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Let’s celebrate working mothers this Mother’s Day

As we continue our focus on sharing about some of the women who work with Infosys Portland, I thought Jacqui’s story can be our nod to Mother’s Day. It seems a particularly good fit since the first career role Jacqui has had, after being out of the workforce for 15 months with her baby daughter, is with us. I am very proud to share her story.

From Argentina to Australia with a career cartwheel

A desire to change geography sparked more change for consultant Jacqueline Cudero.

Moving from Argentina to Australia has been life-changing for me and my partner. As has, having a child. And changing careers too. All three changes have been overwhelmingly positive for me but that doesn’t mean they have been without their challenges. Sometimes it does feel like gymnastics!

I started my career in Buenos Aires after completing a degree in International Hotel Management. In the hotel industry, I had a variety of roles, from being a waitress and a receptionist to even supporting marketing.

However, like many others, I had second thoughts and returned to study part-time. This time I undertook a degree in Business Administration, which seemed to better satisfy my appetite for analysis and problem-solving.

While studying, I started working with Ericsson, initially as a travel assistant – leveraging my hotel experience to get my foot in the door – and then I progressed to a permanent role in project support. I was so pleased.

After two years I successfully applied for an analyst role with Accenture in a client financial management team. I was soon promoted to Senior Client Financial Management. Not only was I pleased with my progress, but I was much more confident that I had a good head for business and problem-solving.

Looking back, now I realise that my perspective was expanding. My horizons were widening and so, it was normal that I wanted to travel and work overseas. At the time, it was an itch, and thankfully, my partner had it too.

Australia, here we come

After three years with Accenture, we decide to split and head for Australia. All we knew was we wanted a change and only planned to stay and work for a year.

Australia had other plans. And we soon fell in love with the country. The people, the lifestyle, the climate, and natural beauty. Today, I especially cherish how multicultural Melbourne and Sydney are.

Because we started off on what was essentially a working holiday, I wasn’t thinking about a career role, so I looked for and found good work in the hospitality industry, and I have always had a passion for customer service, so I was pretty happy.

I should mention that during one stage of my cartwheeling career changes, I also spent time working on a farm soon after arriving in Australia. It was hard, hot work and I thought I’d made a huge mistake. But I soon realised it was a unique experience. I learned a lot about sharing, being independent, and not needing much to be happy.

And here comes the baby

Once my partner and I decided we wanted to stay we also started thinking of family and before we knew it, we had a baby girl. Boy, do they change things!

We’d decided that I’d leave work for 18 months, while my partner stayed hard at it in the construction industry. When I decided it was time to go back to work, resuming my business career was Plan A.

I was anxious that my time out of the workforce put me at a disadvantage. I now realise this is a very common, albeit unfounded, fear many women have. The truth is that 18 months of motherhood makes you a much more competent manager than 18 months at work could ever do. We become elite management gymnasts!

Thankfully, Portland seemed to recognise this too and I joined the firm as a procurement consultant last year. As the Aussies say, I am stoked.

I’m doing interesting work. I’m getting extremely valuable and constructive feedback from our senior people, which is enabling me to stay right on top of projects, and I’m managing the constantly dynamic work-life balance.

Without overdoing the gymnastics analogy, I find that provided I plan ahead, make contingencies and communicate effectively with my partner and coaches, the moves all come together. It may not be an Olympic-level vault, but it can be impressive to watch. At least my partner thinks so.

Of course, it must be noted that my starting a family and returning to a business role all happened during Covid. And we’d been long enough into Covid for the entire business community to realise that not being in the office did not have a negative influence on productivity. Today, we at Portland, like so many other professional services firms, are embracing a hybrid work week.

To me, a hybrid work pattern is something many women have always wanted. Covid gave men the opportunity to experience it too and now we all recognise that we can find better ways to work.

What's next? I'll let you know. Right now, I'm having the time of my life.

How good is that as a Mother’s Day story. The thing I like most in Jacqui’s experience is her working on a farm. How many of us have done that? I can only imagine the challenges and fun that might bring. What is easier to understand is how she and her partner love the multiculturalism of Australia. This diversity is a great strength, not only to our society but also to our workforce.

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