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Siemens USA CEO: Women Will Always Need to Make Sacrifices for Their Careers

Office Workers In The Business District As Confidence Slides Over China SlowdownOffice Workers In The Business District As Confidence Slides Over China Slowdown

The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “What’s the biggest misconception women have about success?” is written by Judy Marks, CEO of Siemens USA.

Women in the workforce today face fewer institutional barriers than I did when I started my career more than 30 years ago. Projecting 30 years into the future, women should have it easier than women do today—and I want to help make sure they do. We have a responsibility to make things better for the next generation.

That said, I think there is a misconception that removing institutional barriers can eliminate the need to make sacrifices. That just isn’t possible. Sacrifices, tradeoffs, and tough choices fill every single path toward success.

Here are some tips for juggling it all while working your way to the top:

Work hard and like what you do
I never would have predicted the leadership responsibility that I’m challenged with today. One thing I’ve learned is that as you move up, there is an inherently different level of accountability and decision-making. There are more sacrifices. There is more travel and time away. Your time gets eaten up pretty quickly.

I’m not sure if a normal 40-hour workweek has ever existed for people who are trying to make a difference in the business world. This is why I always tell people I mentor: “Nothing is really easy. Work hard and find something you’re happy doing—because a career is an awfully long time.”


Makes choices and stick by them
There are different points in life when you have to decide what’s important to you at that moment. Is it personal or professional development? Is it reaching the next level of your career? Is it work-life balance? You are the only one who can make that call, and you should never let others judge you.

As my daughter got older, we had open discussions about my job. There have been several times in my career where I’d be away from home all week. So when the next career opportunity presented itself, my husband, daughter, and I had to make a decision. We could move where I worked or stay where we were. In other words, we could be apart more, but my daughter could graduate from the high school she started in. Or, we could be together more, but she’d have to move away from her friends and start at a new school in a new city. We chose the latter. It was a joint decision.

The time and energy I invested into my career did require me to miss things with my family. But I accepted that, and I still do. It was our normal. In fact, it’s something I’m proud of, because our family made those trades together. Still, if you want to take time off for life or personal events, do it! Take the long view. No one remembers the time I took off when my daughter was born: It’s irrelevant in what’s now a 32-year career. But I sure remember it—and I’m sure glad I did.