For many professional women, trying to balance a demanding work schedule with a family life is nearly impossible, yet without some balance there would be a lot less women CEOs, entrepreneurs and politicians.
Many professional women have found their own methods of "having it all." Whether it's hiring a full-time housekeeper or learning when to turn down assignments, working women have created ways to make it work.
That was the message heard Thursday from a panel of Hispanic women professionals at Hispanic Business magazine's 2007 Woman of the Year Awards Gala in Las Vegas.
The panel discussion, called "Action Steps for Hispanic Women and Balancing Work With Real Life" was lead by Anne Marie Estevez, a 2006 WOY finalist and a labor attorney at Morgan Lewis & Bockius in Miami.
One of the biggest challenges facing the over-achiever, which could describe all seven panel members, is learning when to say "no."
"You don't have to have that super woman syndrome," says Gisel Ruiz, a vice president and general manager at Wal-Mart. "Especially if you have a conflict where you have to choose between going to an important event with your children versus taking on an assignment, don't be afraid to say no."
For Sofia Adrogue, a partner at a Houston law firm, striking the perfect balance between work and family life is a misnomer. Knowing how to prioritize is what works best, she says.
"I prioritize as necessary," said Ms. Adrogue a married mother of three young children. I have three passions, my children, my profession and my community, and not always in that order; you know when your three-year-old is crying on the phone you have to pick up the phone."
Balance, most panelists agreed, is not stable. Your personal and professional life is constantly changing.
"When my daughter was born my first priority was to be with her, " said Grace Lieblien, a 2007 WOY finalist and a chief vehicle engineer at General Motors. "Later on, when I got new assignments, I spent a lot of time on that; balance ebbs and flows, it's constantly changing."
But juggling numerous priorities can be very stressful. It's important to get extra help to relieve some of that stress.
"I saw too many women taking very stressful vacations" said Dr. Ruth Zambrana, a professor of Women's Studies and Director of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland and a 2007 WOY finalist. "You have a baby sitter, even when your home, it's the daily life where you need your support."
For Maria Azua, vice-president of technology and innovation at IBM and a 2007 WOY finalist, handing over some of her responsibilities took some getting used to.
"I had the super woman syndrome," explained Ms. Azua. "I found myself pre-cleaning the day the cleaning lady came, that's when I realized I had a problem."
Ms. Azua said it took a long time to give up some control and not feel guilty about not doing the housework.
"It's OK to have a maid and it's OK to not clean the house before she comes," said Ms. Azua.
Today, making the most of her time off is one of her top priorities.
"My husband and I take a one month vacation out of the year," said Ms. Azua. "I spend 11 months working for that one month. You know you only come around once."
The panel discussion was a part of the 2007 Hispanic Business magazine Women of the Year Awards at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The fifth annual WOY also featured a lineup of key note speakers discussing a range of topics from diversity in the workplace to negotiating skills.
The daytime sessions were followed by an evening gala honoring 20 of the most successful and influential Hispanic women in America.
Nearly 500 people gathered at Caesars Palace to honor the 20 women who have set a standard of excellence for up-and-coming business leaders in the Hispanic Community.
This year's Women of the Year award went to Cuban-born Maria Elena Lagomasino, chief executive officer of Asset Management Advisors LLC.
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