When your children were growing up, what was your childcare situation-and how has your spouse been involved?
My children are now in their twenties (25 and 23), but when I first became President and then CEO, they were much younger. We always had a live-in childcare provider, who turned into more of a driver when the children were in middle school and high school. My husband was directly involved with my children, as well, attending most of their sporting events and being home at times when I was travelling.
In what ways do you allow your work life and home life to overlap? Has that ever had adverse affects on your career?
Sonesta is a very family-friendly company, so we try to accommodate people who have children. Personally, I try to focus on each separately, even if it means leaving work in time to be home for dinner and then continuing work at home on the computer afterwards. I would also have my family accompany me on business trips, and turn those into a family vacation for them while I am working. I do not feel this has adversely affected my career.
Can women have it all?
I believe that women can have it all, just not all at the same time. We all have three aspects of our lives: work, family, and personal. When my children were younger, I had no time to myself. This lasts for a relatively short period of time, and now I have more opportunity to follow my personal passions along with time for work and family.
What else would you like to say to fellow working moms?
It is much easier to be a working mom when you work in a family-friendly and supportive environment. The culture of the company is so important and the best way to judge this is by seeing how many women there are on the board of directors and in senior management positions. I also encourage young women to try to accelerate their careers before they have family. When you are in a managerial position with more autonomy, it is much easier to juggle your career with family. Companies are often willing to be flexible because you are more valuable to them.
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Stephanie Sonnabend has been with Sonesta Collection of hotels, resorts and cruises for over thirty years and currently serves as president and CEO. The magna cum laude Harvard University graduate and mother of two lives in Massachusetts.