WOMEN who perform the three-pronged role of career woman,
mother and wife know that each role can complement the other successfully.
The fulfilment that comes from having a career you are
passionate about, makes you a happy person who can offer the very best in you
to your family.
Yet the demands of this three-faceted role can easily make a
woman feel inadequate – as if our contribution, be it at home or at work, is
never quite enough or good enough.
The pressure on career women who are also mothers and
spouses is not unfamiliar. And, although I have experienced my fair share of
this, I am blessed to be able to say that I am "enough" – for both my
family and also within my career.
As career women and parents we perform quite a juggling act
I am the mother of a teenage daughter, wife of a man who has
his own full-time practice and executive head of Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF),
the biggest business within the Sanlam Group.
The path I had to take to learn to give the necessary
attention to all my commitments - and how to handle the demands and many
expectations - was not, and still is not, always easy.
But I believe that as career women and parents we should not
castigate ourselves too much when something occasionally goes wrong. After all,
success is not necessarily a perfect outcome, but a perfect attempt made in the
context of mutual love, understanding and support.
I believe that my success as a career woman, mom and woman
is surely linked to several factors: my inherent ability to organise myself and
my life; the support and understanding of my family and colleagues; clear
career and personal goals and sound planning so that I can carry it all out.
And then there is the critical matter of sheer grace...
because I believe that each person can plan their life up to point only and
that we do not directly control the rest.
As an actuary, I definitely entered a man's world in 1985
when I was appointed to actuarial in Sanlam. My interest in and passion for my
work and faith that others had in me made it possible for me to climb the
so-called career ladder quite rapidly, so I quickly had to make adjustments at
My daughter was still small when my career started demanding
a lot from me. My husband was incredibly supportive and throughout it all I
also relied on the help of an experienced au pair.
What I often find about women and mothers with full-time
careers is that we understand the necessity to play a critical role in our
children's lives, and our sense of duty is of such a nature that we delegate
that with which we are comfortable.
So, we will rely on help but still accept final
responsibility for ensuring that homework has been done and that school matters
get the necessary attention.
To be successful at this was, and still is, not always easy.
I think that a mother who is also a career woman has to handle more logistical
matters than a man in the same career.
It is often necessary to compromise and make up for lost
time later on.
However, if a family learns to understand the context of a
mother's contribution completely and if there is a close bond and good
communication it is indeed possible to handle the logistics so that we, as
women, can be successful in both a career and family context.
If I had allowed myself to be tripped up by the
career-related and personal challenges that came my way, I definitely would not
have experienced fulfilment and success in my career.
In addition, had my family life not been based on love,
support and sound communication I would not have achieved what I have in my
role as a mother, or in my career.
Women are proven organisers and I believe that in the end
family and career success are linked to the quality of the plan that one has in
place. However, it remains important to admit that no plan is necessarily 100%
I still strive after perfection, but can forgive myself for
sometimes arriving late at a dance venue, prize-giving or the netball court, or
when I could not attend a school function because a business trip had to be
The knowledge that my family forgives me is what carries me.
The opposite is also true, though. Like every working mother
I have also happily forgone work functions and trips because my first priority
at that stage was my family. My family knows this and we are all comfortable
with the mutual sacrifices.
As career women with a good income, our children enjoy
educational opportunities that are not possible for everyone. This is something
to be humble about and thankful for. At the same time, in pursuing our careers
we get the opportunity to lead fulfilled lives.
One could hardly ask for more.
* Lizé Lambrechts is executive head of Sanlam Personal
Finance. She is the last guest columnist taking part in Fin24's
Women's Month campaign celebrating women in business.
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- Glenda Noemdoe, senior operations manager for Metropolitan WellnessThe female factor
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- Kate van Niekerk, marketing manager of Norcros SASeducer or slavemaster
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- Mimi Viviers, key accounts executive at Connection TelecomSweet and simple
- Sandy Wilde, head of Sanlam icover
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- Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO of the iOpener Institute for People and Performance
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- Karen Short, founder and chairperson of By Word of
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- Anli Kotzé,
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- Lulu Letlape
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- Marteen Michau, head of fiduciary and tax at Sanlam
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