Cathy Engelbert is the chief executive of a 75,000 person company yet still manages to attend most of her teenage daughter’s lacrosse games.
Ask the Deloitte chief how she manages to balance work and family—that well–worn cliché—and she references a piece of advice she received early in her career when she was deciding whether to remain in the workforce or leave it and stay home with her kids: “You can do it all as defined by you.”
“I didn’t think I could have it all,” adds Engelbert, “but when I defined what doing it all is, I said I can do this, I can juggle it.” Once she made the conscious decision to define what her “all” meant, she was able to do all the little things that mattered to her, such as coaching her daughter’s basketball team (the CEO played Division I college basketball and lacrosse).
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Still, that’s not to say that juggling work and family didn’t come with trade-offs. When Engelbert was pregnant with her children, she received just six weeks of maternity leave; her husband only took a day off after each pregnancy. It was around the births of her children that she thought “long and hard” about leaving Deloitte, but ultimately decided to stay—a decision she ended up sticking with for over three decades.
Now that she’s at the top, however, she’s making it easier for other employees—of all genders and life stages—to have it all. In September, the professional services firm announced what the company is touting as most extensive new family leave policy in the industry. The new rules will allow workers to take up to 16 fully paid weeks off to care for a family member.
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