The work of an event marketer is challenging enough, let alone trying to achieve that elusive goal of work/life balance. What is that anyway? And is it even possible?
Besides handling all the demands of co-workers and clients, women have the added stress of managing their homes and children, often without an equal partner to share the burden.
Michelle Donovan, director-promotions, sponsorships and events at LG Electronics, who participated in one of our Women in Events roundtable discussions this year, put it this way: “There are a lot of things that make it easier now. You have your technology and you can find good people to help you, but one of the biggest challenges about being a woman in this industry is being respected for what I do but also knowing that I’m a mom at the end of the day, too. It doesn’t discount how well I do my job. I just have a separate job when I get home. So that, to me, is the biggest challenge of being a woman in the industry.”
Donovan isn’t alone. And the challenge of finding balance certainly isn’t unique to the event marketing industry. But our roundtable participants had a lot to say about how they achieve it—or at least attempt to. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Forget work/life balance
For Erin Keating, senior manager-experiential marketing at Audi, it’s more about work/life prioritization. “Rather than trying to find this balance, which you can make yourself nuts doing, there are times where you have to say, ‘Right now my priority is my health, so I’m going to work out.’ Or, ‘Right now, my priority is my sanity, so I’m going to do yoga, or I’m going to pray, or I’m going to write in my journal,’” she says. “Taking that approach throughout the day is a life changer.”
2. Be present in the moment, whatever it is
Amy Green, marketing development specialist at Ford, describes her life as more of a juggling act than a balancing act. “If I’m in a meeting at work, I’m present 100 percent, and my team knows they have my full attention,” she says. “And then if I’m home, my kids know the same thing. If it’s LEGO night or pizza and movie night, I’m in it hardcore. But you have to be able to make that shift and not feel like you have to be everything to everyone and know when you need to recharge.”
3. Harness technology for day-to-day work
Technology keeps women connected to home as well as the office. Thanks to technology, Christine Ngo, digital brand manager at Mountain Dew can visit her parents in California and still be tapped into the action at work on the East Coast. “I can be on email, join conference calls, and still have a little bit more family time,” she says.
4. Take ownership
Many men and women blame the demands of their job for their lack of balance, but most of the women agreed: finding a work/life balance is up to you and is what you make of it. “Own your accomplishments and own your balance and what you need to do to maintain the life you want to live and your priorities,” says Stacy Lambatos, senior director-event marketing and strategy at AOL.
Alix Mills, team leader-global events at Bloomberg, agrees. “Your work/life is 100 percent up to you, and it’s the way you position it and how you handle it that sets you apart from everybody else.”
5. Find your own path
For Abby Green, executive director-U.S. private events at JP Morgan Chase, that means “staying in your own lane of traffic… What’s good for me probably isn’t good for you,” she says. “If someone on my team is leaving every day at 5 p.m., that doesn’t necessarily mean you should also leave at 5 p.m. You have to work closely with your team and your manager to work something out that is right for you.”
6. Respect boundaries
If Friday night with the family is your thing, like it is for Karen Fiester, head of brand marketing events at Google, then make that priority known to your team. “Whatever it is, whether it is Soul Cycle every Wednesday at 5 p.m. or a weekly therapy session, we as a team know and respect everyone else’s rhythms and help accommodate them because as much as we all have to make our own boundaries and own it, it’s a lot easier when you feel like you’re in a supportive environment.”