In the business world of today, as the educational attainment and labor-force participation of women have increased, the proportion of dual-earner families has also been on the rise. More parents, needless to say, are working full-time jobs while also trying to juggle their obligations at home. It’s never easy being a parent trying to manage a career with a family life.
For Sean St. John, his demanding schedule is always on the forefront of each day as an executive at National Bank in Toronto. But, as a single father to his son, he also recognizes the importance of spending quality time with family.
We recently sat down with Sean to get his valuable advice on how to balance work with family.
Q: First, tell us about your role at National Bank and what makes it so demanding.
Sean St. John: Well, I’ve been in the banking and finance industry for over 25 years. I currently serve as the Executive Vice President, Managing Director, Co-Head of Fixed Income, Currencies & Commodities at National Bank in Toronto. As a member of the bank’s executive management team, I am responsible for a wide range of areas: including sales and trading, risk management solutions, debt capital markets and infrastructure finance. In a management role, you are technically always on the clock as the point-of-contact person for your team.
Q: Why do you think it is so important to balance a career with your family life?
Sean St. John: Finding a way to balance a career in any industry with a family life can be difficult. While you want to spend time with your family and have a fulfilling life outside of the office, you might also have to make personal sacrifices to fulfill your professional duties. With proper planning, however, it is possible to balance both aspects of your life.
Q: With more parents in the workforce, what, in your opinion, makes juggling both responsibilities doable?
Sean St. John: I think you have to look at your own situation and formulate a plan that works for you. You need to start by determining the priorities for your family, then create a strong support network to assist you. Knowing that you can call on a family member or friend to help out at home when you need them can alleviate the stress of working and having a family. Finding reliable care options for your children during work hours is also key.
Q: There has been a flux in advocacy surrounding parental leave and a better work-life balance in recent years. Do you think more companies should support employees with children by offering more flexibility?
Sean St. John: Yes. With or without children, I believe that a balanced employee tends to feel more motivated and less stressed when they feel a greater sense of control and ownership over their own lives. I also believe companies that gain a reputation for encouraging work-life balance have become very attractive to workers and have the potential to draw a valuable pool of candidates for new job openings. A happy employee equals, in my opinion, more loyalty to the company and higher employee retention rates.
Q: How do you personally make time for your responsibilities as a father?
Sean St. John: I like to plan events that we will do together as a family. Put the event on your schedule and calendar just as if you were making an appointment. That way, everyone has something to look forward to. It’s about spending time together and creating memories. Technology is an added bonus that allows you to be “there” and be in touch with the office.