With Mother’s Day in the U.S. coming up, I’ve been reflecting on how lucky I am to have my mom as a role model. She gave me one of the best gifts – the reality of a successful working mother. She put as much into her meaningful career as a scientist as she did into her family and showed me what was possible.
Finding work-life harmony is challenging – and not just for women, though they tend to take on the lion’s share of childcare and household duties. We can all benefit from sharing what’s worked for us, so with two sons now in young adulthood, I want to offer a few pieces of advice that have guided me over the years.
- Choose the right environment. Look around at the leaders in your organization. If there aren’t women in senior roles, it may speak volumes about the firm’s leaders and culture. As global co-lead of our Citi Women Inclusion Network, I’m inspired by the work our firm is doing to attract, develop and promote women at all levels – in line with our expanded representation and recruiting goals. I’m also proud of what Citi does to support all families, whether through our Families Matter Inclusion Network, hybrid work model or benefits such as parental leave, adoption and surrogacy benefits, and on-site childcare.
- Prioritize what’s most important. When my children were very young, I was travelling frequently in a job I loved, but ultimately opted for a role that would allow me to spend most nights at home. Others might look for location or schedule flexibility or being home in time for family dinner – and these priorities may shift at different points. I never stopped giving work 100%, but I did learn to set clear boundaries and non-negotiables. We’re often told to take every opportunity, but strong talent will always have opportunities, so feel comfortable saying “no” or “not now” to prioritize what matters to you.
- Be vocal about your priorities outside of work. As I became more established in my career, I realized just how important it was to share more about my life outside of work and that my top priority was my family. I made a point to tell my team things like, “I can’t make that meeting because I need to take my son to the doctor,” or “I’m leaving early to catch my son’s tennis match.” When you integrate personal and professional responsibilities and share how you’re prioritizing, it empowers others to do the same and normalizes the realities of being a working parent.
- Refill your cup and ask for help. You don’t need to be a superhero. Speak up if you need help and invest in your mental health and overall wellness. I found that I was a much better leader, wife and mother when I took time to “refill my cup” rather than run on empty. Make a point to regularly do things that energize you, and allow others to step in and support when needed. I have been fortunate to have a supportive spouse, family and mentors who gave me guidance on professional and personal matters, so invest in building meaningful connections with people who want to see you excel at work and home. And, of course, pay it forward by doing the same for others.
- Stay in the game. It can be so tempting to put your career aside, especially when raising young children. But here is what I learned: it does get easier over the years. Staying in the game doesn’t mean committing to endless hours of work, but it helps over the long-term to continue gaining valuable skills and work experiences. Remember, you are setting a great example for the next generation!
While there are plenty of other tips and tricks I’ve used throughout the years, these points have helped guide my decisions around how I show up for my team and colleagues each day. And whether you’re a woman, working parent or ally, we can all reflect on how we’re showing up and supporting those around us.