Female execs discuss the challenges of 2020

Leaders from Jenny Craig, enVista and Rocksbox on balancing work, family and other responsibilities

Along with upending lives, the pandemic also altered livelihoods. Many workers who could work remotely left their offices to set up operations at home. To be sure, they recognize they’re fortunate to have had this option. At the same time, these new arrangements required many — especially women — to juggle work, family and other responsibilities, often all at once.

We spoke with several women in leadership roles about how they’ve balanced multiple responsibilities over the past year. Their comments are lightly edited for space and clarity.

Sarah Hoffmann is chief marketing officer with Jenny Craig Inc., a weight management and nutrition company.

Sarah Hoffman headshot
Sarah Hoffman,
chief marketing officer with Jenny Craig Inc.

What’s been your biggest work from home challenge?

Avoiding the feeling of Groundhog Day, every day. I miss social connections, and I try to create balance by allowing time for virtual social conversation, along with all my meetings.

How has working from home changed working relationships?

I started my current job during the pandemic and still have not met most of my team in person. We have created activities for interactive virtual team bonding, such as team trivia. While it will never replace being in person, we have been able to create a positive experience.

What time of day are you most productive?

The morning. I focus on getting key work done when I’m fresh (and before Zoom meetings).

Have you gained a new skill — personal or professional — in the past year?

One of the best skills I’ve learned is how to do virtual shoots. I would have never imagined sitting in California and managing a shoot on the East Coast, but the pandemic forced us to figure out how to work differently. I am thankful for all of the great technology available that enabled us to do this.

When it comes to work, what would you like the new normal to look like?

I love the structure of getting dressed up for work, going to the office and seeing my co-workers. I also like the flexibility of working from home. My ideal new normal would be the optionality for both.

Deanna Kaufman is vice president of sales with enVista, a provider of supply chain solutions.

Deanna Kaufman headshot
Deanna Kaufman,
vice president of sales with enVista

What has been most personally challenging about the ways in which work changed over the past year?

Trying to support my child in remote learning. I am fortunate to have a go-getter, but when attending virtual school her teacher also had to manage in-class students. The virtual students didn’t have the course materials or approach curated to what they need and wound up needing to do many self-directed projects. I often joke that I graduated 4th and 5th grade all over again, about which I am proud!

I work all day and then help my child at night; it’s not really possible to help in the daytime. I really feel for the parents trying to juggle work with getting their children through school, not to mention those who aren’t privileged enough to be able to work from home. Parents are facing some really hard choices right now.

What’s been your biggest WFH challenge?

I have been blessed to have been working from home for the last 10 years but that was largely broken up with business travel until the pandemic hit. I miss being with my customers, seeing their business opportunities and building relationships.

Second, I support a team, and not being able to coach or support them in person is difficult. We do everything we can to be successful while not being together, but it is not easy and takes a lot of work, empathy and patience.

What time of day are you most productive?

I am a night owl by nature, so this is surprising, but I am most productive from six to eight or nine in the morning. Once the business day starts, we are going all day and often into the evening.

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Have you gained a new skill, personal or professional, in the past year?

I feel like I’ve become something of a Zoom and Teams expert. I can run any web meeting, share files, edit and collaborate in ways I didn’t before. It has become second nature — something I never thought I’d say!

On a personal level, I have focused on supporting my child in her endeavors with the Girl Scouts and in competitive swimming by furthering my training. I recently became certified to take our troop tent camping and am progressing as a swim official with USA Swimming.

When it comes to work, what would you like the new normal to look like?

My ideal state is to continue to use remote customers meetings and reduce travel to when it’s necessary, such as new relationships, annual business reviews and major project launches.

I’d like personnel who customarily work at the office to have the option to work from home more frequently if they can meet their business objectives.

Meaghan Rose is founder and CEO of Rocksbox, a jewelry rental subscription service that offers access to an unlimited closet of designer jewelry.

Meaghan Rose headshot
Meaghan Rose,
founder and CEO of Rocksbox

What has been most personally challenging about the ways in which work changed over the past year?

I love the people I work with and miss seeing them and making those in-person connections! I do love that with work-from-home we've had a more intimate look into each other’s lives, whether it’s babies and kids popping into view, cats running across keyboards or just seeing someone’s home. There has been a different kind of personal connection that we've made over this past year.

What’s been your biggest WFH challenge?

I've had to be more deliberate to create separation between work and home. For a while, I would realize at the end of the day that I had been in the same spot for hours, which was draining and exhausting. Being on Zoom all day also takes a toll. I've found that taking breaks to get outside helps me stay recharged, and I come back more focused and energized.

How has working from home changed working relationships?

In some ways working from home has brought us closer together, because we've had to be extra thoughtful and deliberate about creating opportunities for connection. And because we have come through an extreme shared experience together.

What time of day are you most productive?

4:30 to 5:30 because I'm trying to wrap everything up before heading downstairs to have dinner with my kids!

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