Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Meet the Power Mom Executive, Pregnant Before Marissa Mayer Made It Hip

Chapter 7: Secure Your Identity Part 11

In the last two posts we met Sebastian Tate, who throughout is career has maintained a strong identity outside of the workplace, which has in turn helped him lead a balanced life.  On the other side of the spectrum were four women that I interviewed who all independently felt like an abused spouse in relation to the company.

Most people seem like “Janet Wolf” caught between competing identities. Janet has a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in Chemical Engineering, and worked after grad school for the Boston Consulting Group.  Janet is one of the most relentlessly positive people you’ll ever meet, and I was not surprised to hear that at the end of a long engagement the president of an electronics firm recruited her to become vice president of corporate planning.

Janet was very interested in the position, but was nervous because she was four weeks pregnant, and “wanted to make a good impression.”  (And this was  ten years before Marissa Mayer made it hip to be a pregnant executive.)   When Janet told the president, she was delighted to hear his response:  “Congratulations, I don’t care.”

Janet went on to be what I think of as the “power working mom.”  At work I doubt people perceived her as a mom, yet she was able to remain involved in her kids activities.  I asked her how she manages to do both.  In her words:

“I’ve been crystal clear with each boss – I have kids.  There will be days I need to leave early, or can’t get here early.  I got the work done and it was never a problem.  I got to move around to bigger and better things.”

What impact do you think Janet’s dual identity had on her response to difficult political situations at the company?

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