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full time job . . . That is, if you’re working for a woman-owned business that understands the challenges of managing a job that impacts lives and a household where lives depend on you. Hats off to our owner and president Lynda Patterson for offering her team members a work environment that is enabling, flexible and supportive. 

I started working for AMPED full-time seven months ago. For much of it, I worked the usual 40-hour week. For the past several weeks, however, I have been clocking in at 150-200% due to the fact that the largest scientific meeting of our company’s largest client is a mere 27 days away.

We budgeted for an attendance of 6,185 scientists, researchers, physicians, investigators and patient advocates who focus on multiple sclerosis — 6,455 have since signed up with an expected 15-20 percent more by the conference date. The work behind the scenes is voluminous; the coordination levels immense; the back-and-forth between the organizing leadership, logistics specialists, speakers, vendors and attendees are incessant. Our scientific programs are all set and on schedule. We exceeded abstracts submission from past years by 115%. We are compliant with all ACCME rules and policies, even with changes that went into effect April 2014.

While ensuring that all our service providers from Montreal, the UK, Hannover, the East Coast and Madison, Wisconsin are in sync, I managed to have one son graduate from high school (with highest honors, ahem); prepare two kids for college (college dorm shopping and new student orientations, anyone?); celebrate four of five family members’ birthdays in a big way (thanks to frequent flier miles); send off and welcome back two of our kids to and from France, Sweden and Spain; cheered on our youngest in almost all but two soccer games for the season (they were conference champions); saw through the knee surgery of our oldest son; and personally volunteered as AV tech for our church and emcee at a fund raiser to raise awareness on the Typhoon Haiyan’s recovery efforts that claimed thousands of lives in the Philippines last year.

I credit my faith in helping me endure all these (I’ve been blessed with good health), but I must say the kind of work environment I am lucky to have and the lovely home I get to go home to at the end of each day have allowed me handle it.

Are there days when I’m just completely exhausted? Yes, of course! How do I cope? I catch up on sleep. I watch a favorite TV show while snuggled with my husband in the couch. I cook Filipino dishes. I connect with friends and family through social media. I hang out with my multi-cultural girlfriends. And then there are emails to answer, contracts to review, payments to process, doctor’s appointments to escort kids to. It’s endless.

I’m typing this blog entry while on a plane en route to a final walk-though of our upcoming scientific meeting of 6,000+. Yesterday was our youngest’s birthday. I scheduled this trip so I can be there for the celebration; to let my son know, he is loved. It’s possible. A working mom can have it all.

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Baby Shower 4-18-13 013

Baby Shower last year for Laura Hodge and Kim Siebecker: Celebrating two baby boys to come!

 

By now, most of us have read or are familiar with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. It’s a groundbreaking essay that asks why so few highly talented women have gained positions as highly ranked business leaders. It dares to look beyond the ingrained corporate double-standard by embracing ambition and promoting fearlessness in women.

Much of the book puts the onus on women to seize opportunities and assert themselves on their way to securing their seat “at the table.”

I’m all for “girl power” (just ask my feminist-in-training, 12-year-old daughter), but I believe, if we truly want to support women and see equality in the workplace, we need to be honest and admit that women still manage the bulk of work as it relates to child and parental care. The challenge of life/work balance for women is very real. It’s a challenging maneuver, to be a successful professional while balancing an infant in one arm and tending to an elderly parent with the other. And those responsibilities at home can be a very real barrier to promotions and income growth as women move in and out of the workforce in an effort to balance both.

It’s no wonder that, as Sandberg states, although women now earn more college degrees than men, “continue to outpace men in educational achievement,” and are entering more fields previously dominated by men, they hold only “14 percent of executive officer positions, 17 percent of board seats, and constitute 18 percent of our elected congressional officials.”

"I'm proud to work for a woman-owned company that gets it."

In order for the Lean In movement and women to succeed, employers must adapt their policies toward supporting valuable staff in balancing life, both in and outside the office.

I’m proud and blessed to work for a woman-owned company that gets that. AMPED has developed a culture where hard work and results are the expectation, but not to the detriment of family and self. It’s essential that our staff know they have the autonomy to do what they need to do for their families so they can concentrate on delivering exceptional results for our clients.

For instance, when school is unexpectedly closed due to dangerous weather conditions (we live in Wisconsin, after all), we have the flexibility to work from home. When an elderly parent is ill, we can take off at a moment’s notice and know that we have the support of the entire staff behind us. When there are doctors’ appointments, broken furnaces or sick kids, we all understand that life comes first.

There is an expectation that the work gets done — and then some — but there is no clock to punch and no judgment. It’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? Respect and trust your employees and they’ll deliver their best in return.

I truly believe that finding and nailing life/work balance is the key to empowering women. Support from family is essential. But employers can play an even larger role toward that dream of equality.

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