So I was reading the Wall Street Journal and found an interesting article featuring women executives at top companies and they candidly discussed some of the "real" issues they face, like work and family balance, management styles, surprises, lonliness, coping strategy and myths about women in senior management.
So all of it was good, but as not to overdo, I just included one section that spoke to me the most:
The Myth of BalanceWSJ: Work/life balance is a big issue for women and also men. What do you think about the need for balance?MS. BARTZ: The problem with balance is it denotes perfection. And you can't do that.Balance is waking up at 4:30 a.m. and getting your exercise in because you are supposed to do that. And making sure you get a hot breakfast ready to go and your kids ready for school and then putting your kitchen back in order. Off you go. You do a great job at work. And along the way, you also do a little charity work and make sure to reach out to friends because we have to stay in touch and get that Rolodex going. Then you get home that evening, and you know what that means: dinner, homework, a little quality time with the spouse. Then if you don't have a headache.... That's balance. That doesn't work.You basically have to catch things before they hit the floor. You say, I have a big project at work. I am going to be gone for a couple of weeks, or I'm mentally gone. Now I'm back. I am not going to take any calls this weekend because I am going to be here. Otherwise you spend all your time being guilty, and guilt is such pressure.MS. SEVILLA-SACASA: I couldn't agree with Carol more. Perfection and being superhuman isn't possible.I do think, however, you can be 100% in one area at a specific moment. There are times when you can spend more time on your profession, and times when your family needs your emphasis.I have two teenagers and a 10-year-old. I have a husband. I have elderly parents. And I travel probably 90% of the time. So I have often not been there for very important events at school, sports tournaments and plays my children were in. I probably missed about five of the past 10 anniversaries with my husband, whom I've been married to for 22 years. I'm not there often in the mornings to wake up my children, to have breakfast with them, to take them to school. So I missed out on a lot of those things, and so have my children.So there are a lot of sacrifices and choices you have to make along the way. But I don't think it is all bad. I think you make those choices because there are trade-offs. What I've done to the extent that it's possible is incorporate my children and family into my career. When I had responsibility for the European private bank, I was commuting between Miami, Latin America, Europe, New York. And for a couple of summers there, I spent a lot of my time in Europe. Well, that was perfect because my girls were on vacation during the summer. So I took them to Europe and they got to travel extensively. As a family we also had the opportunity of attending the Greek Olympics, which I was on a business trip for.WSJ: Any senior executive job is very demanding. But what about women at lower levels who want challenging careers but also time for their families? Some of them feel senior women haven't helped to change the workplace to make that possible. Is it possible?MS. PERETSMAN: Well, you know, investment banking is a service business, and like all service businesses, your clients count on you being there. It's not all that different in a way than how you would feel if you were sick, called your doctor and he said he was having family time. Usually the doctor will tell you who is covering for him. How you feel depends on how sick you are. When you have just a cold, you tolerate it. When you are really sick, you don't. The same thing is true in my business.Ultimately it's a juggle. I think what your family, friends, partners and clients have to understand is that when it is really important, you will be there for them. If they believe that, you get to maneuver a little bit more.MS. JUNG: The challenge of our business is being global. We do 70% of our business outside the U.S., and it's a high touch business. You have to be out there.What do you think? Should women stop worrying about the myth of balance? Do your really have to pick either/or? Do women have to sacrifice more than men to be successful?