MotherBoard Spotlight On: Eimear O’Connor

ESG· 3min February 24, 2023

MotherBoard recently caught up with Form3 Chief Operating Officer (COO), Eimear O'Connor, as part of their 'MotherBoard' content series to highlight incredible working mums within tech & data, as well as individuals and businesses that are supportive and progressive within their approach to creating more inclusive tech & data teams for women.

MotherBoard | mums working in Tech is a community, content & meetup series, and charter designed to drive positive change throughout the UK technology and data sectors by creating environments that encourage the inclusion of working mothers. They tackle stigmas and support employers, like Form3, who want to create real change.

Eimear is the COO and a founding member of the Executive Team at Form3, with responsibility for all aspects of business and service operations including customer delivery, customer onboarding, service management, risk, people, and talent. Eimear is passionate about finding tech first solutions that deliver a first-class customer experience aligned to Form3’s vision to power the future of payments. 

Raised in Ireland now living in London, Eimear is a proud mother, wife, sailor, skier, and pretty average tennis player.

Introduce yourself, your role and what do you think businesses need to do to support mums working in tech & data better?

I joined Form3 as the Chief Operating Officer and part of the founding management team, when Form3 was just 6-months old, back in 2017. My role spans both the Business and Service Operations of the company. When I joined Form3, there were only 6 employees. Today, there are over 500, spanned over 30 different locations and speaking over 74 languages!

I’m an advocate of our 100% remote working policy at Form3, which allows us to attract bigger pools of talent, including those who would not be able to join Form3 otherwise. I also champion our culture of flexible working, irrespective of seniority or tenure. And being a female leader and mother who needs that flexibility myself, it’s always been important to role model this ‘juggling act’, long before Covid-19!

Flexible working also gives women in particular a better chance at remaining at work and research shows that access to flexible working enables more women to stay in the workforce for longer, often maintaining their hours and salary and successfully stepping into more senior positions. I hope for these reasons, that more and more businesses think about how they can structure themselves flexibly to support working mums in our industry.

At Form3 we are leading the way in flexible working and are recognised in the industry for this.

How have you managed to build a successful career, whilst also embarking on motherhood and what challenges have you faced in finding a balance?

I’ve always worked in male dominated industries, so I’ve strived to balance both motherhood and career in the same way that any other of my peers would have.

I’ve made those difficult decisions that sometimes come along with being a working mother, choosing to fine-tune what my working schedule looked like including moving to part-time for a time. Importantly however I have also looked to ensure that this does not mean that it comes along with a change of status or ambition. It’s not always been an easy journey, and on reflection I don’t feel like I always made all the right choices.  Ultimately however, it is the journey and lessons learnt along the way that are necessary for me in finding the right harmony – for me – between work, life, and motherhood.

The equilibrium of mental and physical health has also been of key importance for me. For example, taking enough time off to spend it with my special ones has allowed me to then come back and enjoy greater focus on my work – and I am not only talking about when I took maternity leave. At Form3, I lead by example by taking all my holiday allowance while emphasizing the importance for everyone to use this much needed time to reflect, rest and recharge – whether you are a parent or not!

Overall, I like to believe that I’m one of those people debunking the myth that women are naturally more cautious than men and hence take fewer chances in their careers, a myth often exaggerated   by gender bias. I feel I have developed risk-taking habits – a fear worth facing that has helped me advanced in my career and better prepared me for challenges I would be bound to encounter, as well as embracing a “growth mindset”. Nothing is risked, nothing is gained, right? 

Do you have any final words of advice to our readers about balancing being a mum and having a successful career?

Be brave. Have confidence in yourself and have the courage to communicate that confidence in all that you do. Own your challenges – and don’t wait around or expect someone else to solve problems that are important to you, for you. If you see there’s an issue, be proactive and take the initiative, rally the team, get people involved, collaborate, and find a solution.  

Finally, remember the importance of feedback. Look for people who will give you honest and open feedback – both positive and negative! Listen to this network of ‘trusted allies, absorb what they have to say - even if that’s tough to hear sometimes - and use it to help you grow.