Kelly Herod, a Principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Nishita Henry, Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Chief Innovation Officer, both speak about their jobs with a kind of a fervor that feels rooted in a place of deep, genuine enthusiasm. Both women are, clearly, among that aspirational class of people who truly love what they do. But to make such full, demanding careers work, they can’t do it alone.
“I think there is a misconception that it has to be achieved alone, “Herod said. “Communicating with your family and friends around major project deadlines and travel schedules can help them plan accordingly, help you in dividing up personal responsibilities early, and will create supportive friends and family.’”
Henry agrees that it “takes a village.” As a C-Suite leader at her organization, she also finds it’s important to refute another common myth that many people hold around well-being.
“I think a misconception about work-life integration is that there is one model of success,” she said. “Different people will have different models of personal and professional well-being, and schedules that work for them and their families. As leaders, it is important to encourage team members to be honest about what circumstances they have at home so we can understand how to best support them.”
Both Henry and Herod walked us through their personal models of success, and what has helped them get there.
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
Herod: “I am a Principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP responsible for leading our US SAP practice. In this role I am responsible for the sale and delivery of our SAP engagements across the US, our SAP technology innovation agenda and the talent experience for our US and India SAP professionals.”
In this role I have three priorities:
Helping our clients transform their businesses through SAP, Cloud, AI and numerous other next gen technologies
Working with my teams to imagine and develop next generation SAP solutions
Developing future SAP professionals and leaders
Henry: “As Chief Innovation Officer, I am responsible for driving the development of new solutions and businesses to address market needs over the medium and long term. I work with large technology organizations, engage the startup community, and drive the use of next generation technologies into practical capabilities for Deloitte’s clients. My priorities are focused on AI, Cloud, and Cyber as near-term enablers and Blockchain, 5G, and Quantum as emergent technologies that will help drive net new businesses.”
Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Herod: “I like to start my day early. At the beginning of my career I learned that early morning is the quiet time that is easiest to control and ensure the right mindset to tackle any challenges the day may bring. Over many years I have trained myself to be a morning person. The first thing I typically do is workout. The majority of the time it is a jog on the treadmill or outside. I try to make it to a spin or group class once a week. My other morning ritual is enjoying a cup of coffee. I then start my workday reviewing my schedule, preparing for meetings and responding to emails. The rest of the day is spent focused on my clients and working with teams to drive our priorities. Prior to COVID-19 I spent a lot of this time meeting with our clients and teams in person. Now that has transitioned to Zoom video sessions, so I am working hard to create new rituals such as an afternoon 15-minute break to take a quick moment outside to walk and stretch. The last thing I do before I go to sleep is watch a sitcom (Seinfeld is a favorite) to clear my mind and relax. I am finding this ritual is especially important during COVID-19 when my home is also my office. I need the sitcom to trigger my brain that it is time to relax.”
Henry: “First thing I do in the morning is work out. Starting out the day to support the body and mind is key to well-being for me. I may not always love getting out of bed, but I remind myself how great I feel when it's done and get to it! After that, every day is different; right now, I spend a lot of time with my peers soliciting input and confirming our teams are focused on the right activities. I often meet with our development teams and review progress, evaluate demos and confirm market viability. I speak with startups and tech teams to learn about new solutions and technologies and work with our teams to see how we can create new collaborations and support businesses using those solutions. Other days, I am reviewing investment requests or talking to individual team members about their career aspirations. In the evenings, in the time of COVID-19, you will find me making dinner with the family, walking the dog at our local park, or enjoying a glass of wine. We are also enjoying puzzling and watching old TV series like ‘Lost’ with my 13- and 10-year-old daughters.”
What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
Herod: “To me, it is harmony and happiness. What I have learned over the years is that I am happiest when I am doing work I enjoy, continually growing and having new experiences. When these three things are happening in my personal and work life, I am in a harmonious groove that just flows.
“By no means am I always in a state of perfect harmony and happiness, since I can’t control everything. But I have figured out that even if I may be in a situation of needing to complete an assignment that I’m less energized about, I can pivot some additional energy into other aspects of my life to offset that and still keep a good harmonious groove. All positions, assignments, and challenges in our career conclude at some point, so it is up to us to decide if we will have a positive or negative attitude during them and what we will learn from them.”
Henry: “When I was expecting my second child, I reconsidered my career over concerns about being able to integrate my work and home life. Consulting is — while incredibly rewarding — a significant time commitment, often with long hours and traveling for work. I remember one day telling my husband, ‘If only I could leave my work at the office every day at 5, then I’d be able to manage work and life and be happy.’
“As soon as I said this aloud, I knew it was betrayal of my true nature. What I had failed to consider was that while I could switch jobs, I could never turn off my drive to contribute to impactful work or achieve professionally. Even if I were in an industry that demanded fewer hours, I was bound to find ways to push the boundaries. Looking back at my decision 12 years ago, I recognize it as a moment of self-revelation. By deciding to stay at Deloitte and following my passion for client service and leadership, I’ve become more committed to my work and have also achieved my personal version of integration by finding my pace and style as a leader. Admittedly it isn’t always easy and sometimes it feels off – but the important part is recognizing that and being deliberate about restructuring.”
Attaining a holistic sense of well-being can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done?
Herod: “My husband and I are best friends and partners in everything. It’s just the two of us but one of our tricks for making it all work is sharing a productivity app and dividing up our ‘chores’. We have been married more than 17 years and very early in our marriage figured out there are certain household activities we each “love or hate”. For example, I am just not a chef, it seems like it should be a great hobby for me but every time I start to cook something, I run out of energy very quickly. So, we have an understanding that he does the grocery shopping and cooking, but I put away the groceries and have primary dish duty. As we are both very invested in our careers, as we continued to take on additional professional responsibilities, we also decided to hire companies to take care of house cleaning and lawncare, so we have more time together. The nice benefit we have found about using a productivity app is we can both enter tasks and see everything so we can reduce the amount of time talking about or asking each other to do things. Gone are the days of discussing the grocery list, instead we can talk about ideas for our next vacation or what tv show to binge watch next.”
Henry: “It takes a village in my world. First, I live close to work, so my commute is easy and I can run home for school events midday when needed. I don’t have a giant home, but the tradeoff is worth it to me. Now with the world redefining how work is done due to the COVID crisis, this might not be as important to me. Second, my husband is the primary caregiver – he is the sole owner and employee of a lacrosse company where he can set his schedule. He started this right after our youngest went to elementary school so that he had the time to focus on his business when they were in school yet be available for afterschool activities. Before that, he worked full-time but from home, which helped, but the juggle was real. Third, my parents live 90 minutes from us and come help at a moment's notice – for that we are truly blessed. I remember when our first was 6 months old and we lost our daycare option (they had to reduce the last 30 kids admitted because the city cited them for being over capacity). My mom immediately became our backup until we could find another option – we are truly lucky. Lastly, I have a great network of moms from our community with varying work situations. We help each other with carpooling and supporting our kids’ various activities. This is especially true of our dance mom network (both my girls dance competitively) – if one is traveling for work, the others help with hair; if one is late for pick up, the other brings them home, etc. Other tips: I use a meal kit delivery service for meals during the week – I love to cook, I hate to plan what to cook — and I certainly have a cleaning service. You don’t have to do it all yourself!”
What’s the one misconception you think exists around work-life integration today?
Henry: “I think a misconception about work-life integration is that there is one model of success. Different people will have different models of personal and professional well-being, and schedules that work for them and their families. As leaders, it is important to encourage team members to be honest about what circumstances they have at home so we can understand how to best support them. We should enable our professionals to determine what work-life integration means for them and provide the flexibility and resources for them to find and maintain that sense of holistic well-being.
“One step organizations can take is to utilize technology to provide team members with more choices about how they work, where they work, and when they work. By expanding individuals’ choices and setting employees up for success whether they’re working from the office, home, or elsewhere, organizations can enable a culture of well-being. I also don’t love the word “balance.” Balance to me is one or the other, often at odds with each other. Frankly, it’s more about work-life integration to me. We must work to have a life, so let’s look at it as how we can create harmony. Can I work from home for the first two hours of the day and then attend a school function and then head to the office? Can I take a conference call from the road to get to dance pickup?”
Let’s talk about your organization’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does it support you in achieving balance?
Herod: “We have a strong culture around continuous learning, which has always been one of my favorite things about Deloitte. I am a technologist. Technology is constantly changing which means there is always something to learn. I love that we have Deloitte University (our Westlake, Texas campus) created for learning and connecting. For me, Deloitte University is a ‘work spa.’ When I go there I am able to physically and mentally step away from my day to day responsibilities and focus on my development and well-being. There is a great gym and lots of outdoor activities for physical well-being, and in the evenings, we enjoy connecting at ‘The Barn.’”
Henry: “Diversity, inclusion, and well-being are at the core of Deloitte’s culture. Working with people of different backgrounds and thinking styles helps our people grow into better professionals and leaders. Our people are our greatest asset, and we want them to be successful in their professional and personal lives. I love that Deloitte is committed to creating a culture where everyone has an equal opportunity to grow, develop, succeed, and be their truest selves. Direct and transparent engagement are key to maintaining this. That’s why we host regular video town halls, open to all of Consulting professionals, designed to allow everyone to connect on our shared values, hear the latest organizational updates, and discuss trends in the industry. Deloitte also provides programming, wellness subsidies, and resources that promote mental and physical well-being, allowing our team members to be empowered to prioritize their body, mind, and purpose.”
What’s been your favorite career mistake?
Herod: “When I was in my first year as a Manager, I was given an opportunity to lead project and I wanted everything to be so perfect that I stopped making time to take care of myself. I stopped working out, getting enough sleep or taking vacation days. I “hit a wall” and experienced burn out. It showed up in me “breaking down” in the Senior Managers office and saying I just needed to quit. I thought that was going to be the end of my success but instead I will never forget how the leaders I worked with took the time to point out what I was going through was burn out and they talked me through what I was going to need to do differently to be able to pace myself and my career. I learned from that the importance of prioritizing me if I want to show up as my best self for my teams. I also learned about teamwork as leaders and asking for help. Success doesn’t come from one person it comes from the collective team and we should lean on each other. I am forever grateful to those leaders for supporting and teaching me in that personally tough moment.”
Henry: “When I was an analyst at my first consulting firm, we were doing a major migration. I was on the team responsible for all of the server architecture. We had to make sure all of the addresses and data was transferring to the right places. I was in charge of copying data from one server to another, and I accidentally entered the ‘delete’ command instead of ‘move’ and deleted a bunch of data off the server. I had to go to my boss to admit my mistake and ask the infrastructure team to restore a bunch of data from backup (I baked them cupcakes in return). From this experience, I learned the importance of asking for help, being nice to people, and double-checking your work.”
What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to others who want to excel professionally and personally?
Herod: “Leadership is about service. Focus on providing your best service to your clients, your teams, your peers, your family, your friends and personal and professional success will follow.”
Henry: “I think it is important that women, especially those in STEM, feel confident and supported to speak up and demonstrate competence early in their careers. That often means getting hands-on with technology – be the programmer, the designer, the tester. You learn through experience.”
As used here, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of Deloitte’s legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.
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