“Work-life balance can be complex at times, so I like to focus on life harmony,” says Nicole L. Wells, Head of Strategic Retail Operations at Santander. “This allows me to target all spaces of my life with the appropriate attention at the appropriate time without the pressures of equality. Women can have it all, just not at the same time, is my model of understanding.”
Currently bi-coastal, working in Los Angeles and Boston, Nicole has a lot to juggle, overseeing strategies for simplification and process improvement for the branch network. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented even more obstacles, with plenty of virtual meetings.
That’s on top of managing her personal life. Nicole is also a mother who “makes every effort to be supportive and engaged with my daughter.”
“This includes giving my undivided attention and care to the things that are important to her,” she says. “As a leader, emotional intelligence is important when you are tasked with getting things done through the efforts of others.”
Nicole recognizes the importance of self-care, too. “I make it a priority to start my day in meditation and reflection and end my nights where I allow my body to wind down in preparation for restful sleep,” she says, adding that she also enjoys golfing and considers it therapeutic.
“Since I can’t always be on the golf course during stressful times, I will also leverage meditation, yoga and exercise to maintain harmony. My friends, family and dogs are also important stress relievers since they remind me of what’s most valuable in my life.”
Fortunately, according to the 26-year veteran of the financial service experience sector, Santander has a supportive culture that encourages colleagues to take personal time to hit the refresh button and recharge. “You ultimately allow for a more productive workforce when you demonstrate the importance of time off,” Nicole says.
Nicole also offers advice for striking that pivotal work-life balance. “It’s easy to blur the lines of excessive work particularly in this pandemic environment where the markers of driving to and from work were the indicators to turn on/turn off work mode.”
“Even before COVID-19, I made it a practice to set certain boundaries that aid in the idea of going from work to something else in your life that deserves your time. For example, I will not bring my laptop into my bedroom. I also leverage my calendar as an effective tool to protect time that’s for my enrichment or family events. It’s important you find and own your own space in how you guard what’s important to you. How you spend your time will always be an indicator of what you value.”
“Burnout is a very real threat for executives, particularly women,” she says. “It’s necessary to ensure a healthy approach to overall well-being. I think it is critical to understand where you spend your time and the value it adds back in the bigger scheme of things.”
What advice would Nicole give to other working mothers and high-achieving professionals?
“It’s always about the journey! Keep showing up and remember to be present in the moment for whatever you do.”
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