Thursday 23rd June 2016
Dr. Roselyn Borg is a lawyer by profession with more than 10 years’ experience practicing law both in Malta and in the UK. She also develops and delivers training programmes and presents a radio programme (Id-Dinja tax-xoghol). She is a mother to a 17-month old boy Edward.
This is a very rare sight of Roselyn. She is seated at a hairdressing salon, having her hair washed. Roselyn has gorgeous naturally curly hair and confesses to me that she is a wash-and-go type of girl and does not often go to a hairdresser. Picture her head leaning back into the sink, whilst having her head massaged by the lovely Mandy from Alfie’s Hair and Beauty salon. She smiles and admits it feels nice to be pampered once in a while. She tells Mandy that she would love to leave her hair as natural as possible so we decide to let it dry naturally and move on with the interview.
Roselyn’s unfiltered outspoken sincerity is what drew me to feature her in the first place. What you see is what you get with Roselyn, actually more often than not, you get even more than what you see with her.
She has a child-like manner about her, speaking candidly about even the most personal of struggles and laughing goofily when she gushes about her son. On the other hand when it comes to her work, she comes across as on point, sharp, switched on. The woman knows what she is talking about and it is clear, in an effortless kind of way.
What made you move to England in the first place?
“I was working in Malta with the Malta Employers’ Association and was happy, however I wanted more. I wanted to open up my horizons and felt I needed international experience to get where I wanted to be, in terms of my career. So in 2005 I moved to England with the intention of gaining some work experience and returning to Malta after one year.” Needless to say it ended up being more like 7 years.
“I eventually took the very impulsive decision of resigning and started the process of setting up my firm in England.”
Where in England did you live?
“I moved around, but I started off in Birmingham. I worked there and I also studied and managed to get adjudicated as a UK solicitor which is quite a big feat in the UK. Whilst in the UK I also met my husband Crispian and we got married on the 14th March 2009.”
Why did you decide to open your own firm?
“It is actually a sad reason. In December 2008, my father whom I was very close to, was diagnosed with cancer. This meant that I was constantly travelling to and fro, between Malta and the UK (at the time I was living in Kent). I could not do this whilst being employed, so I eventually took the very impulsive decision of resigning and started the process of setting up my firm in England. This allowed me the flexibility of seeing my father as often as I wanted to, whilst still pursuing my career.” Sadly, on 22nd May 2009 her father passed away.
“At the time when my father died, I didn’t really grieve properly and the stress of it all took its toll on my relationship with Crispian.”
“When I returned to England in June, a few weeks after the funeral, all the paperwork for the set-up of my firm came through in the exact same week. I took it as a sign and immersed myself wholeheartedly in building my brand. It was at the time of the recession in 2009 so even though it was a difficult time for the general economy in the UK, my business flourished because so many companies needed advice on employment law. In a way people’s misfortune was actually my fortune.”
She recalls one memory which she still holds dear to her heart as a defining moment in her career. “I remember one day working from our basement in Kent and, further up from where we lived, there was a modern office block being built. I told my husband: This is where I will have my own office one day and he laughed it off. A few months later, I sat proudly at my desk in my own office in that same building.”
What made you move back to Malta?
“At the time when my father died, I didn’t really grieve properly and the stress of it all took its toll on my relationship with Crispian. Looking back now I can see that I was naive. I had this romantic idea of what marriage would be like and when the reality of life came crashing down, it all felt like a disappointment. So Crispian and I divorced. I sold my firm to a bigger company and remained involved as consultant. In 2012 I moved to Malta (whilst Crispian stayed in England) and replicated the firm, naming it Twenty-one Law. For a while I stayed very involved in both firms but now I am more focused on Malta.”
“..the love you feel for your child is different. It is overwhelming. It is beyond words. Oh and the fear. The fear surprised me.”
And then you got back together?
“After around a year we actually got talking once more and I fell in love with Crispian all over again. We ended up getting back together and are still together today.”
So it ended up actually becoming a fairy-tale…then you got pregnant right?
She smiles “Yes I guess it did after all. A few months after we got back together I got pregnant. I call my Edward a miracle baby. I am not shy to say we had struggled to get pregnant. I had just taken yet another dose of fertility treatment and the specialist told me that I would surely not be getting pregnant that month and we had to perhaps explore other routes. At the end of that same month, I got pregnant. Go figure. I proved science wrong.”
What was the biggest surprise about becoming a mother?
“The unconditional love. I have been in love before, but the love you feel for your child is different. It is overwhelming. It is beyond words. Oh and the fear. The fear surprised me. I live in fear. I worry all the time about his health and about everything. I even worry about me more now, because I know he needs me.”
What has been the most challenging aspect of motherhood?
“The balancing act. Balancing the role of being a mother with the passion and love I have for my career and politics. I am always divided and constantly strive to be fair with my time.”
“I don’t fluff around. I am much more organised and productive because I have a very important reason not to leave anything pending as much as possible, just in case.”
What has been the best moment for you as a mother?
She thinks for a few minutes. “I think the best moment to date was when my son took his first few steps. It just felt so good to know that my son had reached that amazing milestone and I loved watching him waddle over to me whilst grinning from ear to ear.”
Has anything changed in terms of your career since you became a mum?
“Not really. If anything I have become even more efficient with my time. I don’t fluff around. I am much more organised and productive because I have a very important reason not to leave anything pending as much as possible, just in case.”
What about the effect of becoming parents on your relationship?
I think most parents of young children feel a change in the dynamic of their relationship. It is tough, especially if your child does not sleep the whole night. It can get exhausting and time with your partner is the first to give because you usually end up being too tired to spend quality time together by the time your child is finally asleep. On the other hand we really make an effort to go out together, just the two of us. I am very lucky; I have great help from my mother and some babysitters when it comes to taking care of my son.
What is the best thing you every bought as a mother?
Roselyn smiles, “I think I will have to say the breast pump. It enabled me to breastfeed my son for almost six months and amidst all the guilt that a working mum (or any mum for that matter) feels, being able to give my son my own milk made me feel less guilty and I felt like I was contributing to his progress even whilst I was at work. It really was a great feeling.”
“Being a mother is a full-time job whether you also have a career or not.”
One piece of advice for any new mum?
“Go with the flow. Follow your own instinct and do what works for you no matter what other people’s opinions are.”
How do you feel about the phrase “work-life balance”? What do you think can be done to improve situation for working mums in Malta?
“I want to make it very clear that whether mothers decide to go back to work or not, does not make them any better or any worse. Being a mother is a full-time job whether you also have a career or not. In Malta I feel we are improving, however we still have a long way to go in terms of work-life balance, not only for women but for both parents who need more support especially when it comes to the care of young children.”
How and why did you get into politics?
“I have always been in organisations and lobby groups so to an extent (like with many before me), politics was the next step. I got to a point when I was complaining a lot so I thought to myself it would be better to do something about it than just sit and complain. So when the opportunity arose to get into politics I embraced it. I want to give my little share to hopefully make our country a better place. I am loving the journey even though it is really hard work.”
“Give me a legal challenge any day, but this (posing for photos), now THIS is tough”.
We move on to the beauty area at Alfie’s Hair and Beauty salon for make-up with the amazingly talented Francesca Rizzo, in preparation for our photo-shoot with Luke Engerer. I ask her some light-hearted questions :
Roselyn and I make our way to the very talented photographer: Luke Engerer’s studio. When I told her that she will be wearing “Charles and Ron” designs for the photo-shoot she was over the moon. “I love their stuff. They are so talented and have done amazing strides in the fashion industry both here and overseas”. The outfits were complemented by the beautiful Pierre Lang Jewellery.
During the photo-shoot Roselyn laughs about how being a “model” is actually much harder than it looks. “Give me a legal challenge any day, but this, now THIS is tough” she laughs.
Article written by Davinia Mallia Pulé
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