Working part-time as a dad and manager – can it be done? Alex Bergen has been showing us how for some time!
Alex is the father of two children, manager of the Controlling team at PROMOS consult and works part-time with 80 percent of the usual working hours. He set up the Controlling department at PROMOS many years ago and, among other things, laid the foundations for part-time working. It’s clear that things are not always easy being a dad, manager and part-time worker. Read the interview to find out why he decided to do so and what path he took to get there.
You’re a dad and part-time manager at the same time. So you have a lot on your plate! How are you getting on at the moment?
Alex: Professionally, things are going very well. With two children, private life can of course be challenging at times. Firstly, though, it’s a great help that PROMOS gives me considerable flexibility through part-time work and the option of working from home. Secondly, I am actively supported by my team and generally by the HR department. My wife and I also help each other out at home.
Did you realise right away that you would like to work part-time as a father, or was it more of a process of realisation?
Alex: Yes, my son had already been born when I joined PROMOS as a working student 14 years ago in the area of consulting. When I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, I was already a father of two and had the opportunity to first go on to do a Master’s degree. However, PROMOS had at that time offered me the chance of setting up the Controlling department in what was then still a young company. I was very grateful for their confidence in my potential and the opportunity to take on such responsibility directly after doing a Bachelor’s degree. I was especially pleased that they responded to my life situation and offered me the opportunity to adjust working on the project to part-time to suit my particular circumstances. What’s more, I was able to organise my monthly hours in accordance with my family situation. For example, it was sometimes necessary to work full time one week, then only work a few hours a day the next. Later on, it was also no problem to switch to working just four days a week, which is what I still do today.
Be honest now: Did you have to abandon implicit gender roles to begin with?
Alex: Not at all, actually. But that’s probably because I had never been influenced in that way by my own family history. Regardless of gender roles, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to consciously devote as much time as possible to my children. Coming home exhausted in the evening with a ‘leave me in peace’ attitude was completely out of the question.
Do you feel as if you are actually taking the same professional responsibility working part-time?
Alex: Definitely! What is perhaps special about my case is that the framework conditions for my position as head of Controlling were proactively designed so that I can take responsibility while working part-time. Back then, I was one of the first to get a part-time contract and the opportunity to work from home. It was then nice to see that my work model got the ball rolling and that more and more employees had the opportunity to shape their work-life balance in line with their individual needs.
How did you approach PROMOS consult in asking to work part-time? What was their reaction?
Alex: In my situation at the time, the reduced and flexible working hours were crucial for me for organising my everyday life and I communicated that clearly right from the start. Jens responded with a great deal of understanding and it was no problem to work less than 40 hours.
How have people reacted in general – both in your private life and at work? Are there even some who are critical?
Alex: I haven’t received any criticism whatsoever. Everyone is very supportive, in both my private and professional environment. Thanks to this support and the positive reactions, I am very flexible and can also react spontaneously to events, which helps me a lot. Of course, it also takes a great deal of structure, planning and focus. I often have to weigh up different options and set priorities. In general, though, the topics in the team at PROMOS and in the team at home are shared very well. We pay attention to each other’s needs and communicate accordingly. That obviously helps me to juggle the two different roles.
Looking back, what would you advise your former self to do when you had just learned that you were going to be a dad?
Alex: I would advise my former self to simply dare to seize any opportunities as they come and see what is the best solution for everyone involved in the situations that arise.
Being a father has been, and still is, an important component of my life and has always had priority. The same applies to my professional career. So, since I really wanted to do both tasks, I simply took on lots of challenges, confident that I was up to it. As soon as I reached the point where I couldn’t manage something on my own or wasn’t getting any further, I asked for help – either professionally or in my private life. I strongly advise everyone else to do the same!
Looking back, I feel that I have done a lot of things right and that my approach has worked well. It is impossible to predict and plan everything. I can only try to do what is right at any particular moment and not lose sight of what I could do even better.
As not only the children but also PROMOS grew, the demands placed on me and my demands of the job changed. Many new structures have been established at PROMOS over the years. The tasks and projects have become bigger and the team has therefore also grown, with the result that I had a lot of support. I am very grateful for that.
Thank you, Alex, for the exciting interview!
Would you, too, like to work at PROMOS and become part of the team? Then take a look on our job portal to find out about any vacancies. We look forward to hearing from you and receiving your application.