Can we have it all?

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nicolette-rubinszteinNicolette Rubinsztein, Director & Author

There’s good news from the recent report from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency – more than 40% of managerial appointments went to women. However, as we conquer one challenge (equality), another one emerges. I believe balancing career and motherhood (and fatherhood) may be an even more “wicked” problem than equality. My experience is that it is hard. Very hard. Further, I think it is a social phenomenon of this century.

If one is not careful, a career mum can end up running around like the proverbial headless chicken, being pulled in all directions, with constant feelings of guilt and physical exhaustion. At worst there can be illness, anxiety, depression, marriage break-ups and unhappy kids.

So, how can we “have it all”? Given my background in strategy, I was inclined to try to think about this challenge strategically. My strong view is that there is no silver bullet. Instead we need a holistic approach.

As a career mum, I have tried to do things a bit differently. This included working part-time and flexibly for over 12 years at Colonial First State/ CBA, which was quite unusual in a general manager role. Needless to say, I had a lot of support from my employer.

I was also happy to consciously put my career on hold while I had my three children. Over time, I became fascinated by the stories of my female friends and colleagues working in the superannuation and funds management industries, particularly the growing cohort who were working part-time in senior roles.

When it came to framing the topic and bringing these learnings together, I thought that the best way to do it, to capture the strategic nature of the problem and the holistic nature of the solution, was to apply the McKinsey 7S framework to the life of a career mum.  The McKinsey 7S framework is a well-known business strategy framework.

The first “S” is shared values and normally refers to corporate culture. For a career mum, it’s the shared values between her and her partner. They need to work out what’s going to make them happy and get on the same page.

The second “S” is structure, normally referring to organisation structure.

In the case of career mums, it’s about how you structure your life. I am a big advocate for part-time work and I think it is critical to achieving balance (assuming you don’t have a “house husband”!).

There are another five “S”s in the McKinsey framework which I’ve covered in my book “Not Guilty”.

In conclusion I don’t think it possible to ‘have it all’. I do think by being strategic, it is possible to have the bits of ‘it all’ that you want. Quentin Bryce put it well when she said, “You can have it all, but not all at the same time”.

Nicolette Rubinsztein is a non-executive Director at UniSuper, SuperEd and the Actuaries Institute. She is author of “Not Guilty”, a guide book for career mums.

Nicolette is a keynote speaker at the FEW Leadership Conference 2017[LINK]in which she’ll be covering how the strategies are also applicable to all working women feeling the pressures from today’s hectic lifestyles, family and ageing parents.

For more information on Nicolette, or to order her book visits:

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