Anthony Toovey with two of his children. Picture: Supplied
Anthony Toovey with two of his children. Picture: Supplied

This dad has the job you want

AS FAR as work/life balance goes, Sydney man Anthony Toovey is living the dream.

The dad of three, who is the general manager of global food and groceries giant Unilever's Australian refreshment division, usually starts his workday at around 9.30am after dropping his kids off at school and day care.

At least once a week, he also leaves at around 2.30pm to pick them up again.

He also works from home at least fortnightly to spend more time with his family - and tries to evenly split the responsibility of taking time off to care for the children when they are sick with his wife Stephanie.

Mr Toovey looks after iconic Australian brands including Streets ice cream and Bushells tea.

He said he was a firm believer in flexible working conditions for parents and that he hoped to serve as a role model for other working parents in the company.

"My wife was off on maternity leave for a few years and I saw her struggle to get back to work and when she did, I also saw her struggle to make it work," he said.

"It became an area of passion for me to make sure our workplace was championing bringing people back from maternity leave into fantastic roles that made the most of their talent.

"Dual careers are the norm now, and most Australian businesses need to find a way to make that work."

Mr Toovey said everyone benefited from a culture of flexibility in the workplaces.

"For me, taking advantage of the policies in Unilever has allowed my wife to have a fantastic career in another company," he explained.

"There's also an element of paying it forward because we need to make changes not just in our company but in the wider world.

"It is really important to have those great initiatives in place with roles that are flexible and great maternity and paternity leave policies to set an example in the industry."

He said a corporate culture that helped working parents eased stress and also helped people spend time with the people who matter most to them.

"I feel sad when I think of generations past and the stereotypical roles people had to play, because it meant women missed out on having fulfilling careers, and men didn't get to experience the joy that comes with being deeply involved in your kids' lives," he said.

"I love being able to pick up my son from drum lessons or chat to my daughter after school instead of coming home and hearing it all second-hand from my wife.

"Also my wife is much happier that she's been able to succeed in her career. It means we're able to balance everything and everyone in the family is happier because of me working in a workplace that supports families."

Mr Toovey said a lack of flexibility led to a loss in female talent in the workplace - something his company actively tries to prevent through initiatives such as job sharing and a Parents Club.

He also makes a point of sitting down with every member of his team to develop an individual working plan to find out how the company can best support them with regards to looking after kids or sick and elderly relatives or other personal issues.

"Equality is everyone's job and you need to put in place the right policies to support this," he said.

"It's everyone's job to make it work - man or woman, whether you're considering taking maternity leave or you have no intention of ever taking it - we're all better off with an engaged and diverse workforce."

Mr Toovey said until recently, either he or his wife would have had to sacrifice their career and ambitions to raise their family, but that greater flexibility had allowed both their careers to flourish.

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