Women Of The Channel: How To Perform A Work-Life Balancing Act

Standing On The Balance Beam

There’s no perfect balance between a demanding career and a personal life, of course -- that is something upon which every female executive could agree. But the following answers from 25 of our Women of the Channel offer up some funny, some serious, some ’I wish I had thought of that’ advice for all of us. Bring on the de-stressing.

Heidi Baker, Vice President, Sales, Bell Techlogix

Go with my children on "off the beaten path" trips. Make sure family connections and celebrations are respected. Jogging to clear my mind. Regular discussions with respected mentors about daily activities and long-term goals help to keep me balanced.

Jesscia Baker, Global Director, Partner Programs, Compuware:

Making time in my schedule to spend with friends, family and giving back to your community is important for me, so I prioritize it. I also listen to that internal voice that tells me when things aren’t balanced and I take steps to correct it. Laughter seems to be the best medicine for me and my family and friends provide lots of reasons to laugh but often being able to laugh at myself brings the most relief. If I’m beyond laughing, simply taking a walk can bring me back down to earth.

Cindy Bates, Vice President, U.S. SMB & Distribution, Microsoft:

Put ’personal’ on your priority list just as you would getting the fiscal plan or next marketing campaign ready. Sometimes work can be all consuming -- during budget season or closing the fiscal [year], but you have to then make sure you swing the pendulum back by taking that vacation with no e-mails or peppering your summer with scheduled long weekends.

Kristie Bell, Vice President, GTS Channels, Alliances, Midmarket, IBM:

I am fortunate in that my husband is a stay-at-home father. However, I look for every opportunity to spend time with my children -- just talking, or playing or putting them to bed. I heard someone being asked the question, 'What's your favorite sound?' My immediate reaction was "my children's laughter". That is the ultimate de-stressor. I also de-stress by listening to music, swimming, participating on church drama team and playing apps on my iPad.


Renee Bergeron, Vice President, Managed Services, Cloud Computing, Ingram Micro:

I try to keep the two separate: when I work, I work and when I am not working, I am not working. It's too easy to check the BlackBerry on the weekend, so instead I give myself 60 or 120 minutes to catch up with work over the weekend and am very productive because I do it in a concentrated fashion, instead of ongoing. Being able to focus on my personal life helps a great deal to reduce stress and actually makes it easier to focus on my work during work hours. I run on a regular basis, which helps too.

Debra Bowers, President, CEO, Barrister Global Services Network:

This is very difficult to do. My business almost always takes precedence over personal issues. I believe that competition demands that to win you almost always have to consider the business first. I do try very hard to prioritize things in my personal life to make sure that I handle the most important things. I am fortunate in that my sons work with me, so we have shared goals and we understand the importance of the business demands. I de-stress primarily by reading.

Maria Cannon, Vice President, Worldwide Partner Organization, Business Management & Operations, Cisco:

I think of it as a juggle, not a balance. I think most of us are constantly tossing one ball in the air while we reach out and grab the others. I am 110% committed to my family and my community involvements. My calendar has to flex to accommodate. I de-stress when I hop on an airplane. There is something about being in the air that clears my mind and helps me see the big picture. Since my responsibilities are global and staying close to partners is crucial, I spend a lot of time in the air.

Carolyn Crandall, Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Riverbed:

I set clear boundaries to balance my professional & personal lives. At the office, I’m in ’work mode’ and focused on Riverbed’s goals. When outside the office, I’m devoted to my family, friends and to helping others. I de-stress by having fun and taking comfort that life is too short to worry about every little thing. Put things into perspective and see them in the bigger picture. My family is an endless source of fun that puts a smile on my face or makes me laugh regardless of how busy I may be.

Brooke Cunningham, Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, Data Management, CA Technologies:

Worrying about a work decision overnight doesn’t help you solve it in the morning. In fact, going in with a rested, fresh perspective will more likely help you make the decision with more clarity. I believe in striving for that elusive work-life balance, and try to maximize my personal time. I love to travel and I take every opportunity to visit new places on weekends and vacations. I try to visit new countries as frequently as possible and have those ’off the beaten track’ adventures.

Jennifer Didier, President, Directions Training:

This is always a challenge. I believe blending work and personal life is critical to success. I once believed that I really needed to keep them separate and not work after 5. This stressed me out even more. I quickly realized that life and work happen at all times of the day and night and to ensure that I am my best, I handle everything that needs to be done and stay focused on the task and don’t worry as much about the separation. Gardening and Scrapbooking are what I do to de-stress.

Nicole Enright, Vice President, Strategy Development and Execution, Avnet Technology Solutions:

Work-life balance as an executive, wife and mother of a 6-year-old can seem like an oxymoron. I balance by focusing on accomplishing what is most important for each role. I make a point to volunteer and spend time with my family to show by example that work-life balance is possible. My favorite activities are mixed martial arts (great way to get out the aggression of the day in a healthy way). To feed my soul, I love to turn up the music, sing at the top of my lungs and dance like a lunatic.

Annie Flaig, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Sales, AMD

I’m a firm believer that whatever you’re doing, you should do it with all your heart. And my personal life is no exception. I always take advantage of the time I have with friends, family and the few quiet moments in between, and make it a point to immerse myself in whatever activity I’m doing (especially when I’m traveling – learning about new cultures, food and people have always been a passion of mine).

Linda Ford, Vice President, Marketing, DynTek Services:

I have two amazing children, and a supportive husband, who are the world to me. Playing with the kids removes the thoughts of seminars, budgets and marketing plans and helps me take joy in the simple things. I think the key maybe isn’t about balancing professional and personal life, but somehow connecting them. My kids make me want to be better in all aspects of my life. Every person is different, but having a career makes me a happier, more complete person and, ultimately, a better mother.

Paula Graydon, Senior Director, EMEA Partners & Enterprise, Ciena:

I have a unique formula to keep my work-life balance and I feel that one must have an extended family at work to give you that balance. To keep a company running at top speed, you need to attract the best employees. I view Ciena as an extended family and everybody at the company is there to help in every way possible. Specifically, I de-stress by spending quality time with my family and friends as well as swimming regularly.

Dane Moorefield, Director, Global Partner Marketing, Siemens PLM Software:

Flexibility, organization, communication, and lots of caffeine are key to personal and professional balance. Throw in an amazing posse of BFFs and a little merlot therapy and I can face most any challenge.

Indu Navar, Founder, CEO, Serus:

I am a single mom, but that did not stop me from pursuing my dreams. I thought of this as having twins, my son on one hand and my career on the other. I promised to learn to care and cherish both of them at the same time. I have the same commitment and discipline with my dreams/career. I take care of my son, work around the clock building Serus. In my spare time I take flying lessons, go skydiving -- the thrill of free fall is great for destressing. In my spare time, I play tennis with my son.

Betsy Roddy, Senior Director, Marketing Communications, Field Marketing, D-Link:

It’s not easy in the ever-connected world. But I do have ’BlackBerry free’ zones on vacation and on weekends when I retreat to my backyard oasis.

Monique Rogers, Corporate Administration Director, CharTec:

Balancing professional/personal aspects of my position is a day-to-day challenge. I'm a mom, a manager and a corporate member. My measurement of success is what my kids and team think of me and if I have made a difference for someone --especially those I serve in charities and leadership roles. The rest I can conquer on Monday. De-stressing? Remembering to take the time to be in the moment. You'll regret missing it. Sometimes getting ahead means taking the view from the back.

Laurie Schultz, Senior Vice President, General Manager, ERP Solutions:

I garden, play golf, and tease my kids.

Heather Somerville-Gonzalez, Director, North American Strategic Accounts, Enterprise Computing Solutions, Arrow Electronics

My answer to work/life balance is being present. I may not be the mom who can attend every ballgame or every awards ceremony, but when I am with my family, I am ’in the moment.’

Sonia St. Charles, CEO, Davenport Group

Balancing the different areas of my life has always been a struggle for me. Now that my children are grown, the emotional conflict around achieving balance has greatly diminished but I still struggle to find that healthy balance. Overall, discipline, planning and execution make the difference in my stress level. If I apply the discipline to plan and then execute the plan, my stress level goes way down. It can be as simple as planning to get up early to exercise every morning and then doing so.

Andrea Thomas, Director, Channel Development, Enterprise Networks, Adtran:

Balance family with work every single day, not just on weekends. Stay away from goals of perfection, on both fronts. Stay connected to good friends who can talk me off a ledge (both personally and professionally). Force myself to have a grateful heart and thank God every day for my multitude of blessings. As for de-stressing, running, spinning, weightlifting and short daily meditations keep me sane.

Regina Vignone, Renewals Director, Astaro:

The balance between work and professional life can be tricky. I think the goal isn’t to have a 50/50 balance all the time, instead understand that sometimes it is going to me more 70/30 and other times it will be more 30/70. It is important to recognize when work needs to take priority and when your personal life needs to take priority and give 100% of yourself to whatever you are doing at the time. When I am at work, my mind is at work and the same goes for when I am at home.

Michele Weber, Vice President, North American Ecosystem, Channel Marketing, SAP Americas:

Manage your personal calendar with the same level of focus and planning as your work calendar -- never miss an important meeting.

Marcie White, Director, Product Marketing, Insight Direct:

What I have accepted is there will never be perfect balance between my professional and personal life, but what I can do is make the time that I do carve out for myself, family and friends count.

To destress, I recommend:

• Find a way to gain perspective: make a plan or a list so things don’t look so insurmountable.

• Collaborate and enlist assistance.

• Make time to exercise and get a full night’s sleep

• Talk to a co-worker you trust and bounce ideas off them -- two heads are better than one.

• Laugh.