As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, our Women in Nielsen employee resource group gathered reflections from associates around the world about how they #BalanceforBetter, this year’s International Women’s Day theme. Two of our accomplished women leaders shared their personal stories about achieving balance at home and at work. Here’s what they had to say.
Cindy is a Vice President, Client Business Partner for Coca-Cola and Tencent in China.
Nine years ago, I moved from the U.S. with my two boys, Max (4) and Oscar (2) to China. I started my first day at Nielsen on International Women’s Day in 2010 (March 8). I, as well as my family, doubted if I could survive working and raising two kids. Now, here I am, a confident Nielsen executive with two bright teenagers.
People often think that a clear line needs to be drawn between your professional life and your personal life. But to me, both paths can be intertwined and connected in the name of love and passion—leading to an exciting adventure full of challenges, growth and dreams.
The leadership skills I’ve learned from work can also be applied to building a stronger family. Being a mother of two boys can strengthen my endurance and courage to overcome any challenges at work. I share with my children “growth mindset,” “integrity,” “input as the function of output” and other Nielsen wisdom. Meanwhile, they bring me up to date on all the popular games and music they like. Nothing is easy, but because of love, everything has a purpose and hardships become the weight of joy. Rather than expecting my children to be achievers in the future, I expect myself to first be a good role model for them.
In order to achieve work and family balance, focus is very important. Just like skiing from the top of the mountain: As long as you focus on small sections of each short slope, one section after another, you can always ski safely to the bottom. It might seem very challenging to achieve career success while taking care of kids, but I keep reminding myself to focus on surviving the daily struggles with the strong belief that things are getting better. Eventually any challenges can be overcome. Focus also brings efficiency—I choose to spend time on the meaningful things and bring a positive attitude.
Lastly, teamwork is important both at work and at home. At work, I count on Nielsen colleagues and collaborate with great teams. Outside work, I have a supportive family, teachers, friends and a nanny who all help my kids grow, which makes being a business leader and a mom possible.
In short, love, focus and teamwork help me find my balance between family and work, and my continuous growth to be the best I can be.
Natasha is a Senior Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, leading global initiatives to build a diverse and inclusive culture.
As a remote worker, my work and home life easily collide. I do my best to step away from email and calls during the hours that I’m helping my children with their homework, having dinner or winding down. Even if this means moving my laptop to another room (or letting it die), I’m able to return and catch up if there’s something critical that needs my attention later in the night.
My husband and I work together on almost everything that happens during these after-school hours. We both have full-time jobs, and this means one of us may choose to prepare dinner (usually him) while the other reviews homework. On the nights that we’re both exhausted (often!), we order in rather than preparing dinner, and we choose to use our energy having a conversation with the kids and let the dishes pile up for one night. Giving ourselves permission to live by our own playbook and to focus more on moments together, and less on “norms” and “roles,” has hugely helped me with the kind of balance I like to have in my life. It’s also the example I want to set for my sons.
We call our parents, who are retired, “the other parents.” In our case, there are three sets. Grandparents shuffle our boys to practices, help when I’m traveling, and give us a break for date night whenever we ask. At first, it was difficult to ask for help. I like to come across as self-sufficient and being the one that others rely on. But reaching out to extended family when I’m in a scheduling bind at home or speaking up at work when I need support goes a long way so that I don’t later regret my circumstances, or feel burnt out.
Lastly, I’ve given myself a lot of grace. By its very definition balance is about trying to keep both sides in a proportion that’s comfortable for me and aligned with my values. But every day, something tips the scales on either end. There’s no right way, and I’ve heard it best said, “one size fits one.”