Joanna Coles has held the glamorous titles of editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire magazines. Today, she’s the first person to serve as the chief content officer of Hearst Magazines.
But Coles launched her journalism career in a place far from the world of glossy monthlies, as a reporter for The Guardian and The Times of London.
On an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” Coles told Business Insider US editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell that she leapt from newspaper to magazine journalism because she thought the lifestyle of a magazine editor was more conducive to being a mum.
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Coles said, “I always urge women to aim for the highest job they can get because you get more money and you get more support and you get more control, and those are the three things that actually make life easier.”
Coles described what the transition from The Times of London to magazines was like:
“It was quite jarring to go from newspapers to magazines, and the reason I did it was because I had my second son, and with my second child I just thought I can’t travel at will, which you really need to be able to do. And so I had a sort of slow realisation that I could no longer do the job that I loved. It wasn’t the job’s fault — it wasn’t the newspaper’s fault. I was just at a life stage that didn’t make sense. …
“So I moved into magazines because I thought I would have more control over my schedule. I wanted a desk job, I didn’t want to be travelling all the time, and I’m not someone who found it easy to travel with young children, and I wanted to see them. And it was very difficult. The transition of a desk job, having to be in the office at the same time every day, I found super hard. But I did it for three years, and that led to me taking over at Marie Claire, which was a really exciting experience.”
Coles hammered home the point about flexibility being key for her — and for all working parents:
“[When I took over at Marie Claire] I had the opportunity to make my own schedule a bit more, which was, again, something I always try and tell women who are anxious about taking on more responsibility when they have children that, if you can create your own schedule, if you are in control of your schedule, that’s one of the most important things that helps with children.”
Other executives agree with Coles about the importance of a malleable schedule. Weekly CFO Kim Jabal previously told Business Insider that flexibility is integral to work-life balance. “Rigid work hours and work location make it much more challenging,” she said.
Jabal’s personal schedule is “home an hour in the morning, get kids to school, work in the office 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., have dinner with kids, work three hours at night.”
If you’re thinking about finding a job that makes it easier to juggle work and family responsibilities, check out this list of the best jobs for parents. Magazine editor isn’t on there — but you’ll find 10 other relatively high-paying, low-stress jobs that offer flexibility.
“It’s important to be realistic about what you can and can’t do at any one time,” Coles said. “Doesn’t mean you can’t go back to it at a later stage, and at some point I would love to set off across the country again with a notebook and a pen and that’s all. But I’m not quite there yet, and also I’m rather seduced by the glorious office I have at Hearst Tower.”
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