoint.”

McGovern’s partner, Paula Reynolds, 34, who worked as an account executive with AT&T; until the birth of her first child, Peter, in 1986, is a good example of the kind of employee whose temporary absence requires a flexible business solution.

Reynolds currently is on a four-month maternity leave from M2 after giving birth to her daughter, and her place is being filled by executive search consultant Lili Devereux Pratt, 40, who has two sons, Egan, 4, and Scott, 18 months.

“Our lives are very busy balancing so many roles,” Pratt said. “But it is certainly possible to do it all and with some joy. Flexibility is the key to making it work.”

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McGovern said her agency has a pool of 200 professionals, and initial placements have included everything from start-up companies to huge corporations such as California First Bank, LucasFilms and Pacific Gas & Electric. Currently, she is focusing attention on the health care field.

One 12-hospital system approached M2 to hire a part-time director of finance because its own people did not have enough seniority to be considered for promotion. “This was very forward thinking on their part--we were thrilled,” she said.

One woman, she said, got a permanent flexible position as part of a pilot program of a large financial company. “She could end up working a lot at certain times of the year,” said McGovern, “but be completely flexible the rest of the time.”

About 38% of M2’s personnel pool, said McGovern, have MBAs, including many men--a lot of them are parents but there are others who just want a change of pace, a more flexible life style or a new challenge.

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One man in human resources stays home to do the major parenting because his wife has a better-paying job, she said, but he is seeking free-lance work.

A woman in the pool, she said, has her own business and is looking for firms who need marketing help to sell to the European Common Market when it opens to U.S. products in 1992.

“We have a lot of women MBAs who went into very high-pressure areas and then couldn’t sustain it after they had children,” McGovern said. “Part of the challenge is letting people know the variety of skills we have available--people who are all uniquely qualified.”

McGovern said the fledgling business should gross about $250,000 in 1989, but she projects that figure to increase to as much as $2 million by 1992.

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Pratt, who is working to advance M2’s image in the business community, said it is one of the few companies dedicated to the future needs of employers for project and part-time help at the middle-management and executive levels.

“In a decade, this will be the norm,” she predicted. “For men and women, there will be many ways of working--part-time, sabbaticals, creativity leaves and parental leaves.”


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