Like most working moms, Laela Widner, an Accounts Payable Specialist at Terex Global Business Services, has learned a thing or two about juggling multiple priorities. “To me, balance is ensuring that my home and work life stay separate,” she explains, adding that she’s fortunate to work at a company that offers employees the flexibility to balance their work and home lives.
Widner takes advantage of Terex’s Works for Me program, which gives employees more ownership over their schedule, and also gets to work with managers who understand that she has a life outside of the office.
She shared with Fairygodboss her pre-work morning routine, the tricks she uses to draw boundaries between work and family time, and her go-to stress relief activity (which we should all adopt...ASAP).
Tell me a bit about your current role. What are your priorities?
I am an Accounts Payable Specialist. My main function is to take care of the accounts payable for our Corporate office. I ensure their bills get paid, respond to team member and supplier inquiries and do a variety of other things to ensure everything functions correctly.
Paint a picture of a typical day in your life. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
I’m a mother of two, so my mornings involve getting up entirely too earlier to squeeze in a workout. I then wake my kids, and ensure everyone gets dressed and fed. After that I watch the kids get on the school bus and follow them out of the neighborhood and make the 35-minute drive into work, where I spend the next eight to nine hours answering calls and emails and doing various AP duties. I then drive back home, make supper, do laundry, play with the kids, get the kids ready for bed, take an hour to myself to read or watch TV before I go to sleep. It doesn’t sound that exciting in print, does it?
What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it?
To me, balance is ensuring that my home life and work life stay separate. I work when I am at work, and although I work from home sometimes, I schedule that into my day so it doesn’t interfere with the time I have set aside for my family. When I get home to my family at night, I want to know that I have time to devote to them.
Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done?
I have a great husband who is very supportive. He also works and understands that occasionally something does come up that requires me to work a little later or to put in a couple of hours on the weekend. When that happens, he is there to take charge of the kids.
What’s one misconception you think exists around work-life balance today?
That work takes top priority over everything. We all have bills to pay so we know how important work is; however, in my opinion, you work to support your family. The lucky people in the world enjoy their work, but I don’t think that should ever take priority over your family. A work/home balance is essential.
Let’s talk about your company’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does Terex aid you in achieving balance?
Terex has made many changes in the last couple of years that show it is dedicated to ensuring that its employees have balance. I do feel there is some flexibility in our working environment. I have found my managers to be very understanding with any appointments or any last minute emergency situations. The Works for Me program gives employees more ownership over their schedule, which has allowed many of us to schedule work in a way that allows more time with family. I have a work from home day and flexible scheduling day on Tuesday which means that not only can I save myself some gas money, but as I don’t have to drive home at the end of the day, I can actually be off work and already at home by the time my kids get off of school, which is fantastic.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Terex that you think they should?
We have awesome and caring people here. It is a great place to work because the people we work with make it that way.
What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?
To de-stress, I find it helpful to walk away from the thing that is causing me stress and just take a quiet breather. Five minutes away can work wonders, and generally, by the time I come back, I am ready to look at the situation again with fresh eyes.
What’s your favorite part of your work day (or your favorite aspect of your job)?
My favorite time of the day is time spent talking with my coworkers. Whether it is discussing an issue to resolve it or chatting during break time, it is just nice to communicate with people who have become my friends over the years.
What’s been your favorite career mistake?
After I graduated high school, I actually went to college to become an English Teacher. I graduated with that degree and substitute taught for a couple of years. I realized during that time that it just wasn’t the job for me. That mistake led me to a front desk job that eventually led into the Accounts Payable area. It wasn’t a place I thought I would ever be, but I found that I really enjoyed it and I have been doing it ever since. I even went back to school and recently picked up a degree in Accounting.
What’s the No. 1 piece of advice you would give to other women who want to excel professionally and personally?
Find your balance. I love work for many reasons, and I love my family more than anything. I can have both without them interfering with each other. Occasionally I may have to bend time to work when I would normally be home or to be home when I would normally work, but if you keep a cool head and plan well, it can all work out just fine.
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