How a senior part-time role works for both employee and employer

Stephen Tiley, Pension Funds Manager at book retailer WHSmith, talks about his part-time role and how it benefits both him and his employer.

whsmith store


Stephen Tiley was looking for a part-time role which would use his pensions expertise while allowing him time to go travelling with his wife. His three-day-a-week role as Pension Funds Manager at WHSmith has fit the bill and, although he can’t travel at the moment, he has a much better work life balance than in the past.

Stephen, who is 57, started his job in November 2019, but since March he has only been to the office three or four times. The role had previously been a full-time one, but due to changes in legacy pension schemes which reduce the workload, it was advertised as a part-time role.

Stephen’s last major job was as a pensions manager for a logistics company. He finished that role in 2013 and worked as an interim manager in a series of organisations for the next six years. That allowed him to learn about different work cultures in different sectors, ranging from a  US chemical manufacturing company and a health organisation to the Post Office, where he was a self employed consultant.  All but one of the roles has been full time and the one that wasn’t involved staying away from home regularly.

After his wife retired around two years ago, Stephen was keen to reduce his hours and avoid commuting and he didn’t want to be pigeonholed as an interim manager, which can involve fairly long periods of inactivity between roles. His mortgage was almost paid off and there was less financial onus to earn a full-time wage.

Mutual benefits

Stephen says WHSmith has a traditional pensions department, which is fairly unusual these days. Having a role that uses his experience and brain power while allowing him time for other things has been very satisfying. He is also the principal trustee of the WHSmith Benevolent Fund Charity for staff and retirees. It provides vital funds to those in financial hardship. Stephen says that over the last year the amount of money given out by the fund has doubled as Covid has impacted people’s finances.

He adds that he believes both he and WHSmith derive mutual benefit from his part-time role. He gets the work life balance he wants, financial security and a sense of purpose that comes with being employed and WHSmith gets an experienced pair of hands who has encountered many different challenges over the course of his career and knows what works and what doesn’t. He says: “I have the confidence to be pragmatic where you have to be and make the decisions that need to be made rather than being overly cautious. That experience also makes for efficient decision-making and I have the kind of breadth of knowledge that trustee boards often value on various topics, including investment issues.”

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