Location: Durham and Chapel Hill • Year Founded: 2003 • Number of Employees: 4
As teenagers, Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas made a pact. After working together on a high school English project, the two vowed to work together as adults. In 2003, Polk and Chotas made good on their pact and started The Mulberry Partners, an executive and leadership coaching and consulting firm in Durham and Chapel Hill. And, as co-presidents of the firm and later co-authors of the critically acclaimed book Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together, they also started a job share.
They just didn’t call it that at first.
“We didn’t think of our work together as a job share until we started writing our book,” Polk says. “We always thought about our work as a partnership. As we were doing research on our own book, which included research on job share partners, we realized what we were doing was job sharing.”
Chotas and Polk work with their clients to create a project to accomplish desired outcomes, collaborating to share responsibilities as needed. Sometimes, that means handing off work during a project. Sometimes, that means Polk will work more closely with one client, and Chotas with another. The key, says Chotas, is communication and clearly defined roles.
Clients appreciate that Polk and Chotas are able to seamlessly transition work and care for their needs.
“We want our clients to feel like we’re always accessible. Working together, we never have to worry about saying no,” Polk says.
For Chotas and Polk, job sharing has meant having flexibility and someone with whom to share the load.
“That’s been huge,” Chotas says. “When we started the business, we had very young children, and I was pregnant with my second at the time. Plus, we both were making transitions out of full-time positions. To know that we had each other was so amazing.”