Willis Helu

Contact Centre Team Leader

"I couldn’t wait to be a full-time dad and was excited at the chance to spend every day with my daughter."

When my beautiful daughter Tyllis was 9 months old, I was lucky enough to be able to take parental leave and be her primary carer for 12 weeks. I couldn’t wait to be a full-time dad and was excited at the chance to spend every day with her.

As a bit of a control freak, I had to learn early on to just ‘go with the flow’. I didn’t have much time to think about my own needs and had to adapt to Tyllis’ own routine. It was a steep learning curve but all worth it. I would take her to the park most days and have coffee-meet-ups with friends or relatives. One of my friends has eight kids! So catching up for ‘daddy dates’ with them was a great experience.

I have a new level of respect for my wife, especially after seeing her give birth via emergency caesarean. I’d say I’ve developed a deeper understanding and respect for all mothers. Now if I’m on the phone with a customer, such as a stay-at-home mum who has called up about a policy and their child is crying in the background - I try to empathise and put myself in her shoes.

From the moment I approached my leader about taking primary carer’s leave, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. My leader and team would touch base with me to see how I was going and ask to see photos of my baby. It was never anything work related – it was just about Tyllis and I! Even the little things helped, including times when they would organise a car park for me so I could bring my daughter in to meet everyone at work.

My transition back to work was seamless too - even with a new manager. I felt welcomed. There was interesting projects waiting for me to work on, so it felt like I was doing meaningful work as soon as I went back.

My final words of parental wisdom - say goodbye to sleep! But seriously, no matter how hard it gets, don’t forget - you’ve got this! There’s always people in your corner so don’t be afraid to reach out – I call it my tribe. For any new dads thinking about taking parental leave, you’ll never know unless you give it a go. My relationship with my daughter is so good and being able to be a first-hand witness to her adaptability to change and grow as it happens has been nothing short of amazing. It’s helped me personally too, as my confidence has grown significantly.

We have real diversity here at Allianz Australia and the fact that we support and celebrate the positive impact dads can have on their children and families is amazing and really speaks to my values.