No One Can Have It All
By Eve Tahmincioglu
It’s been nearly four years since The Atlantic’s article titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” ignited a national conversation, and we’ve definitely come a long way.
Today, it is more acceptable for women to say having it all is a pipe dream. In fact, you need to have that mindset if you want to climb the ladder in your career, advised Gail Mandel, president and CEO of Wyndham Exchange & Rentals.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who truly has it all,” she said. “It’s all about choice, and it’s such a personal decision as how you want to structure your life. What works for one person won’t work for another.”
Mandel was promoted to her position earlier this year, and she now oversees Wyndham’s RCI, the largest timeshare vacation exchange in the world with 3.7 million members in more than 100 countries.
There are four things that are most important if you want to make work-life fit a reality, said Mandel, who has two sons, 14 and 11, and a husband of 18 years.
- embrace choices
- find flexibility
- get support at home
Working parents make choices everyday, she said, so you need to know how to prioritize. “If tomorrow one of my children wakes up sick, the day I thought I was going to have, or my husband was going to have,” she explained, goes out the window. “We have to be flexible and have to modify to deal with unexpected circumstances.”
Luckily, she has a husband who’s always been supportive of her career, and she’s also had a supportive employer. “The flexibility that I’ve been given has been extremely important,” she said. “I found a culture in 1993 that works for me and has worked for me. This is a culture of respect and inclusion.”
Mandel, like many working parents, found that work-life issues changed how she approached her job. “There were times when my children were young that I needed to maybe take on a little less responsibility at work even though I may have been ready for the next level or promotion,” she recounted. “I held myself back and the company was comfortable with that.”
But, she maintained, that comfort level didn’t just happen. “Over the years I had consistently delivered and [built] up my reputation of having a strong work ethic. The company has been flexible with me but I’ve also delivered on my promise to them to be the best that I can.”
She also holds herself to a high standard with her family. “Everyday I make choices; often times I leave around dinner time so I can go to one of my son’s basketball games, or baseball game. And then I’ll go back in and do my work. But it’s very important to communicate with my team and everyone I’m working but I don’t expect them to do the same thing.”
While having it all is out of reach, she said, “I think it’s possible to have a lot.”