Working Mother Magazine recently released its annual list of the 100 best companies. Making the list indicates a company offers “family-friendly” benefits. Locally, Diane Wittenberg is a partner for Irvine-based Haskell & White LLP. She has risen through the ranks of her firm while raising three children, ages 11, 8 and 5. Wittenberg discusses the importance of working for a family-friendly company.
OCM: What was the biggest challenge you faced during your ascent to partner, when it came to raising your family?
WITTENBERG: Definitely the biggest challenge was the juggling. Each day, as a professional and as a mother, I had many responsibilities, and each day I had to evaluate the priorities for all of those responsibilities under both of those roles.
OCM: How do you prioritize? I mean, the school play and the work deadline? How do you choose?
WITTENBERG: Well, the first step is to plan far ahead and be as organized as possible. This way, you can take care of your client deadline ahead of schedule and still make the school play! There are, of course, times where unforeseen issues arise. That’s where the real juggling comes in. Thankfully, we’re living in an era with cell phones and email.
OCM: How has your company helped you to manage both work and life? What program do you value most?
WITTENBERG: Haskell & White has a flexible work schedule program that allows you to work a reduced client load and have more time with your family. I work a 70% schedule, so I am able to schedule activities with my kids and volunteer to help in their classrooms on certain days of the week. This program has been invaluable in allowing me to achieve both my professional as well as my personal goals.
OCM: How do you interview for a job and at the same time ask about family-friendly benefits?
WITTENBERG: First, put forward your qualifications and how you can help the company. Once you’ve sold yourself, you’re in a better position to open a discussion about benefits and personal needs. OCM