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Working lives

Michele Dix, 46, is assistant director of congestion charging, street management division, Transport for London.

Route to the job I did a civil engineering degree followed by a PhD in transport planning at Leeds University, then did the ICE graduate training at the Greater London Council (GLC), where I worked for six years. After that, I worked for the consultancy Halcrow Fox. In 1988, I had my first child and began working part time. Halcrow is a very progressive company and this did not affect my promotion prospects - in fact, I became a director of the company.

I now have two school age children and want to continue working part time. Before taking my congestion charging role, I worked for a year on the ROCOL study, which produced advice on transport for London's mayoral candidates on the road using charges they could use. I had met Malcolm at the GLC so we knew could work together.

Last year, we applied for this post as a job share, though it was advertised as a full time position.

Expectations I thought this job would be very challenging - and it is. But I thought it would work - and it does. I would be reluctant to apply for any job share without knowing who the other person would be, but I knew that Malcolm and I would take a similar approach. I knew that the main advantage would be that there were two brains looking at this job and that we could share and discuss ideas. We look at different facets of the job.

The reality We deal with congestion charging in central London, and are consulting on the introduction of a £5 charge for daytime traffic in inner London from Monday to Friday. Within Transport for London, we report to the managing director for street management and are jointly responsible for 70 people. Basically, we are part of the executive body which implements the policies of the Mayor of London. If one person was doing this job, it would be a seven day week and a 12 hour day.

As it is, I use my time out of the office - and when my children are at school - to catch up with necessary reading. I have done a full time job in three days a week before and this is less stressful.

Sharing the responsibility is very enjoyable.

Advice Communication is the key. We both have to know what has happened when we are not here.

Malcolm works from Monday till Wednesday, and I work from Wednesday to Friday, and we brief each other on the phone on Wednesday and Sunday evening.

We also have an excellent PA who enables the whole thing to run smoothly. One of our rules is that if one of us makes a decision, the other will stand by it.

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