It’s the question that has followed working women around for generations. How do you balance family life and a successful career? Thankfully, in this day and age, such traditionalist notions of gender roles no longer prevail. All around us we see great role models who are living proof that women can have it all.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we caught up with a few of these inspirational women. Read on to hear their career advice for working moms—and anyone who wants to achieve success across all dimensions of their life.
#1: Define what success means to you.
Sheryl Helsdon-Baker, HR Senior Director for Oracle Canada, advocates using the “Wheel of Life” method to find balance in your life and aid in your goal setting. “This exercise is a powerful way to step back and define what success means to you personally in all aspects of your life, and clearly identify areas that need attention.”
The idea is to plot the dimensions of your life that are most important to you along a wheel and assess if there are any areas you’ve been neglecting or giving too much of yourself to that may put you off balance. From there, you can then set short, medium, and long term work, family, and personal goals. “It’s important to write your goals down and book time in your calendar at regular intervals to evaluate your progress and update your goals,” she wisely advises.
#2: Find work/life integration.
A well-organized schedule and flexible working hours mean Oracle Denmark Country Leader Ingrid Mjøen never has to sacrifice quality time with her family. Ingrid spends afternoons with her children before she goes back to her desk to finish off the day’s work. She thoroughly plans her work agenda and relies on collaboration with her team: “Even though we are a technology-driven world, our lives revolve around human relationships and trust.”
For Leor Chechik, it was her manager that first suggested she work from home part-time after the birth of her first baby. As a software developer on a global team, her career is especially suited for the type of flexibility that Oracle offers.
“That has been so helpful to me. I can create software in the morning, and then go to my son’s Halloween parade at pre-K at lunchtime, and then connect virtually with my colleagues in India after the kids are asleep.” Leor says working with a high-performing team of professionals is key. “We trust each other to get the work done, no matter what time of day or night we choose to do it.”
#3: Prioritize the important stuff.
Vidya Nagaraj, Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) lead for India, recommends that you identify and prioritize the most important things at work and at home—and not to compromise on either end. “It’s OK for the rest to take a back seat, as long as you understand what matters most to your leadership team and your family.” She further advises that you continuously re-evaluate, “Your priorities can vary as frequently as each day or week, so the process needs to be continuous.”
Learning to “let go” and how to delegate effectively are traits she consistently sees among successful working parents. Vidya actively encourages her local OWL members to share practical advice on how they successfully juggle commitments at work and home.
#4: It takes a village.
Every family faces tough times at some point. Pulling together to solve these challenges is always the most productive way forward, says Oracle Senior Administrative Assistant Sharyl Jupe.
Sharyl became a self-help sensation when she co-authored a series of best-selling books—with her ex-husband’s new wife. The books provide advice to newly separated parents how to put their children first and adapt to being a blended family.
“We had a lot of ups and downs at first,” Sharyl remembers. “It wasn’t always easy or perfect, but we all agreed that we were one family, not two, and we needed to find a way to act that way for our kids’ sakes.”
Sharyl brings this collaborative mentality to her work at Oracle too. “The admins in Development are like family. We have each other’s back. Between us, there’s almost no problem we can’t solve.”
#5: Don’t apologize for your ambition.
While still fulfilling traditional roles as a daughter, wife, and mother, KyungHee Lee faced certain challenges starting her career in ‘80s Korea—but to this day she makes no apologies for the determination that empowered her rise through the ranks.
Instead, Kyunghee focused on developing her strengths. She made a point of asking for frank, 360-degree feedback and always looking to see the part her role played in the bigger picture. "I would move to work for managers who recognized my performance and potential—and more importantly, were happy to mentor me and help me develop. I have always been able to think long-term and make the best decision for myself."
Regardless of gender, Kyunghee believes that you must have a willingness to work on yourself and continuously build your knowledge, skills and expertise. “And when an opportunity presents itself, seize it. Don’t shy away from taking on more responsibility or diving into a new role. Never second guess your abilities. Have confidence and be ready."Is having the right level of support and flexibility important in your life? Then explore the career opportunities at our diverse and inclusive workplace.