SKIDATA is committed to balancing the demands of work and family life

This time is so precious - parental leave at SKIDATA

SKIDATA is comitted to balancing the demands of work and family life. That's why we support employees who take the opportunity to go on parental leave - just like Thomas. 

With our CARE culture, SKIDATA encourage all working parents and those aspiring to be. The SKIDATA Working Parents Community doesn’t just assist employees with children in juggling family and career, but also helps managers understand the common challenges families face daily. Additionally, we offer support to employees opting for parental leave to devote themselves to their newborns during the crucial initial months. One of them is Thomas.

Thomas has been working for SKIDATA for over 30 years. He now heads the digital solutions portfolio as Senior Manager Digital Solutions in the Europe team. Besides being Senior Key Account Manager Parking & Mobility, he also serves our biggest clients across Europe and holds the position of General Manager at SKIDATA Portugal.

Travel has always been an important part of Thomas’ life, extending beyond personal interests. Originating from Salzburg, his professional ventures have taken him around the world, including to Southeast Asia, where he established SKIDATA Malaysia. These journeys often meant being away for three to four weeks at a stretch. However, this changed with the arrival of his son in autumn 2017. Thomas shifted his focus back to Europe and went on paternity leave. He shares his insights here.

Thomas, you've been on paternity leave twice: firstly in 2018 with your son, and again in 2022 with your daughter. What were your reasons for doing so?

I need to elaborate a little. I already have a grown-up daughter from my first marriage. Back in the mid-1990s when she was born, there was no such thing as paternity leave – things were still very conservative back then. The expected roles were clear: fathers worked, and mothers cared for the children at home. As I was already travelling a lot for work then, I missed many moments with my daughter – lost time that’s irreplaceable. When my current wife was pregnant with our son, I knew I wanted a more hands-on role and to spend more time with him and our family.

What’s more, the Austrian state now offers parents far more options. My wife and I considered early on how we wanted to organize our arrangements after the birth. My wife is a lawyer and firmly anchored in her career, so I took paternity leave to enable her to return to work swiftly.



How did your colleagues respond?

Announcing my two- month paternity leave initially took my manager by surprise, given the rarity of fathers opting for this route at the time. As for my colleagues, it was straightforward. We redistributed tasks within the team and kept our clients in the loop.

Were you alone with your child, or was your wife also at home part-time?

We overlapped the first month of parental leave, seizing it as a family travel opportunity. We realized this might be our only chance to spend an entire month together while we were still working. We spent four weeks travelling along the east coast of Canada and thoroughly enjoyed it. For the second month, I took on the primary caregiving role at home while my wife returned to her job at an 80% capacity.

Was the transition a significant change?

Transitioning from our travels and carefree days marked a stark shift. Besides caring for the children, I also did all the housework. Thanks to my experience, particularly during my second stint on paternity leave, I have profound respect for the role that most mothers play.

What was it like going back to work?

Naturally, returning to work wasn’t like coming back from a typical holiday, but in the end, I was only away for two months. We shifted smoothly from our new routine at home back to our professional lives, quickly establishing new routines. I always got up early and took our son to nursery.

Four years later, you took paternity leave again. How did the two periods of leave differ? Did you consciously change anything?

When we were expecting our daughter, it was a foregone conclusion that I’d take paternity leave again, this time for four months. One reason was my wife’s desire to resume her career earlier. More importantly, though, I wanted to invest more time with my children because of the enriching experience from my first paternity leave. I arranged with my boss to work a few hours each month and attend meetings, taking advantage of the parental leave scheme’s flexibility for part-time work. This approach is increasingly popular among my colleagues.

I spent three of the four months at home alone with my daughter while my wife was at work. We also spent another four weeks travelling together, inspired by our positive first experience. We were keen to seize the moment once more, leading us to Hawaii – a destination long on our wish list. Travelling and daily life with two young children create distinct challenges. You have to plan your days meticulously, yet remain agile enough to abandon all your plans due to unexpected events.

Has your job been impacted by your parental leave experience?

My perception of work’s significance, relative to family time, has certainly changed. SKIDATA supports this experience with its CARE culture, which gives family time an important place alongside work commitments. This culture is bolstered by flexible working hours and Working Elsewhere options, making it easier for parents to look after their children and complete professional tasks flexibly from home. That’s why, when I’m not travelling for work, I try to take advantage of this flexibility to cook dinner and spend a few hours with the children. This time is so precious and goes by far too quickly.

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