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I Lost My Dream C-Suite Job. It Helped Me Find My Purpose at Work and at Home

Aldrich Family

Your career experience is more valuable to your kids than you think.

After her C-suite role was eliminated unexpectedly, this mom discovered a new, more significant purpose at work–and at home.

When my husband and I welcomed our second child, Lauren, I wondered how we’d manage to raise two humans to be good people and succeed in our careers. Mike and I both worked over 60 hours per week, and juggling our 50/50 life together became more complex the older the kids got.

I often swallowed working mom guilt as I pursued my career while effectively attempting to attend every school function, athletic event, and recital–and I didn’t always get it right. I’ll never forget the tears flowing down my son’s face when I was the last to arrive at his school Mother’s Day party, or the call from the police–that interrupted a presentation to an international delegation–informing me that our kids had been in a car accident with their babysitter.

At work, I pursued–and achieved–a dream C-suite role at the head of a high-performing, award-winning team. But at home, I always wondered if my career had more of me than my kids did. I couldn’t have predicted how dramatically everything was about to change.

A few years into that dream role, I received an inaugural industry leadership award for “helping others to think big, break down barriers, and perform at their highest potential.” The next month, my C-suite role was eliminated.

Suddenly, I found myself locked out of work for a year by a non-compete agreement. I shifted from position to passion, doubling down on volunteer work for women’s initiatives such as Go Red. I continued mentoring others through difficult workplace situations and invested more time and energy into my role as a mom.

That year, I became president of Lauren’s high school athletic association and discovered both my daughter’s leadership skills and a new passion of my own.

The girls on her team were smart, poised, and driven to succeed, like thousands of high-performing women I had mentored before in the workplace. But unlike those women, these girls were a product of an anti-bully generation, and they weren’t willing to enter a workplace after graduation as targets for others’ gain.

For the first time, I saw that being a great mom included investing my professional skills and experience–which I had thought was stealing me from my kids–into the next generation. I knew the challenges they’d face and I had the tools to prepare–and empower–their success.

In strong partnership with their head coach, the athletic association strategically designed activities that would build both skills and resilience for the girls while giving back to other women. They got involved in their community, raising the highest team amount in the school to support breast cancer research. They pushed closed doors open while raising money on their road to Nationals. They mentored “littles” on the team to help them grow. That year, Lauren’s team even won the coveted state Team Spirit Award in recognition of their efforts and results.

But it didn’t end there for me. My mom guilt had become my mission–and it was personal.

I had gotten an inside look at the talent my daughter could inspire into our workplaces, but I also knew the challenges she’d face as she pursued her goals: bad bosses, over-competitive peers, and bullies at every level. Preparing her for life beyond high school also meant arming her for the workplaces she’d enter post-grad.

My time out of the workplace inspired me to write a book that would give Lauren everything she needed in order to successfully navigate today’s workplace–the one thing I could give my daughter that no one else could.
Instead of trying to ignore my guilt, I dove into another world and discovered that:

  1. My professional skill set was exactly what my kids needed from me to become the people I hoped they’d be–and I didn’t need a job in the workplace to apply my talents.
  2. My business experience made me a BETTER mom–and when I prioritized my children and their needs, I became a better, more passionate leader in other areas.
  3. When I “gave” from who I am instead of “guilting” myself over what I do, I invested in real change–and there was no stopping what I could accomplish in my career AND for my family.

The book I wrote for my daughter was recently published (with her blessing), and the passion project I began with Lauren and her friends now plays a key role in redesigning workplaces that are diverse, high-performing and bully-free. I am a C-suite executive again and my company is one of the strongest advocates for this message within corporate America.

Working moms might not always feel like we meet our own parenting aspirations, but we can make a difference by using our professional skill set in our homes to leave a legacy that looks less like “guilt” and more like “one of the greatest things we’ll ever do”: help our children succeed in life and the workplace.


Berta Aldrich is the managing director, CHRO, and CMO at Private Advisor Group, one of the fastest-growing financial advisory firms in the US. An award-winning leader and mother of two, Berta is committed to creating workplaces that inspire high-performing teams that work together to achieve their greatest impact, in and outside the workplace. Her first book, Winning the Talent Shift: Three Steps to Unleashing the New High Performance Workplace, is rated the No. 1 on Book Authority for Company Culture. Learn more at BertaAldrich.com.

Lifestyle

Your career experience is more valuable to your kids than you think.

After her C-suite role was eliminated unexpectedly, this mom discovered a new, more significant purpose at work–and at home.

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