Erin Callan: I Sold Myself Short In My Wall Street Career, And Ignoring My Family Life Was A Mistake

Erin Callan

Former Lehman Brothers CFO Erin Callan, who was one of the most powerful women on Wall Street before the bank’s demise, has written a really gutsy op-ed in The New York Times. Her op-ed, “Is There Life After Work?,” has to do with the work/life balance debate that’s been going on for a while now. 

Her piece in the Times gets very personal.

In it, the former “well-heeled” Wall Street exec sounds extremely remorseful about working all those crazy hours and putting her career ahead of her family, friends, and first husband.

Callan, who now has step children and a new husband, also writes about wishing she had children of her own. She says at age 47 she and her husband are still trying in vitro fertilization. 

Post-Lehman she seems to have come to the realisation that she didn’t have to work the extreme way she did to become CFO. 

Callan writes: 

I have often wondered whether I would have been asked to be C.F.O. if I had not worked the way that I did. Until recently, I thought my singular focus on my career was the most powerful ingredient in my success. But I am beginning to realise that I sold myself short. I was talented, intelligent and energetic. It didn’t have to be so extreme. Besides, there were diminishing returns to that kind of labour.

I didn’t have to be on my BlackBerry from my first moment in the morning to my last moment at night. I didn’t have to eat the majority of my meals at my desk. I didn’t have to fly overnight to a meeting in Europe on my birthday. I now believe that I could have made it to a similar place with at least some better version of a personal life. Not without sacrifice — I don’t think I could have “had it all” — but with somewhat more harmony.

These days, she writes, that she’s “only learning how to manage a life.”

Read the full op-ed at the NYTimes >

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