Millennium Mom

Friday, February 6, 2009

Managing a dual career

Typically when you are a working mom, you are in a dual-career household. Meaning both your and your spouse/partner work in some fashion. There are some instances where the dad is a "stay at home dad" but they are certainly in the minority.

As I talk in my book and have shared in many blogs, there are pros and cons to being in a dual career. Hopefully some of the positives you have experienced are - both parents in jobs that they love and enjoy doing, more financial freedom, challenges and constant learning for both people, and so on. On the negative side, dual-career brings lots of scheduling issues, and at times one person have to make sacrifices for the other. Let me illustrate a bit.

My husband and I are fortunate (I think) in that we work for the same company. Some may say this is bad; putting all your eggs in one basket, no distance, too risky, etc. We work for a pretty stable company, that is very good to its employees and actually encourages dual-career. Let me explain a bit. P&G is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. While I have come to love Cincinnati, it is not a "destination" city in America. Which means it is hard to get people to come there (if they are single) and harder to keep them there. So you can imagine, that when one finds a mate within P&G the chances of them staying go up significantly. That was certainly the case with Arnie and I.

Because they encourage marriage of employees (or at least don't discourage it), they have ways of managing them, as there are so many. For instance, each time one of us is due to change assignments or get promoted, we will get asked "who is the lead career." You may be thinking, they have no right to ask you that, but I actually like it. It makes Arnie and I talk about our careers and how to manage them as a family. At one point it was my career, and that got us moved to Brussels. Then it was Arnie's and it got him a promotion while I was on maternity leave with Ben, and now it is back to mine. We flex according to where we are in our careers and our family situation. I encourage any of you out there in dual-careers to think about that question of who is the lead career, as it will allow you to see the present and future as you plan things out.

I said I think we are fortunate because I have a lot of colleagues who's spouses work at other firms or companies. This can be hard to manage. What do you do when your company needs you to move? or asks you to? Do you ask your husband to sacrifice and uproot him from his job? Do you give up the amazing opportunity? This is why it is so important to talk through this. The good news is companies are more flexible than ever. I moderated a panel a couple of weeks back and one women on it worked from her home in New Hampshire. Her husband had to do a field assignment there, and P&G allowed her to do a location free assignment. Yes, she has to be in Cincy for one week of the month, but it allowed her husband to continue on his career path, as well as herself.

Talk to your spouse, and then once you are forced to cross a certain bridge talk to your employer. Provide some options for how you may manage your role differently, given your family situation and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised. Also remember that the next time your are managing someone who is in a dual-career. It is not always easy, and you don't want to lose a great employee, so be flexible and see how you can all work it out.


  • Another way to have a successful dual career is if one or both have a work at home business. I'm involved in a home business that works where ever I live, so he can be transferred and my job is unaffected. I choose my own hours, so I can be totally involved with my kids. I'd love to share it with you, email me at

    By Blogger Joanne, At February 6, 2009 at 9:28 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home