Taking Control: The Path to Empowerment in Career and Life

Can women have it all? The answer is yes. But taking control and creating that elusive balance is hard, particularly for women.

Research shows the domestic load, whether you’re a parent or not, still tends to fall disproportionately in the lap of women. If these same women have aspirations for taking control to enhance their career, their time has to be carefully portioned out in order to meet everyone’s needs. The problem is, it’s often the woman herself who is short-changed on time. The result? Higher stress levels and lower job satisfaction.

In the first of WeQual’s Rising Leaders events, renowned industry experts Kendra Vant, a Data and AI Executive with tenures at Xero and Seek; Mia Claselius, Global Marketing & Communications Executive; and Krista Bourne, the former Chief Operating Officer of Verizon’s Consumer Group shared their collective expertise on how women can take charge of their careers and their lives for a more focused, efficient life inside and outside of work.

“It starts with creating boundaries between your work and home life,” says Kendra. That means prioritizing and segmenting your responsibilities so you’re in control. There’s a plethora of tools and techniques available to help maintain this balance such as digital calendars for time management and setting notifications for work hours only. You can also empower your team so that the world won’t fall apart if you aren’t there for every single meeting. The idea is that you guard your time fiercely so that your full focus is with you wherever you are.

Progress looks different for everyone and isn’t always a straight path.

Self-Reflection and Mentorship

Speaking of being present, self-awareness is key when taking control of both your work and home life. “We don’t often take enough time to reflect on our purpose, our values, our accomplishments, or our challenges,” Kendra observes. When we’re not acting in accordance with our key values, however hard we work or play, moving forward can feel like we’re pushing against the wind.

Regular self-reflection allows for a deeper understanding of what truly drives us, which in turn shapes more aligned career choices, but we don’t have to do this alone. Mentors and sponsors are valuable assets in helping us hone what it is we really value, and in turn, how we spend our valuable energy.

So, how do mentors and sponsors vary, and which is better? “You seek out mentors, you earn sponsors,” explains Krista. While mentors provide guidance, sponsors can propel your career forward based on your visible achievements. Building these relationships is crucial, as they not only offer support but also open doors to opportunities that might otherwise remain closed.

Whichever path you choose for support, Krista advises: “Ask for feedback. Be really clear about what you need based on your purpose and the values that support it.” This helps tailor your developmental path and highlights areas for improvement and reinforcement.

Remember it’s not just about moving forward in a linear motion. Progress looks different for everyone and isn’t always a straight path. “Continuously challenge yourself to grow and learn. It’s not just about climbing the career ladder, but about fulfilling your potential,” adds Mia.

So, what other steps can we take to retain our focus and feel the wind in our sails?

Every connection adds value to your personal and professional journey, as you do to theirs.

Create Networks

Whilst mentors and sponsors are hugely valuable, the benefits of being connected to others stretch far beyond this remit. Extend your network beyond your immediate professional circle to gain new insights and opportunities and remember that you also have a lot to offer.

“Networking can feel like something that people in sales do,” agrees Kendra. “I wish that I could go back to younger Kendra and tell her that you bring value to any conversation that you enter.” Think about the people in your office building, your clients, your friendship circle, your neighbours. Every connection adds value to your personal and professional journey, as you do to theirs.

“Your company has invested in you. This is your opportunity to make the most of it. So, take ownership of your career development and progression,” Kendra adds.

Strategic Risk-Taking and Decision Making

Risk-taking doesn’t come naturally to some people, but adopting a mindset that embraces strategic risks can significantly alter your career trajectory. “Take calculated risks and be open to learning from each experience, which propels personal and professional growth,” advises Mia. Such risks, when well-considered, allow us to step out of our comfort zones and embrace new challenges that foster growth and learning.

Change is constant, and how we adapt to change is what ultimately defines our career trajectory. Take calculated risks to move forward in your career, and don’t just consider immediate benefits but also long-term growth,” she adds.

Taking control of your work and your life, and doing justice to them both, is less about apportioning equal time to each, and more about being self-aware. “I used to worry too much about the small things. Take a step back and ask yourself, will this matter in 6 days? 6 weeks? 6 months? 6 years? That helps to keep grounded and not catastrophize,” says Kendra.

 

By rolling with change, looking inward to your core values, nurturing vital networks, and maintaining clear boundaries, you’re far more likely to avoid burnout and maintain a happy equilibrium.

Like this Insight? You may also enjoy our article The Path to the C-suite for Women: The Importance of Allyship in the Workplace

Thanks to our 3 Guest Contributors:

Mia Claselius

Global Marketing & Communications Executive

Mia is also a WeQual Alumni and a Finalist of the WeQual Awards, EMEA 2022 in the Brand category.

Krista Bourne

former Chief Operating Officer of Verizon’s Consumer Group

Krista is also a WeQual Alumni and Winner of the WeQual Awards, AMER 2020 in the Operations category.

Kendra Vant

Data and AI Executive

Kendra is also a long-term WeQual Executive and Winner of the WeQual Awards, APAC 2021 in the Business Transformation category.