Women Of The Channel: How I Achieve Work/Life Balance

Perfecting That Work/Life Balance

It's not easy for anyone: How do you carve out personal time in a schedule chock-a-block full of business commitments? Balancing a professional life with time off the clock is a challenge with which everyone can identify. Keep one of the following tips from CRN's top Women of the Channel handy for your next 'stress test.'

Reena Gupta, CEO, Avankia

I keep a detailed schedule of things to do each day. I am up quite early in the morning -- 2 a.m. -- to work with my core operations and development staff both stateside and on the phone with my global offices, so that I can keep my evenings free to play with my kids and be there for their extracurricular activities. Breathing and meditation is key to de-stress. I'm part of the Art of Living organization and practice the techniques [it teaches]. I follow this principle: Be happy, come what may.

Patricia Moran, Sr. Dir., WW Channel Marketing, Avaya

I take time every day to appreciate the beauty of nature, the kindness of friends, and the love of family. I love to garden and make it a haven for my mind to relax and recharge. I make a conscious decision every day to realize how short life is, and [to understand] that you cannot miss the moments that will make you a better, more worthwhile, person.

Michele Hayes, Sr. Dir., Global Channel Marketing, Blue Coat Systems

I have three boys, ranging in age from 8 to 21, each with a very active life. It is always a juggling act, but I've learned to accept that sometimes the plates will fall, and that is OK. I do my best to manage my expectations, both at home and at work, but the key to keeping things running smoothly is constant communication. To de-stress, I surround myself with family, friends and some good wine.

Paige Paulsen Erickson, VP, Partner Sales, Operations, CA Technologies

I believe you need to take care of yourself in order to be prepared to handle the demands of an executive role … particularly if you are also balancing the responsibilities of being a mother and a wife. Working out regularly with a group of women at 5:30 a.m. helps me keep fit and manage the stress of my job and the weekly travel demands. I also believe in power of relationships: I spend time with my friends!

Debra Rosenthal Bush, Owner, CMO, CMIT Solutions Of Denver

First, I have to enjoy my work to achieve some feeling of balance. Determining my MVAs (most valuable activities) helps in the balance game. By leveraging my personal and professional network, I have been able to change how I work (efficiencies, focus on the right activities -- the MVAs) which free me up to pick up my kids at school, attend their activities, participate in Rotary at a higher level than a year ago and take some time for myself on top of all that.

Julie Grace Jutras, Director, Strategic Alliances, Compuware

Focus on a well-rounded lifestyle. It all starts with being thankful, humble and grateful. Each day begins with the five things I am thankful for; it sets my day in the right direction. I enjoy designing jewelry to celebrate each woman's individual essence; kick boxing/exercising, and wine tasting ... of course.

Linda Catrett Brotherton, CTO, ConnectWise

Always make time for yourself and your friends. I have a number of hobbies that are "non-technology," such as playing the piano, gardening and cooking. I have also recently purchased a 1939 bungalow -- so there are always home improvement projects.

Mary Catherine Wilson, Dir., North America Channel Marketing, Programs, Dell

At work, I prioritize the most important items and focus my energy. In my personal life, I spend time with my husband and two daughters: soccer games and dance recitals. I also find time to give back to the community through Meals on Wheels, Girl Scouts, church and school. There's nothing like a classroom of 7-year-olds to keep you on your toes! I enjoy cycling and for the past couple of years have ridden the MS150. This fall, I will run a half marathon in memory of a dear friend. Ask me about that next year!

Wendy Lucas, Area VP, Dimension Data, Canada

I invest in physical activity, spend time with friends and my two lovely dogs Mulligan and Bunker. I love the great outdoors, participating in running, biking, kayaking and trying to golf. It’' important to schedule these activities! Participation in foundations/charities that are dear to me (breast cancer). I love being in an environment focused on high performance, where people and management are passionate about what they do -- like Dimension Data. This makes everything else easier.

Linda Connly, SVP, Global Inside Sales/Midmarket Geo. U.S. Sales Division, EMC

To me, success is the ability to have a sense of balance between home, work and personal life. I truly believe it is impossible to have an equal balance with all three facets of life. The key is to ensure each element is present in your life, with the balance dictated by you -- the one in the control seat.

Kendra Krause, VP, Channel Sales, Fortinet

Family time is very important to me, and it's extremely important to dedicate time away from work to my husband and daughter. Spending time with them instantly de-stresses me and reminds me of the important things in life.

Christine Jennifer Merritt, Head of Business Development, Channel Sales NA, Google

I ask for what I want and no longer make assumptions of what expectations are. Family does come first for me, and I am clear about how and when I can travel and work on off hours. It took years for me to be comfortable knowing that results, not clocked hours, are what matter. When I am home, unless there is a true work emergency (which are hard to really justify) I am paying attention to my family. When I am at work, I am focused and 100 percent dedicated to the day and goals of my team. Balance is now.

Kirsten McCrabb, VP, Worldwide Channel Marketing, Enterprise Servers, Storage, Networking, Hewlett-Packard

I'm lucky to be a pretty balanced person. To help maintain this, I am proactive with my schedule and where I spend my time. I am very disciplined about my schedule, so I make sure I am caught up and not leaving things to be done at the last minute. I try to build downtime into my schedule and make sure I block off time to get a workout in regularly. Making the most of my personal time is also important, and I focus on activities that recharge me, like the beach, hiking and time with family.

Kristie Andrea Bell, VP, Global Technology Services Channels, Alliances, Midmarket, IBM

Take a long vacation. Take time to distance yourself from the day-to-day. It accomplishes two things: 1) refreshes you and 2) lets your team shine in their own light. I look for every opportunity to spend time with my children -- just talking, playing, putting them to bed. If asked what my favorite sound is, I'd say, "My children's laughter." That is the ultimate de-stressor. I attend every event of their favorite [activity]. I also love music, theater, swimming, my church drama team and my iPad.

Lisa Graff, VP Architecture Group, Intel

When finding balance, it's important to put a strong priority on your work and focus on that which is most important. The tyranny of the urgent can take over, but it's critical to stay focused, dispose of or eliminate the less important, and do a good job pushing decisions and autonomy downward in the organization. In terms of de-stressing, my husband and I love to travel. We've hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, scuba-dived in the South Pacific, and gone on safari in Africa.

Luanne Tierney, VP, Global Partner Marketing, Juniper

I am teaching myself how to "disconnect" and live in the moment when I am not at the office. To support that, I de-stress by working out daily and spending time with my family and friends. Not to mention, I’m trying to improve my golf game!

Jean Lozano, VP, Business to Business Marketing, NA, Kaspersky Lab

Striking a balance between my professional and personal life is a constant work in progress: 1. Eat. Sharing great meals with family and friends whether I’m cooking or not! 2. Laugh. Doing my best not to take life too seriously -- inject humor wherever I can. 3. Live. This moment is what matters most. I strive to live in the moment as best as I can.

Lisa Matherly, VP, Marketing Operations, Partner Marketing, McAfee

My family is No. 1 in my life and work/life balance is No. 1 when it comes to motivating my team at work. I have three children and a wonderful husband who is my equal partner. I stay involved with all of my kids' activities and I don’t miss the big events -- I do this not only for myself and my family but to set an example for my team. It's a crazy balance between work, kids activities and volunteering, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jenni Flinders, Vice President, U.S. Partner Group, Microsoft

Balancing personal and professional life is dependent on how you choose to make non-negotiables at work. I have always communicated openly, not only to my manager, but also to my directs and peers as to what my non-negotiables are for my kids' school and games schedules. Sending email to your team late at night or on weekends does not show that you value work/life balance. I treat my team the way I would like to be treated. I de-stress with a regular gym schedule, and I enjoy time with my daughters.

Tricia Jennett, Sr. Mgr., Partner Channel Marketing, NetApp

I have an excellent family support network that enables me to be successful in my job. I am also fortunate to work at NetApp, a company with great culture. They believe in working hard, but ultimately cultivate a family-first philosophy. Exercise is a great way to de-stress and stay healthy at the same time.

Lydia Smyers, Sr. Mgr., Partner Channel Marketing, Oracle

My family is incredibly important to me, and we have built a great tradition around planning a fun activity each weekend to build family memories.

Sheila O'Neil, VP, Channel Mgmt., Panasonic

This is a challenge, but you have to make time for yourself, because it's easy to stay focused on work. Exercise, shopping, reading and spending time with friends and family is how I de-stress.

Selina Lo, CEO, Ruckus Wireless

I play a mean game of tennis, and I go shopping. Tennis helps clear my head and rejuvenates my creative thinking process, giving me a break from focusing on my job and enabling me to return from the court with a fresher perspective. It also fuels my competitive nature, which is a benefit in running a business. Shopping is fun and mindless, and also gives my creative side more freedom.

Kelli Tolzman, President, CEO, SMTI

I make sure to disconnect on the weekend and protect family time. If I have to work on the weekends, it is done at a certain time like early in the morning or Sunday night, but I try to make sure I am disconnected on Saturday. Being that I live in Colorado, there are many opportunities for me to de-stress by being outdoors. I take the dog to the dog park, hike, ride my bike or play tennis.

Sue Smith, Sr. Dir., Partner Programs, Symantec

For balance, I try to make sure that I am involved with things I care about outside of the business world. To de-stress, I run, cycle, and am an avid Bikram yoga practitioner.