My advice to women trying to “balance it all” successfully? Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
There’s a really good understanding at Accenture that we all have a work life, and we all have a personal life—and leaders will work with you to help maintain balance. I know this from personal experience, and I want to share my story.
A successful juggling act
After I left my last company, I was unsure whether I wanted to continue in consulting. I had a young child at home and was trying to figure out how to balance everything that was important to me. But when I went to Accenture, I was blown away by how women at higher levels than me were managing to successfully juggle career and family life.
I was considering a managing director role, and I wanted to be honest during my interviews. “If it means four or five days on the road, it’s not for me, but I can do three days,” I said. The response? “We can make it work.” And I received the same positive response after my second child was born, when I was figuring out my new balance.
Within six months of joining Accenture, I was leading one of our four offering areas within the practice. Growing my family and my career has been a challenge, but I’ve figured out how to make it work.
Getting the balance right
As a general rule, I try not to be away for more than two nights so that on the third, I’m home to put my kids to bed. Not that it always works out that way; I deliver for some pretty big clients in the utilities sector, and pursuing new deals can involve one-off trips, so I have to be flexible.
And, of course, there’s plenty to do here in Washington, D.C. I act as quality assurance director, serving as an independent set of eyes for deals. I’m also a talent lead, involved in recruiting new talent and shaping our culture so it provides growth opportunities.
I take advantage of Accenture’s unrivaled training and development opportunities to keep me up-to-date with everything. For example, we currently have a major focus on data-driven consulting, and I’m taking a course on how to use data to drive insights and add value to clients. I love that I’m keeping my skills fresh and able to advise clients how to stay relevant.
Accenture is at the cutting edge of offerings in utilities, and our people are at the forefront of analytics and grid convergence. It’s exciting to see how things are changing; if you take the telephone industry’s transition from copper landlines to digital and wireless as a parallel, utilities are going through a similar transformation as they balance traditional infrastructure and assets with rapidly changing technology. Utility companies are looking toward grid modernization, and intelligent grid is a focus for us.
There is also a growing need for grid security, and not just from cyberthreats. There’s an enormous amount of data out there, and we’re guiding our clients into the New, helping them navigate their role as a data steward and how they can best manage and use that data.
My best advice is this: Keep it all in perspective. Everyone’s situation is different when it comes balancing work and family life. You have to figure out what works for you.
Obviously, child care can be an issue, and having the support of extended family makes a difference. My husband also has a challenging job and spends a lot of time traveling. There’s an incredible amount of planning and coordination of personal and work calendars involved, so we can make sure at least one of us is home for the kids.
If you want to truly be successful, deliver for your clients and be there for your family, leave every option on the table. Don’t rule anything out. And look for creative solutions.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Be prepared to start the conversation. I did and have never looked back.
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