Educational background: Carleton College; Radcliffe College, BA; University of CA Berkeley, MA, PhD in political science
Current or most recent position: Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment Team, Government Accountability Office
One of the core nuggets of wisdom in my survival guide as a professional woman is balance. No matter how steep the ranks you are climbing — and this is important for men, too — establish boundaries, set time that is sacred for work, time that is sacred for family, and time that is sacred for you alone.
I am a director of the Financial Markets and Community Investment team at the Government Accounting Office — the GAO. I came to this position after a long affiliation with the World Bank. One reason I made that change is because of balance. I have a young son and wanted to spend less time traveling overseas. The GAO promotes a healthy culture that permits staff to be flexible so they can balance life outside of work — sick children, aging parents, visits to the doctor.
The system works because it honors honesty, and that encourages a more open and trustworthy relationship among colleagues. Talented managers are high performers because they are internally motivated, because they feel good about their jobs, and you don't feel good about your job if you don't have a satisfying personal/professional balance. I try to space my time off over the course of the year so I don't get too wiped out mentally and physically.
Another reason I took this position at the GAO was to tackle something fresh and new. I wanted to expand the breadth of challenges I faced. I wanted to handle complex, high-level public policy issues around the development and regulation of the financial sector. I also wanted the opportunity to be a line manager, and I wanted to move into a position that would give me a chance to deal with the widest spectrum of management issues.
It's so important not to grow rusty or complacent in any area of your life. And that's about balance, too. In this position, I am balancing everything I've learned and everything I've experienced with a whole new environment and new challenges. Growing and learning keeps us alive. This is why the MIT Sloan Fellows Program has been so crucial to me in both my professional and personal life.
As an MIT Sloan Fellow, I learned a powerful balance of skills — high-level technical skills and analytical tools as well as softer skills like understanding the culture of an organization and how to figure out what motivates your staff. I learned so much about channeling my knowledge, experience, and well-worn instincts into the creation of a good working environment, and I developed a cross-cutting perspective that gives me the facility to address issues on all fronts. In today's world, you need to access every bit of knowledge and experience at your disposal — an essential balancing act in all areas of life.