We all work with and encounter women making history every day. Each one might not get a chapter in the history texts being read 50 years from now, but today, each is contributing to something greater — a company, a technology, a message, a movement, a community, a circle of friends, a family.
As Women’s History Month continues, we endeavored to tap into some of that history-making energy to illuminate in a series of blog posts the expertise, wisdom and inspiration that the women of Signifyd bring to the world. In this second installment, our focus is on balancing work and the rest of life — how to find it, how you define it, how to keep it — so we turned to female leaders across Signifyd’s various teams to hear from the experts.
Boundaries can set you free
Renata Caramelo, risk intelligence manager, São Paulo, Brazil
Work/life balance has looked different for me at different times of my career. I have a teenage daughter, and I have worked since she was a year and a half old. Balancing her needs with my work has always been very important to me. She is the most important part of my life — but I also really like to work.
I have always tried to balance and give both my daughter and my job the best that I have. It has gotten easier as she has gotten older and as I have learned to set boundaries. I am a bit of a workaholic, and it took a while for me to get comfortable saying, for example, that I needed to take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment. Working for a supportive company is important, but I also needed to find in myself the confidence to say no.
Setting boundaries is even more critical when you work at home like I do. My grandmother used to say that most women have two jobs: at home with the kids, and also in the workplace. When both of them are in the same place, you need to be more careful about this balance. I love working from home, but it is quite easy to become overwhelmed. You don’t need to be at the office to be working, so sometimes you get stuck in this loop of work and work and work.
Figure out what balance is for you
Emily Mikailli, chief people officer, San Jose, California
Balancing work and life is very situational and personal. When I had young children, I felt compelled to be around them as much as possible. That forced me to be as efficient as possible at work — I didn’t have the luxury of working all weekend long. Now I do work more in the evenings, and I don’t mind that.
The definition of balance is: You’re energized about your work, and you feel like you’re stepping away from it enough to rest and come back to it with enthusiasm, clarity and a desire to solve problems. This will not look the same for everyone. Are you getting what you need to be energized by your work? If you’re not, you need to reflect and do something differently.
One point to consider is reactive work. You don’t really get work done until you have some uninterrupted time for deep thought. If someone is struggling with work/life balance, they need to figure out how to delegate, automate, and otherwise do as much as they can to get reactive escalations off their plate. I would encourage people to think about how they can block their time, take things off their plate, reduce unnecessary meetings. It’s not a benefit to an employer or an employee for them to be really, really busy – it’s actually a benefit for them to not be busy. People aren’t going to waste that extra time – they’re going to use it to do research and make the bigger decisions that will help the company progress.
The balance isn’t a steady state
Amal Ahmed, director of global financial services and EMEA marketing, London, England
I’m a single parent with a 15-year-old. Early on in my career, a lot of my decisions were not necessarily based on whether I liked the job, but on whether I could have work/life balance — meaning, could I get to childcare in the mornings and evenings? A lot of my decisions were based on being a mum first, as opposed to providing me with the career progression I was seeking.
A lot of my employers were very flexible and understanding. But when you have a child and you’re trying to progress through the career ladder, you do have these moments where you can’t give everything to one aspect of your life. So early on in my career, I did focus more on being a mum. Now my child is more grown up, so I am able to pursue more opportunities.
Balance is about being present
Rejane Leite, software engineering manager, Belfast, Northern Ireland
For me, work/life balance is more of a mental balance. It’s not something where you can say, “50% of my time is work and 50% of my time is my personal life.”
If sometimes you end up spending a little bit more time on work, studying a subject or going deeper into a topic, that doesn’t mean you’re not having work/life balance — it means that you’re passionate about something and want to get more information about it. But it also means that when I spend time with my family and friends, I have quality time with them – I’m not thinking about work at all. For me, work/life balance is having the ability to be concentrated and focused on the time I’m spending at work or with friends and family.
Featured illustration by Getting Images
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