Continuing our International Women's Day spotlight series, Talmix speaks to Patty Cox, an accomplished digital marketing and PR strategy executive, about balancing freelancing with family, and empowering the women around us.
Why did you first decide to go independent, and how have you been finding it?
The reason I chose to go freelance was family oriented, which I think is pretty common for a lot of female professionals. So, I left a job I loved to stay at home and go freelance. I knew I wasn't going to be a stay-at-home mom full time because I never wanted that, but my husband and I decided that what I did for a living and my network was more amenable to freelancing.
In the beginning I didn't have a lot of trouble finding projects, but finding that balance between freelancing and my own personal fulfilment, as well as doing what I needed to do for the family, took some adjustment. But, between networking and signing up for platforms like Talmix, it's been it's been really fun. Now I'm piecing together a lot of different things; consulting project work, teaching, and open-source stuff, which has all been a lot of fun to work on.
How did the pandemic affect you?
In the first year of the pandemic my work came almost to a standstill because a lot of the clients that I was working with stepped back and put a pause on their projects.
Around the second year mark things started to pick up again, with everyone figuring out how to work remotely. That whole process was super easy; there was almost no difference for me, because when I was freelancing I had that gig going already. I've definitely found in the last six months or so everybody is doing stuff in earnest, it's been very busy!
I also think there was still a stigma somewhat attached to women who chose to be freelance before the pandemic because they wanted to have that family balance, but now everybody is stuck with juggling the family. I think there's been a big appreciation for that, and it will make it easier for women going forward.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I spent a lot of my time in automotive, and as an industry it’s very male oriented, so I had all the typical challenges that a woman would have in that space. I also found that a lot of women who did well in that space weren't necessarily helpful to each other because it was so competitive. I don't see that as much anymore, but I've always thought that it was more important to support each other than to try and hold on to the piece you managed to carve out for yourself.
I think freelance is a great way for women to be able to advocate for themselves and not get caught up in the mire of corporate politics. It’s still hard work; you have to hustle from one project to another, and signing up on platforms like Talmix is helpful because it cuts down on that a bit, but you still have to propose and pitch and know the work, so going through that process ultimately makes it easier to advocate for yourself.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to other women looking to embark upon an independent career?
It's funny that you say that, because I walked my dog the other day with my neighbour who is thinking about making this change. My advice to her was to take a step back and do a skills assessment; reflect on what you're good at and think about how to adapt what you've done to different scenarios. So, I really encouraged her to not think about her experience so narrowly, but instead to think about all the things that she knows how to do really well and how they might be applied in other situations.
What is making you feel positive these days?
Honestly, I think one of the best things to come out of the past few years is the recognition from companies not only for remote work, but also that they can tap talent from anywhere. I’m looking forward to working with people from all over the world, from all different walks of life. We tend to look in our geographies for talent usually, but now if you need someone with a specific skill set, they can literally be anywhere, and that opens the door to bringing in all different kinds of talent and perspectives. I think that's going to create great diversity in teams but also in thinking, and I think that makes working so much more pleasurable and interesting!