How a people business partner sets boundaries and communicates priorities to achieve work life balance.

Meet Caroline Chamberlain, Head of People Management (EMEA)

As a people business partner, Head of People Management for EMEA, and mother of two, Caroline Chamberlain's strategy for creating work life balance is about communication and agreeing on priorities. Learn how her work life effectiveness approach has evolved since joining AlixPartners.
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Read On

What does Work Life Effectiveness (WLE) mean to you?

Being able to manage the conflicting areas of my life (kids and full-time work) in a way that enables me to give my best to both.

How do you establish, maintain, achieve WLE into your workday? What is one strategy that you find helps you?

Agreeing with my manager and team what my non-negotiables are. For methat is being home for bedtime and finishing in time to pick up my children from school on a Friday.I have a formal Flexible Working Agreement (FWA) in place to facilitate this. This was offered to me on joining the firm and I was super impressed at the firm’s open-mindedness, it is not always easy to secure these arrangements! There are no strict rules associated with FWAs in our firm in terms of what shape they take, so if anyone wants to have more flexibility I would recommend speaking to your MD and People Business Partner to see what can be supported.

alixpartners work life effectiveness chamberlain 2019
My wife Sarah and I on our trek to meet the incredibly friendly Pygmy Tribe in Uganda

What do you find the most challenging about being effective in both your work & family lives?

Managing conflicting priorities and dealing with the guilt of letting one side down sometimes!

Is there an AlixPartners program that you have found helpful in maintaining a good balance?

The general approach to flexibility at this firm is second to none. I have been very impressed by how supportive the firm is in trying to help me achieve the balance that I want.

At what point in your career did you realize that WLE actually improves your performance in the workplace?

When I had my first child and I was offered the opportunity to work compressed hours, which I then did for 8 years.The fact that my employer had enabled me to have one day off with my children really focused me on my objectives and deliverables-I wanted to use the time I was in the office effectively in return for the support I had been given.

Taking credit for my wife’s cooking (I’m simply, and appropriately, the sous-chef in this photo.)
alixpartners work life effectiveness chamberlain 2019

How has your approach to WLE evolved over the years?

As I have become more seniormy team and junior staff look to me as a role model in respect to prioritizing work life balance and effectiveness. To that end, I try really hard to push back on deadlines if I feel they are unnecessarily aggressive (while always delivering when it really matters), and while sometimes
it is tempting to stay at work on a Friday,I try really hard to respect my flexible working agreement and leave so that I set an example.I also try to respect those non-negotiables of people on my team.

How do you ensure your teams are achieving WLE?

Having a structured delivery plan and calendar. I talk to my team about the times where we can see we will be under pressure and ensure that we have adequate cover.I also proactively look at timesheets to see if I can spot a problem that I may not be aware of.

If you had to give one piece of advice related to WLE to your younger self, what would it be?

Have the courage to ask. If you don’t askyou don’t get.

Our Work Life Effectiveness (WLE) interview series features AlixPartners professionals across the world discussing successful strategies for facilitating their own work life effectiveness. Read more of our people's stories below.

Learn More About:
Caroline Chamberlain
Head of People Management - EMEA, London