If you’re determined, even a CEO can have work-life balance

From ‘giving it a go’ to CEO

Jacqueline is up for a good challenge. When she started out at market research agency Colmar Brunton she was lukewarm about the idea of working there, and gave it six months. Fast forward and Jacqueline becomes the Managing Director of the Auckland office. So much for just ‘giving it a go’.

But Jacqueline isn’t one to sit still, you can tell that she’s always hungry for the next adventure. That’s how running the Auckland agency turned into running the whole show, when Jacqueline was appointed CEO by Dick Brunton himself.

It was certainly a challenge. The pressure was boiling to increase revenue and push down costs. The business itself was changing, from a start-up into the New Zealand arm of a global operation. The airmiles clocked up as Jacqueline flew to Asia and Africa. And there were Declan, Kyle and Lily, her three children.

Work-life balance as CEO

When I meet Jacqueline for coffee, she arrives with Kyle, who is off school for the holidays, and who is super polite and patient while we talk. What did he think of his mum being away so often? He scrunches up his nose. ‘It was hard,’ Jacqueline translates. ‘I missed Lily’s first day of school, I certainly had to make sacrifices.’

We discuss work-life balance a little more, and I ask Jacqueline if she thinks the concept is possible for a CEO. ‘It depends on your Board,’ she says. But if you’re determined, you can do it. ‘Have a plan and be transparent,’ Jacqueline counsels.

After nearly half a decade in charge of the business, Jacqueline was ready for her next challenge. The only problem? She had no idea what to do next.

People, Purpose and Living your Values

Jacqueline regrouped, considering the experience, insights and values that set her apart. For Jacqueline, people are at the heart of any business, so that was high on the list. Having a sense of purpose, making a difference in the world, that was essential too. Living authentically and in line with her values? A non-negotiable.

Taking some time away from it all, Jacqueline visualized what her future looked at. In combination with these priorities, she had a plan.

Together with a friend, Jacqueline launched The Purpose Business Ltd, a strategic consultancy specialising in helping businesses define and activate their core purpose. Like running any business, it is hard, even for someone with Jacqueline’s tenacity and experience. There has been an adjustment going from a multinational firm to a two-person start up.


The Check-In

But running her own company has enabled Jacqueline to take control and drive the business forward with purpose and her own values. It has given her an opportunity to try new things and, something we don’t get all that often, a chance to redefine herself.

One year in to owning her own business, which has been easier? ‘What I’m doing now,’ Jacqueline answers, without skipping a beat. ‘When you’re living your purpose, no matter how tough it gets, it’s worth it.’ Beside her, Kyle nods and smiles his agreement.