Managing career priorities alongside life ones can be difficult no matter what field you’re in, but finance roles have developed a reputation for making work-life balance especially tricky.
Luckily for Jennifer McCormick, a senior director of finance at United Technologies Corporation’s Pratt & Whitney, the stereotypes don’t hold true — far from it. Women who work here say that “UTC is incredibly supportive to working mothers, fathers, and families” and that “the commitment to work-life balance is visible at the very top of the organization.”
Recently, McCormick gave Fairygodboss a peek at how, with the support of an understanding work culture, she’s able to use her time to push forward professional and personal goals. Check out a day in her life below!
Who: Jennifer McCormick
What: Senior Director of Finance at Pratt & Whitney/UTC; wife and mother of 2
Where: Central Connecticut
My alarm sounds and I immediately think “How is Monday here again already?!”… I hit snooze, but instead of falling back asleep, I just lay there thinking about my renewed commitment to self-care and fitness which motivates me to get up for HIIT training at the 4:40 buzzer. You see, before children, I started most days with exercise; it was my healthy pleasure producing habit. In recent years I pushed that practice off of my priority list allowing me to devote more time and energy to developing in my career while transitioning into motherhood. Now here I am, four year postpartum, a little less sleep deprived and finally willing to admit how much I miss the physical and mental benefits of working up a sweat each day; benefits that include reduced stress and increased productivity, in addition to the obvious physical ones. I have started carving out the time for those activities again, but that adjustment back to pre-dawn wake-ups is still tough!
Once the sleep is washed off my face, I do a quick check of emails for any issues that may have come up in the night that need my immediate attention. Fortunately all was calm this early Monday morning.
Just as I finish my workout, my 7 year-old son awakes too early and asks that I tuck him back into bed for more rest. I happily oblige his sweet request while resisting the urge to crawl under the covers with him for a snuggle and a nap.
I do another quick check of emails and nothing urgent has arrived in my inbox.
Once I am cleaned up and ready for the day, I know this is where what little complete control I have over my day ends…
My husband and I both have demanding careers in different fields of work. Over the last few years we have found that for each of us to successfully maneuver through days, weeks and months as professionals and parents, we need to maintain a strong partnership with one another; a partnership that consists of frequent two-way communications and each of us maintaining the ability be agile and adaptable.
Before the start of each week, and again each night, my husband and I review our family’s obligations and needs for the next week/day and compare those to our business priorities and commitments. We then determine how we will integrate the professional and personal in ways that results in most priority accomplishments and the least disruption for us both. Well, that’s the plan, but we all know that neither work nor life always goes as expected... (cue those agile adaptability skills).
My husband and I wake the kids and help them get washed and dressed. On days when neither my husband nor I are traveling for business, the morning routine is something we actively work together in order to get the two of us, two children and three dogs fed and ready and to our respective locations for the day – and on time! Exactly how this comes together can vary day-to-day depending on our individual professional commitments and the children’s needs.
Today I consider it fairly typical for our new summer schedule to which we are all becoming accustomed. This morning starts rather smoothly, with both children bouncing out of their beds excited for the start of an exciting week at their summer camps. About half way through this process, my husband wisely chooses to leave the hair combing and head-to-toe sun screen applications to me while he starts preparing breakfast for the kids and the dogs.
My children are downstairs eating breakfast while I clean up and make beds after the morning madness. I also put away the kid’s clean laundry that I folded the night before, and although I’d much prefer to complete the job, I decide that the clean clothes belonging to us adults will have to remain folded and in the laundry basket until I have more time tonight.
I have finally made it down to the kitchen where I pack the bags of gear we need to get through our days at summer camp and the office. I also prepare a quick on-the-go breakfast for me and my husband.
I am on the road. During the summer months my son and daughter have different drop-off locations, each about fifteen minutes from home, but in opposite directions. Today I am taking my daughter to her camp. I enjoy the uninterrupted one-on-one time I get with each child during these brief morning drives.
I kiss my beautiful little girl goodbye and begin the 35 minute commute to the office. Looking at the clock I realize that I am going to have to skip my daily drive through the Dunkin Donuts window to grab coffee. During this commute I call into my business unit’s standing Monday 8 o’clock leadership staff meeting. I find value in starting the week with a recap of recent critical activity, aligning on near-term priorities and engaging in open communications with the leadership team.
I arrive at the office in time for the second of five meetings that I have scheduled before noon: a financial quarter close review of the balance sheet, a strategic accounting discussion, a one-on-one meeting with a direct report and the kick-off of an internal audit. Somewhere in between one of those early meetings I found five minutes to get a cup of much needed coffee.
Almost before I know it, lunchtime arrives. I run down to the office cafeteria to grab a sandwich and bring it back to my office. I am very pleased to have sixty unscheduled minutes and choose to utilize the time for work because when I am productively working my head clears and my stress level declines. Today I work open actions, answer emails and return calls, including one to my veterinarian to further discuss a procedure that one of my Labrador Retrievers is undergoing tomorrow.
I begin my last four scheduled meetings of the day: a talent recruitment interview, an independent auditor review, a staffing discussion with one of my team leads and a federal Cost Accounting Standards meeting.
After school activities are another family responsibility for which my husband and I share in equally. Since my calendar was clear after four thirty today I agreed to take our children to this week’s swimming lesson. After I finish up my cost accounting meeting I quickly leave the office to pick up both children. With a quick run out of the office, my mind is still very much engaged in work so I make some necessary professional calls during the drive to my daughter’s preschool camp.
After picking up my daughter and then driving to the neighboring town to pick up my son, we finally arrive at the pool. It takes more time than it should to get the kids showered and changed before meeting up with their coach. During each lesson I continue to conduct business poolside through email and text exchanges.
We arrive home and my husband has dinner ready for the kids. On this particular night the kids eat dinner while they talk and catch up with their dad and I start more laundry (does it ever end?) and gather what is needed for my dog’s veterinary appointment tomorrow.
Sitting down together as a family of four for a weeknight meal is rare, and I have learned to let go of this nightly expectation. With our lifestyle, driven by both choice and circumstance, our family unit operates best when we allow for nights to have one less scheduled demand. This removes some stress and enables each of the four of us to be more flexible with how we spend our evenings, whether that is working late, attending a professional function or participating in extracurricular activities.
We begin the bedtime routine, a process that we do as a family when we are all home. We enjoy this silly, and sometimes frustrating (why do kids move so slowly?!), time together each night and make this healthy family time.
The kids are tucked in bed and I immediately move into preparations for tomorrow, which includes organizing backpacks and running another load of wash while my spouse cleans the kitchen. I also tidy up the house in preparation for the housecleaner to work her magic tomorrow. I have found that outsourcing this necessary, but unpleasant work is essential in order to free up weekend time for family; therefore we keep it a priority in the family budget.
I sit down and begin my typical “night shift” in the home office. I often take this time of day to answer emails, complete deliverables, review various payment and funding approval request and prepare for the following day. Tonight I do a little of each while I pick at the light dinner next to my laptop.
Although there is more work to do and emails to be answered, my body and mind are tired and I begin to think about my morning alarm. Upon realizing that it is not too far away I head to bed, but not before walking past that laundry basket still filled with my clean laundry ** sigh**. I decide then that task will have to wait a bit longer - tomorrow is another day…
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