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INSEAD Women’s Leadership Conference: 7 tips for work-life balance

This post discusses the 2010 INSEAD Women’s Leadership Conference in Fontainebleau, France.

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Conference photo illustrating the INSEAD Women's Leadership Conference


This post discusses the recent INSEAD Women’s Leadership Conference in Fontainebleau, France.

Men and women alike often struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and it gets even more challenging as you move higher in an organization.

Susan Rowe, principal coach & founder of Rowepryal; Evelyne Sevin, partner at Egon Zehnder International; Jane French, head of strategy and product development at Citi; Greg Ellison, managing director at Barclays Wealth; and Anat Bar-Gera, chairperson at 4G Africa, all shared their advice on  balancing a demanding career with raising a family. Among the common threads in their panel discussion:

  • First and foremost, love what you do. Make sure you’re passionate about your job, otherwise it’s impossible to do your best work, let alone balance it with family obligations, social engagements and hobbies.
  • Don’t let life happen to you — make choices. Some people have more energy than others. Know your limits and schedule your time accordingly. Learn to outsource whatever you don’t like to do. Don’t enjoy cleaning the house? Then pay someone to do it for you. If you don’t have time to bake a homemade cake for your child’s bake sale, bring in a store-bought one.
  • Don’t feel guilty about making time for your family. Both work and family are important, and there will be times when you need to prioritize one over the other. This is normal over the course of a career and if you choose your workplace with care, your employer will respect your choices.
  • Don’t neglect yourself. The soft issues — such as workplace culture — really do matter. You won’t be able to do your best work if your values don’t align with those of your work environment. If you’re passed over for a promotion because you’re pregnant, it’s probably time to consider a change in company, or forge out on your own. If you need to fit in a daily jog to maintain equilibrium, set aside the time and don’t apologize for it
  • Choose your husband, wife or partner carefully. Once you’re married, you’re an ecosystem doing the work-life dance together.
  • Recalibrate daily. You might not feel like you’re maintaining a work-life balance every single day. Take time to reflect and change your plan for the following day accordingly
  • Finally, keep learning and have fun.

What work-life balance advice do you have to offer?