31 January 2017
Jenny Hardy, Gowling WLG's Strategic Development director, has been listed on Timewise's Power Part-Time List. Jenny is now the fourth woman at Gowling WLG to have been named, following partners Sue Dearden, Sarah Sasse and Davinia Gransbury in 2015, 2014 and 2013 respectively.
As well as identifying and delivering opportunities for strategic growth in the UK and internationally, Jenny has overall responsibility for business development and is a member of the firm's International Board.
She works a flexible four-day week to accommodate the demands of her business role and her home life. And although she is based in the UK, her role often involves overseas travel. Flexibility is, and always has been, hugely important both to her and to the needs of the business, with both sides recognising the practicality and necessity of Jenny being available when needed and shifting her non-working day to accommodate this.
It was also a non-negotiable part of the interview process. Jenny was hired on a part-time basis when she first joined the firm with very young children and, she is keen to point out, has never been made to feel that working part-time makes her a less valuable member of the Leadership team.
She said: "Agile working is important to Gowling WLG, so this recognition, for myself and Sue, Sarah and Davinia over the last few years, is a clear sign that we are embracing this way of working. For me, the key to working in an agile way is to recognise that you have to build your week around the needs of the business. There are times when you simply have to be available, and the trade-off is knowing that there can be some 'give' for the demands of home life."
There have been two occasions when Jenny has increased her hours to full-time – the 2014 merger between legacy firms Wragge & Co and Lawrence Graham, and the 2016 combination between Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co and Gowlings.
"It was obvious to me that the demands of the business at the time required me to work full-time, and I was happy to do so," Jenny adds. "Once the merger and combination had taken full effect and everything was running smoothly, our CEO, David Fennell, was fully supportive of me returning to my original part-time arrangement. There was no requirement or expectation that I would continue to work full-time."
The Power Part-Time Top 50 is an annual list compiled by Timewise, the aim of which is to create role models, emphasise that flexible working is both possible and practical, and debunk the myth that people cannot work a top-level job on a part-time or flexible basis.