She is successful, driven and widely respected in the advertising and media worlds. But the British woman who was given the helm of Facebook Europe is unusual for another reason – her insistence on working a four-day week.
Nicola Mendelsohn, the social network’s new Vice-President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, became one of Britain’s most successful businesswomen as the executive chairman of creative agency Karmarama.
Graduating from the University of Leeds with a degree in English and Drama, the Mancunian was described by industry commentators as one of the “top 35 women under 35” before becoming the first female president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA). She also co-chairs the Creative Industries Council, which advises the Government.
However, her appointment at Facebook could cause a stir as Silicon Valley continues to debate the work-life balance of a competitive and infamously anti-social industry.
Throughout her career, Ms Mendelsohn, a mother-of-four and prominent member of the Jewish community in London, has maintained that flexible working hours – including her own four-day week – are vital for motivating working mothers.
Others in the industry have been keen to crack down on those who work away from the office. Merissa Meyer, the boss of Yahoo!, caused controversy when she ordered all of the search giant’s employees to commute into work or quit. Ms Meyer, a former Google executive, was reportedly concerned that staff who worked from home tended to be unproductive without the motivation of a busy office. Ms Mendelsohn, by contrast, has said of her work arrangements: “The industry has to more readily welcome back its best women and that means offering more flexible working. I would much rather hire a talented woman on four days a week than lose her forever.”
Carolyn Everson, vice-president of global marketing solutions at Facebook, said of the appointment: “I could not be more thrilled. She brings outstanding leadership and passion.” However, the company refused to comment on Ms Mendelsohn’s working hours.