In my second life in business, this time as a consultant and speaker, I have given quite a few talks for companies.  Even if I talk about strategic planning, business planning, sales, marketing, general management or leadership, the most frequent question I’m asked is “how do you manage to balance your work life and your family life”? 

Progressive companies realize that all employees and not just women need to be able to balance work life and personal life to be productive. Balancing work life and personal life is a struggle and I cannot say I was entirely successful.  When Avon Cosmetics won the Hewitt/Asian Wall Street Journal Employer of the Year, the measure where the company scored lowest was ‘Quality of Life’.  While Avon associates were motivated, proud to be part of the organization and clued into corporate strategies and initiatives, they felt worked to the bone and lacking in time for their personal lives.

How would I approach improving the ‘Quality of Life’ score?

First and foremost, both the company and the employee need to be mature and responsible.  The company must understand that people are people and need personal time. Toward the end of my career at Avon, I had a light bulb moment as I sat alone in the business lounge of Cathay Pacific on a Saturday night, waiting for my flight to Hong Kong to meet with my boss on a Sunday and fly back to Manila Sunday evening.  The meeting was scheduled that way, so that I could at work on Monday.  As I looked around that empty business lounge, I thought to myself, ‘is this what I want to do for the next 5 – 10 years?’  And the answer was ‘no’.

On the other hand, employees, particularly women need to realize, the work place is just that, a work place and the main focus of the company is to turn a profit. This requires your full attention and focus. If you want to be successful at work, focus on the job, while at work. Give a 110%.  Then leave the job behind when you get home.

In my younger days, I would bring home my briefcase every night and I would work at home. Good for the company, bad for my marriage.  Later on, I left the briefcase at work and turned into the domestic diva when I got home.  I’m proud to say that I’ve become an accomplished cook despite working full time for 30 years.  But frankly, as I left work each night, I would say to myself ‘now it’s time to be a wife’.  In fact there were days, when I felt overwhelmed and I would say ‘I don’t need a husband.  I need a wife!’

Why did I need a wife?  Because in our society, men are allowed to focus on the job and not expected to be a homemaker.  A woman on the other hand, even if she works is expected to be a homemaker.  This is where companies need to give a little leeway when it comes to women in management.  In my earlier days, I would keep my personal concerns to myself while I was climbing the corporate ladder.  In fact, I had to make it clear to my boss and upper management that I should not be discounted because I was a woman. Management should not assume a woman will not take overseas assignments just because she’s married and has a family or that she will no longer work after she gives birth or that she will not focus on the job.  Happily I now know there are companies that have become enlightened.

Lastly, women in upper management should realize that you’re no longer the boss when you get home.  If you’re the boss at work, you take that attitude with you when you get home.  However, my husband set me straight one night when he said ‘let’s get this straight.  At work you’re the boss, at home, we’re equal’.  I learned two things from that comment.  First, I needed to leave my ‘bossing’ attitude behind at work.  Second, I was lucky my husband didn’t say he was the boss at home.



Malu Dybuncio is the Chief Business Development Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. She is the former country head of Avon Philippines and Avon Indonesia. She has received several awards including the Asia Pacific Agora Award.  Malu is available as a business consultant, mentor and speaker.    For inquiries, please email info@mansmith.net, call 584-5858/412-0034 or text 0918-81-168-88.  Send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.