AP Diversity and Inclusion Campaign | March 2019
All too often, we approach the question of career or family as black and white. Either you work full-time or you become a stay-at-home mom. There’s no middle ground. However, AP Gen’s very own Chief Financial Officer, Racquel Bustamante, is choosing to have it all – a blissful family and a thriving career. Instead of seeing her situation as a setback, she dove straight into proving that balancing career and motherhood is perfectly possible.
Sort out your priority, and commit to it
Early on, Racquel realized that in order to succeed at striking a balance between career and family, it is important to have one’s priorities in order – both personal and professional. Having a strong commitment on this helped her make adjustments and decide what she was and was not prepared to do.
Racquel started her career at one of the leading auditing firms in the country. She was promoted to supervisor in record time and before long, she was handling the firm’s anchor accounts. More often than not, she would stay in the office until 2 am – the price she paid for handling the big accounts. It did not take long for her to realize that if she wanted to get married and have kids of her own, that job would be a hindrance. The year she decided to get married, she made a conscious decision to leave her promising position. “So the reason I moved is because I’m a girl, I’m a woman. I wanted to be a mom. So I said, I need to get out of audit and work in a company where I can spend quality time with my family eventually,” she says.
Do not be afraid to reveal your vulnerability
Racquel’s awareness regarding gender diversity came early in her career. She recalls a job interview where she was asked, “When do you plan to get married, and when do you plan to have kids?” For her employer, it was viewed as a hindrance. She was uncertain to tell him the truth that the reason she moved was because she wanted to have a family of her own. Some people would feel slighted, but Racquel boldly answered, “I have plans of getting married within the year.” She believes that women should be empowered to say that.
Compromise is Key
After spending many years as a career woman, Racquel has quickly realized that maintaining work and family balance requires constant adjustment, compromises, and sacrifices. It was every bit of a struggle, but the payoff was more than worth it.
She recounts the time when her kids were growing up, she would leave the office at 6 pm just to spend quality time with them. By 10 pm, she would open all her documents, work through the night, and by the next morning, she would have everything ready. That’s how she managed over the years. “It was hard,” she admits. As a matter of fact, Racquel gave birth prematurely to her second child because she was working late at night. “I gave birth (at) 29 weeks. I was reviewing a bid, and I just realized, oh my goodness, nag-labor ako,” she quips.
By now, Racquel has learned to allocate her time effectively between work and her children. In fact, she is a Parent Coordinator for her three kids, and Head Parent Coordinator for her youngest kid. She suggests, “You really have to find ways to satisfy the demands from both your work and family.”
Anything, not everything
Racquel acknowledges that in striking a balance between career and family life, delegation is key. You can do anything, but not everything. Ultimately, one would have to weigh and choose which work meetings to attend and what school activity to skip. She says, “Sometimes there are activities or meetings in school that I really don’t need to attend to. But,yeah. I know what matters to my children. So, pag alam ko na yun, no brainer na yun.” Fortunately, Racquel has a supporting network of co-workers and family who have been generous to help, understand and respect her priorities.
She recalls a time when she had to decide between a meeting and her daughter’s recital. At that time, she was just a few days into her new job. “So I told my boss I can’t make it, ‘coz it’s my daughter’s ballet recital. Na-move yung board eh, the Board meeting was moved, so it had a conflict with the ballet show. So I said, ‘Don’t force me to make a decision ‘cause you know what I’m gonna choose’.” At that moment, she revealed her vulnerability and her boss respected that.
Being a career woman and a mother at the same time is challenging and extremely complicated. However, as Racquel’s story proves, there is always a solution. You just have to find the right balance and resolve to do your best to commit to it.