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How She Does It: Hermione Bellm of CEO YOURSELF

In our How She Does It column, we talk to inspirational mothers about work-life balance, favourite travel destinations, travelling with children, and how they really do it all. This month, we sit down with the wonderful Hermione Bellm.

Keen to promote, encourage and support other women in her newly-launched podcast, CEO YOURSELF, Hermione Bellm is an advocate for mothers returning to work on their own terms. Here, she tells us how becoming a mum has changed her outlook on life and why time out to reflect is something we all need. 

Tell us about you?

We are a family of four which I still can’t quite believe! I am mum to Xanthe, who is almost one, and step-mum to Arlo, five. I have just launched my new podcast CEO YOURSELF, interviewing inspiring women in leadership positions, and sharing motivational resources online at our website.

Tell us more about your work? 

Our vision is to support your journey to becoming the CEO of your life – the best version of yourself. I also mentor women in business, and consult brands at a high level, having spent the past 15+ years working with leading global brands and building their presence, particularly in the UK market.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice about being a working mother what would it be?

Do less, and take more time off to be together and bond. I went back to work too quickly after having a baby, and tried to resume ‘normal life’ too soon. It wasn’t realistic and I wasn’t kind enough to myself. Having a baby is an all-consuming, completely life altering experience. Women are superhuman and becoming a mother has made me completely in awe of the human body, and even more appreciative for the human experience.

Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a working mum?

Having a child has made me more particular about how I spend my time away from my children. It has to have meaning and purpose, and I don’t want to waste time. I’m even more efficient because it’s a non-negotiable that I miss time with them unnecessarily, or for something that’s not in line with my mission and values.

If you had the power to change one thing for working mothers, what would it be?

I believe the way we look at maternity leave needs to be reviewed, globally. There is no ‘right’ answer, but I believe it should be a staggered return to work: a period completely offline, then available from home for a few meetings and calls, perhaps then two half days a week, two full days, work from home, etc. I feel that being completely off and then completely on can be traumatic, but doing it the way I did it (returning to work too soon) is traumatic too! We need to be more considerate of mothers and their position in the workplace, as well as more respectful of the incredible value women bring; their ability to multitask and do it all. As I navigate this experience, in the future I would like to somehow support change for women everywhere.

If you have a day to yourself, what do you do?

In an ideal world, meditation and affirmations. Walk and a coffee with a close friend in the park or by the beach. Sauna, steam, swim. Writing, writing and writing some more. Cooking something delicious for my family like a roast. A nap, or reading in bed. A long bath and an early night.

Heading ‘out out’ – where is your favourite spot?

Dinner at LPM. One of my favourite places for dinner.

Tell us about the best holiday you’ve taken with your children?

Last summer we took the kids to Deia in Mallorca. It’s where my husband and I got married, and it was heaven to be with the children in a place that will forever hold such a special place in our hearts. Xanthe’s middle name is Deia, in honour of this magical spot.

Favourite hotel ever – with or without children?

Le Sirenuse in Positano, or Ol Donyo in Kenya.

You live in London, can you share tips on what to do with children here? 

We spend most of our time in London parks. We also love the art galleries, the Science Museum and the London Aquarium. There are lots of great soft play centres that the kids love and, to be honest, heading to the countryside and just getting the kids outside is our idea of heaven.

Travel essentials with kids?

We try to pack light but ensure they have their home comforts, like their favourite teddies and blankets. We make it an adventure.

Travel essentials without kids?

We have taken polaroids throughout our entire relationship and have photo albums filled with our favourite memories of the places we have travelled to. So a camera like the Fujifilm Instax Mini is great to have in my bag.

How do you think travel benefits your children?

When we travel I love seeing the kids adapt to new places and people and be confident outside of their comfort zones.

The best advice you would give to other mothers?

No advice at all, just trust your own intuition because mother knows best – and it’s so important that women feel that.

Are there any women who inspire you?

Too many to list. I’m so inspired by women like Babba and Emily Weiss, who’ve built huge global brands while navigating marriage and motherhood. Closer to home, I’m inspired by all of my closest friends doing the same: lawyers, doctors, creatives. I’ve interviewed quite a few of them, so you can hear their stories, too.

How do you do it? 

I just try my best. To be present for the kids and to achieve at work. Admittedly I don’t find much time for exercise and I’m not as social as I used to be. I have to have strong boundaries and be well organised. I also have an amazing husband, incredible nanny and a supportive team who help me along the way.

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