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March 21, 2007

CEO BALANCE

Amy Dunkin

Here at BusinessWeek, we often cross paths with the nation's highest level working parents, corporate CEOs. And we wonder: How do they achieve work-life balance in their own hectic lives?

Stacy Sass McAnulty, BW's director of worldwide special advertising sections, heard Sony Corp. CEO Sir Howard Stringer address this question at a recent TV taping. (By the way, Stacy's also a leader in our corporate women's network at The McGraw-Hill Cos., and she's mother of Ryan, 11, and Charlotte, 8.)

I asked Stacy to report back to us on what Sir Howard said.

Recently, I was in the audience at a live taping of CEO Exchange, a special series that will air this spring on PBS. (Full disclosure: This show is in association with BusinessWeek with excerpts to air on BusinessWeek TV).

The taping, held at New York City?? Baruch College, featured Sir Howard Springer, CEO of SONY, and Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy. Both students and attendees were able to ask questions.

One student asked Howard Stringer in view of his need to travel extensively between London, Japan, and the US, what that meant for him. He answered that one thing he had had to sacrifice was time with his family. He noted his wife was in the audience, and that these days, he has his kids come to see him where he is. So for example, his daughter was coming to NY the next day because he would be in the city for a few days.

What became apparent in subsequent discussions from both CEOs was that personal time was pretty hard to come by. Stringer talked about the differences in the Japanese and U.S. career cultures. The Japanese work much longer hours including one weekend day, and the idea of a great deal of leisure time, or time spent in their homes with their families, is still not part of their culture. He also noted that many employees, manager level really, were still mostly male (something he hoped to help change).

This was in stark contrast to the recent changes at Best Buy and their new flexible hours program being implemented at all levels of the company. Mr. Anderson gave the example of two women (working mothers) promoted to manager who were now able to job share, since neither due to child care commitments could work the hours required.

08:25 AM

Work/Life

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As a working mother and business owner, I can truly understand the struggle to find any personal time.

With the onset of our technology dependence like Internet and blackberries, our office-home life boundaries become blurred. How many of us checked work email this weekend? I prepared a press release for distribution in Europe this past Sunday afternoon at 5pm in between preparing dinner and turning on a dvd for the kids.

There are also literally days during the week that I email my husband more than I talk to him.

I guess it would be interesting if we tallied up all our "work from home" hours during the evenings and weekends if we'd match Japanese business behavior?

Posted by: Juliet Shavit at March 26, 2007 05:11 PM


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