Erin Callan, formerly chief financial officer at Lehman Brothers, is counseling women "don't do it like me." She told NBC News that small choices gradually became life choices that edged out having children and more time with her husband.
Add her voice to other high-profile executive (or former executive) women who are discussing women and work and family in the national media. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made new headlines recently with the announcement that she was ending work-at-home arrangements with employees. They all need to work from the office, she said.
Meanwhile, Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg was recently widely quoted as saying that women need to be "all-in" to compete for powerful career positions. She's written a book on the topic called "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead."
Joann Bamberger recently called it the "new Mommy wars" for a piece in USA Today, noting those two are among the most high-profile moms in the corporate world.
Callan was a very high-profile woman in the corporate world, the chief financial officer of Lehman for several months until its bankruptcy in 2008, when she resigned and stepped out of the public eye. She has a different take and wrote about her decisions and their impact for The New York Times' Op-Ed page Sunday, before sitting down with NBC's Ann Curry.
“I did achieve great success in my career — I’m just trying to provide a bit of what I’ll call a warning label that, hey, there’s something else to think about as you’re ‘leaning in,’ so to speak,” Callan told Curry.
"I don’t have children, so it might seem that my story lacks relevance to the work-life balance debate," she wrote for the Times. "Like everyone, though, I did have relationships — a spouse, friends and family — and none of them got the best version of me. They got what was left over.
"I didn’t start out with the goal of devoting all of myself to my job. It crept in over time. Each year that went by, slight modifications became the new normal. First I spent a half-hour on Sunday organizing my e-mail, to-do list and calendar to make Monday morning easier. Then I was working a few hours on Sunday, then all day. My boundaries slipped away until work was all that was left."
She described working from the moment she awoke until time to go to bed, catching up on sleep on weekends, missing family events and more. "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."
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