Becoming a single mom at a young age necessitated a strong drive to succeed, and at 34, I find myself in a position where I lead three core functions in a global pharmaceutical company, which is a career that demands long hours, focus and drive. This Women’s Month, Deodra Reddy, Head: Legal, Compliance and Risk at Roche Diagnostics, discusses the balancing act that is being a hardworking executive and being a mom.
Ultimately, that ever-elusive work/life balance that everyone so craves is a luxury. In my case, on the surface, there is the executive and the role of in-house counsel, and then there is the person that exists behind the corporate facade. Many working women like myself are equal parts human and career person. And achieving the necessary balance between the two distinct facets requires mindfulness – conscious mechanisms that help you exist as a mom, a wife and an individual, and an executive simultaneously.
As a female, there is the traditional expectation that you are a partner, mother, sister and daughter to your family. If you work from home, as so many of us do because of COVID, it is inevitable that work will encroach on your family time. And in my experience, the best you can do is practice cognizance, rather than try to juggle home and work life simultaneously.
This is by no means advice that would necessarily work for every working mom out there. Nevertheless, for me, a few non-negotiable pillars help achieve a semblance of what can be perceived as balance.
At the end of the day, take a pause in your workspace and reiterate to yourself that family time has officially begun. Be cognizant of the things you say and bring to the dinner table. It is true that even during that designated time, the calls and emails may not stop. There is no real stop and start time in the life of an executive. However, some calls and emails can wait an hour or two. So, take a time out to manage the levels of urgency in your work life wherever you can.
On weekends, I generally try to put my phone away and only glance at it at the end of the day to check on urgent matters. Distancing yourself from technology can help you be present in those all-important moments with your family. Lean on your support systems as much as you can. I am extremely lucky, in that my partner has been very understanding of my demanding career and we share family duties equally.
“Although not always successful, I always try my best to be cognizant of the stress I bring from work into the home so that I am able to check it at the door before it spirals out of control. Work stress is not a mask that you can put on and take off. When you are home, leaving the office behind can be challenging. Mindfulness is my greatest ally, and family is my meditation. One of the questions I often ask myself is, ‘What cost does my success come with and am I willing to live with that cost?’ Nothing should cost you your peace of mind and even if balance is hard to achieve, we should try our best to carve it out as best we can.
“Make a point of carving out the non-negotiables in your life – like the big family moments you cannot miss – birthdays, celebrations, graduations and the other important milestones. Uncover the woman behind your façade and let her out whenever you can. It is the best you can do for yourself!”