Advice from Brigit Simler, Human Capital Management Division
Brigit Simler, head of Human Capital Management for EMEA, shares four pieces of advice that she would give her younger self.
1. Be true to yourself − that's what makes you unique and an individual, so don’t seek to change or become something that you don’t want to be. Have the courage in your convictions and be prepared to speak up at the right time. Know what your core values are and use them to direct the way in which you lead and influence at work.
2. Set your boundaries – take time to think about how you are going to manage balancing the demands of your career and your family, and don’t be lulled into thinking that you can have it all in both at the same time. Once you start a family, there will be some personal choices that you will have to make and consequences for those choices, but remember nothing is forever. Life is a series of phases, and with those phases will come a need to reassess priorities over time. Invest time in doing your thinking on this up front so that you are clear with yourself first and then others on what is most important to you and that you communicate this. The early years of being a parent will be a challenging time as you get used to juggling your increasing responsibilities as well as the added challenge of desperately trying to get some sleep. You will get better at the juggling but understand that that takes time and experience. The most important advice I can give you is to ensure that you don’t leave any room for regret in relation to your children - don’t miss dropping your daughter at secondary school on her first day; don’t arrive at your son’s first sports day after all the races have finished and definitely don’t send your children to school in fancy dress on the wrong day because you didn’t pay attention to the school letters! Your job is important but there is nothing more important than your family and those precious moments – don’t miss them.
3. Be clear on how you are viewed – don’t waste hours or nervous energy worrying about what people think about you. Don’t second guess, make assumptions or jump to the wrong conclusion – it is all counterproductive and takes up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. Seek out the feedback – don’t wait for it to be given and don’t be fearful of it. You will find that those who are prepared to give it have your best interests at heart. Once you gain the feedback, believe it and trust those that have taken the time to give it to you. Don’t avoid talking about yourself because you find it uncomfortable – practice it and you will get better at it.
4. Stop punishing yourself and cut out the guilt − both in relation to your kids as well as your work. In relation to your children you can only be the best mother that you can be – you can’t be more than that and remember you have made some choices. On the positive side – as a full time working parent, you will be a strong role model for your children particularly to, as she likes to refer to herself, “your one and only daughter Maya,” who will hopefully grow to believe that she can do anything she choses in life and that there are no limits. In terms of your work – you are hardworking and committed and give your very best to the firm – I can assure you that any guilt you may feel about for example leaving at night to read to you children is entirely self-imposed. Worry about things you can influence and not those you can’t. Leave your work at your real or virtual desk at night– don’t take it home. Hopefully this is really something that you learn how to do – it is hard for me to offer you meaningful advice as this one is a nut I still have to crack! Work in progress.