Job Focus: Professional Nanny
What is a nanny? Many of us think of a nanny as a somewhat more involved and permanent babysitter, but in the rarefied echelons of UHNW (Ultra High Net Worth) families a nanny is much more than this.
Whereas a “normal” nanny will look after the children whilst the parents are working or otherwise engaged, professional UHNW nannies provide 24/7 care and are responsible for all aspects of childcare. Even when the parents are with the children, the nanny is usually on hand to support them, whether travelling with the family or at one of often several homes in various countries. Because of this intensive schedule, they will usually work in a rota with another nanny – a week or perhaps two working then switch with the other nanny. It’s fairly common therefore to hear these extremely hardworking individuals referred to as rota nannies.
These are highly skilled, entirely professional people who perform consistently with the aplomb and polish expected at this level. The role requires a fine balance of this professionalism with nurturing their relationship with the children, giving stability and consistency in the care of the children whilst the parents lead their hectic lives. Often acting as an alternative or additional parent, an UHNW nanny’s role changes and evolves as the children grow.
As with so many household roles at this level – particularly where childcare is concerned – a definitive list of responsibilities is just about impossible to make. As well as the hands-on childcare that forms what most of us think of as nannying, there’s a huge amount of organisation and logistics to consider. The children of UHNW principals have a lot of professionals involved in their lives – private tutors, sporting coaches, equestrian instructors, security and bodyguards, and many others. Then there are the events which frequently require inclusion in a crowded schedule – for example tennis tournaments, birthday parties, playdates, school trips and events, and so on.
An UHNW nanny therefore needs to have a wide gamut of skills and essential qualities. First, and this of course goes without saying, they should love working with children. They will have to be supremely well organised, capable of juggling an overflowing schedule with the patience and flexibility required to maintain smooth composure under layers of responsibility. This requires a proactive approach, a cool head and a good deal of common sense.
Communication skills differ and extrapolate from those expected of, say, an office-based executive. An UHNW nanny will need to liaise not only with the parents/principals, other members of the household staff, schools and outside professionals as mentioned earlier, but with the children too. As any parent will tell you this is a challenge in itself, whether you’re dealing with recalcitrant teenagers or high-spirited toddlers. Like the children themselves, this can evolve and change rapidly.
An enormous amount of trust is placed in a nanny. This is not only in putting the children’s care and development often entirely into their hands, but trust with the houses, vehicles and other property. Crucially this also includes trusting in the nanny’s utmost discretion – they’ll almost certainly be privy to sensitive and private information, which especially in the case of UHNW individuals must be guarded extremely closely.
For those individuals who want to embark on a career as an UHNW nanny, aside from the qualities outlined above, there are a number of things to consider.
Qualifications are essential for a nanny at this level. There are several educational routes considered acceptable, and we won’t attempt to navigate all the possibilities here as candidates will certainly have done their own research. To give an idea of what we tend to expect in the UK however, these include a Level 3 Diploma or NVQ in childcare and education, early years practice, or working with children APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experience and Learning), or similar; or an advanced modern apprenticeship in a similar subject such as early years care and education. Some candidates may hold an older qualification such as the Norland Diploma (now a BA), a Chiltern College Certificate or a qualification from the Princess Christian College, and whilst these have been superseded in modern times we still see them regularly. A relevant first aid qualification and an up-to-date DBS (background check) are usually required too.
Excellent references are also required, which naturally come from sufficient experience in the field. Most families will be looking for someone long-term who can really get to know the children and develop with them, so it is therefore important to consider your own projected circumstances when looking for a role.
Pembury Partners has a wealth of experience in placing professional nannies into teams of household staff around the world.