By: Angela Prentner-Smith, Founder and MD of This is Milk
When Covid hit I was four months pregnant with my second child, Neve, and managing an established business with a small team. I’d gotten into a place where we were comfortably earning enough money and had overcome the start-up anxiety and challenges that plagued our early years. We had clients, consultants and a team, and everything was, well, comfortable for the first time in my 5 years of running the business.
I was about to travel to Dubai in March 2020 to deliver training to a client, and as a pregnant traveller, I kept hearing ‘are you sure you should be travelling?’. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the chat of what was then just termed ‘The coronavirus’, on the basis of not wanting to add worry to my pregnant self. I was abnormally anxious in my early pregnancy, specifically in relation to the climate emergency.
By: Angela Prentner-Smith, Founder and MD of This is Milk
A simple tool to help you make the right choices for your business
A few weeks ago I took a look at the very first GANTT chart I did back in March, when it was just me sitting at my coffee table thinking 'right, what are all the things I need to do to get This is Milk off the ground?' This was just after I’d been having a slight melt down thinking ‘there’s so much to do, how on earth am I possibly going to do this?!'
I put everything down on paper that was in my head, gave them indicative timeframes and sequences and then almost unintentionally didn't really look back at it. I did it, wrote it all down, and set it aside. It was an exercise of catharsis more than anything else.
Last year only 2% of parents took shared parental leave. This year MD and founder of This is Milk, Angela Prentner-Smith, and her partner David Prentner-Smith challenged the norm by taking sharing parental leave with their second child, Neve. Here they tell us why they decided to do it, their experience of it, and why they think it’s so important to challenge the expectation that women should always stay at home with the baby.
Has working from home killed the command & control manager or indeed the validity of this style of organisational culture? This is 'the big pointy question' Angela and Steve discuss in this edition of our 3@3 video blog.
Angela suggests that while managerial approaches need to change, we're not quite there yet. We are still seeing some organisations encouraging their middle management to push employees down the 9-5 route with little appreciation of those working with children in the house or partners that work shifts. Some organisations consider getting their employees to work their usual 9-5 working patterns as a return 'to normal', and are not yet in the place of looking at deliverable and accountability rather than the proverbial 'bums on seats' approach. These are the organisations that will struggle as this 'new way of working culture', embeds in society. However, Angela suggests that it's never too late to build relationships with your team based on trust, deliverable's and shared organisational goals.
Prior to a number of weeks ago, it was found that 70% of working professionals spent at least 1 day a week working remotely (IWG), with 53% working at least half of the week out of the office.
Remote working is not a new term, however it has been thrust into spotlight in recent weeks with many now forced into their homes for an unknown length of period trying to make the best out of this difficult situation.
Make no mistake, for many, working from home (remotely) is not an easy transition or something that they are even set up for. Many have no desks at which to sit, poor lighting maybe, potentially children running around mad, not to even mention the isolation from colleagues and friends.
It is understandable that this challenge for many, has been nothing if not, well challenging.
(Click 'Read More' to watch video recording of our 'Remote Working & Facilitation' session)
Angela Speaks to the Girl Geek Scotland community about 'This is Milk' & the digital skills gap.
Last week our Managing Director Angela spoke at a Girl Geek Scotland event in Edinburgh. For those of you who have not came across them yet, Girl Geek Scotland is a network and community for people working and studying in creativity, computing, enterprise and related sectors in Scotland. It provides a fantastic platform for the team at 'This is Milk' to not only learn from our peers but to also inspire them when and where we can.
Like all GGS events, this one had a fantastic turnout and it was great to be involved . We want to say a huge thank you to the team at GGS for inviting us, as well giving massive props to all the other speakers/panellists who where there on the night, including:
Customer Analyst,This is Milk
Sometimes it’s healthy to take time out to reflect on your own achievements, for to quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Once upon a time, two women came together with a shared idea. Looking around, Angela Prentner-Smith didn’t see anyone else in Scotland offering a business transformation service, so she decided to step up and give it a go.
That once upon a time took place just a few years ago and in the subsequent months, a lot has happened. The idea has taken seed and that seed has grown into a business development agency called This is Milk. Two and a half years and 20 clients later, we’ve surpassed milestones that we could previously only have dreamed of – and this is just the beginning.
Angela Prentner-Smith will be co-hosting a design session at Friday's Milk Bar with Sarah Drummond, of Snook, on what a working day in the future might look like.
Ahead of the Milk Bar we asked Angela a few questions:
1. What brings you to the Milk Bar Meet Up?
Well I set up the Milk Bar due to frustrations I was having with events and networking. I wanted a place where we could talk about what's coming next as opposed to what's happening now. How can we make things better? Are there better ways of doing things? What’s coming next for us, what will we have to prepare for next, are there better ways of doing things? I love to hear and learn from other people's thoughts on these issues, and so the Milk Bar was born!
2. You will be co-hosting a design session that shows what a work day in the future might look like. Can you tell us a bit more about why you chose this topic for the Milk Bar?
Sarah and I designed this topic to get people thinking about what the future might look like. The great thing about the future is that we are designing it as we go, without even knowing it. What we as business people need to do is to proactively design it, rather than let it happen to us.
The exercise draws on the tools of service design and design thinking to get people thinking and doing rather than just listening.
3. Why do you think it is important for organisations to prepare for the future?
The world is changing so quickly. Digital and technological advancements have meant even the safest of businesses and industries are threatened by disruptors. In order to keep up with customer expectations, employee expectations, the changing workplace landscape and competitors, businesses need to be on the front foot.
4.What do you think the most important trend is going to be for your business in the next 5 years?
For This is Milk – I think the trend towards employee learning is key. The critical component that will help any business to deal with constant change is constant learning. If we aren’t learning, we can’t keep up with change, we can’t inform our business strategies with the latest information and we won’t deliver the best to our customers.
So for a business that's all about change and transformation the key to our success will be in constant learning and changing ourselves! There is data to back this up, but it seems obvious to me! Don’t stagnate, and keep learning to keep successful.
Meet Angela at the Milk Bar on Friday 5 August 2016, 17:30-19:30 at Snook Interchange Glasgow, 84 Miller Street, Glasgow.
Managing Consultant, This is Milk
Looking back on the night This is Milk really set off - with a speech from Nicola Sturgeon.
Back in October, This is Milk launched as a company with a celebratory night in the Orkney Enterprise Centre in Govan. It was a fun night attended by many - including the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Managing Consultant, This is Milk
Why I chose to start a business and have a baby in the same year
Between March 2014 and March 2015, three major life milestones happened. I had a baby, passed my driving test and started a business – in that order. Ironically, passing my driving test took the longest – but that’s another story.
On the one hand, I look back and think, gosh what an achievement, and on the other I think, like many others, I must be mad! But in many ways this has just been a natural next chapter in my particular story. I was ready and willing to take it all on.