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Balancing Personal and Professional Life

Personal Growth
Leadership
Reorganization
Embracing Failures
Career Path
New Manager

7 March, 2022

Sangeeta Wakhale
Sangeeta Wakhale

Senior Manager Engineering at athenahealth

Sangeeta Wakhale, Senior Manager Engineering at athenahealth, talks about the space she had created between her work and family life, balancing time between the two that enabled her to pursue her dreams.

The Professional and Personal Life Conflict

In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing business environment. Being a female, it’s even more difficult because we not only have our work commitments, but we also have ample responsibilities at home. Having more responsibilities and trying to give 100% of our efforts at both places sometimes feels like the elephant in the room. A never-ending workday or compounding stress levels is not the way to go; we should all find a balance that’s right for us.

Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance

One of the silver bullets that have always worked for me is prioritization. Prioritization does not only mean that I’d work on the essential tasks first in the office, but it also means balancing the requirements of my work and family. Whenever there was a family emergency, I’d be more attentive towards my family, while when it was needed at work, I focused more on the office.

Speaking from personal experience, as I got married, I was required to proceed with my spouse to Bangalore, in the southern part of India, whereas I was living in Mumbai, which is on the west coast. I had a big question, whether I should quit my job to move with my spouse or ask for office relocation from my current role. As my spouse and I discussed the entire situation, we concluded that I’d be moving to Bangalore.

While that was not the gist of the entire problem, I could not continue with my current project or take in new initiatives. However, my manager back then was supportive of my decisions and even referred me to the same division in the Bangalore office. I relocated to the same company, which meant that I did not have to start from scratch hunting for jobs.

Pro Tip: Sometimes, getting the right kind of support from the right person matters the most. When you’re in such a situation, don’t be afraid to ask for help or support from those you think can provide you with it.

Moving forward, as we progress through, as my spouse got an opportunity in the United States, I did not want him to miss the chance. At that time, there was no opportunity for me in my company that I could take in, but my manager enabled me to take a 2-month long vacation and wait until something would come right in. Indeed, after a few months, while I was vacationing in the United States, I got another opportunity at the same company. The project was 6 years long, and during that time, my son was born. As my spouse’s assignment ended, we returned to India, leaving my long term project in between and keeping the balance between work and family life.

There was a time when I had to quit my job and entirely focus on my son’s upbringing. Taking a career break and making a comeback was also a challenge, but as I applied to multiple companies, I did find myself a role at a Fortune Global 500 company.

In conclusion, as I’ve evolved myself into the role of a senior engineering manager, I can say, when my family needed me, I preferred not to pursue projects that were energy strainers or those that would consume a lot of my time and effort. In that way, I believe I kept the balance between my work and personal endeavors. When my kids were little grown-ups and needed less of my time, I was able to take up stretch assignments and was able to focus on complex projects that enhanced my career growth.

Should Family Be Prioritized Over Work?

From my experience, I feel content that I’ve not prioritized either work and my career or just my family. As I created the proper boundary between my job and my family, I think I made the right decision — not quitting my career altogether or forgetting to care for my family.

Takeaways:

  • Don’t try to give 100% to both work and family at the same time, it will only add to your stress. Keep the right balance and you will get the right support when asked for. Carve out some time for your own development.
  • Have faith in yourself and believe in what you do. Be optimistic that something will work out. As a lot of initiatives are taken now, to support female employees returning to work after break, it’s becoming more accessible for them to find opportunities for themselves in today's business world.
  • Try not to compare yourself to your peers. Everyone has their struggles and journey that they are going through. Comparing yourself to others will only make you feel unhappy about yourself.

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