I’ve always thought of work-life balance as work-life integration. I think the phrase work-life balance positions the two as being in conflict, but they can actually be supportive of each other.
In strategy consulting, it boils down to every individual deciding what a fulfilled life means for him or her. It is different for every person.
For me, I wouldn’t feel I had a fulfilling life if I didn’t have a successful career that enabled me to fully tap into my potential. A career that enables me to make a difference and an impact on the world around me — to stretch myself.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t be fulfilled without a happy family. I want both. So I shouldn’t ever feel like I give too much time to my family, or that I give too much time to my career. This should be the case for all women in leadership roles at Accenture Strategy. As a working mother, you don’t need to feel guilty about the time you spend at work. If you’re doing everything right in order to lead a fulfilled life, you’re also making yourself a good role model for your children. At the end of the day, you want your children to also lead fulfilled, happy lives. I strongly believe that the best education for your children is for you to be the role model for what you’d like to see in them.
There’s a lot of crossover between working life and family life. A lot of the skills we pick up in work — prioritization, delegation, decision making, giving people space to help them grow — can be very transferable to being a good parent. They are skills that are helping me to build meaningful relationships with my children. For example, when my son was seven, one day he said to me: “Mom, I love you, not only because you’re a loving mom, but also because you’re my psychiatrist. Whenever I’m down, you know how to bring me back up.”
My work approach helps me to give my children enough space to grow so that they can ultimately find their true selves. I try not interfere too much, but I’m also on hand to provide guidance whenever they need it. Similarly, being a parent helps me to perform in my job. I think the best leaders are the people who can bring the best out of other people. Being a parent has helped me to build on my empathy, my ability to nurture potential.
It’s all about focusing on the things that fulfill you and bringing the best of home to your work, and vice versa. Getting the most out of your work and home life doesn’t have to be a tricky balancing act. When you get it right, it can be an extremely rewarding and enriching experience.