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Balancing parenthood and professional life as a consultant at CYLAD.



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Interview with Cecilia Combey, Manager

What has your career path at CYLAD looked like?

I joined the firm in January 2011. At that time, there were three partners and twenty consultants in Paris and Toulouse. I had four years of operational experience, but I was a novice in consulting; that’s why I started as a consultant with the opportunity for a rapid progression if I was able to prove myself. That promise held: after six months, I became a senior consultant, and three years later, a manager.


How has having a child had an impact on your professional life?

There’s no need to fool yourself, the arrival of a child inevitably has an impact! But it’s not necessarily negative…
For me, it challenged me to become even more efficient and organized. It also helps to put things into perspective and therefore reduces stress and professional pressure. On the surface, a few months of maternity leave can be seen as a barrier to further career progression. Many may think “How can I progress professionally when I am not working?” In my opinion, it’s a perception rather than a reality. Personally, I never felt I was penalized or my evolution within the firm hindered. I recently had my second child. After taking five months of leave, I am back and always motivated and happy to get up in the morning!


Has your work environment adapted to allow for a better work-life balance?

Tremendously! I can only sincerely thank the CYLAD partners for both the personal and material support. The announcement of my two pregnancies was made without any apprehension because I knew that it would be welcomed. I have always had flexibility to manage constraints and personal events without reproach either explicit or implicit. I find there is a real focus on that subject at CYLAD. To provide a concrete example: before taking maternity leave, I was able to organize childcare with the help of CYLAD who partnered with a local care center. CYLAD also pays special attention to the staffing conditions after parents return to work in order to limit long trips for new parents. I have further experienced the encouragement of CYLAD partners for me to pursue part time employment to further improve the work/life balance. Personally, I do not know many companies where this is actively supported.


How do you manage balancing family life and work life today?

Once again, I’ll be realistic. The consulting profession imposes a rather demanding pace and this work/life balance can be quite fragile. Of course, there are times that I wish I could go home earlier in the evening and spend more time with my children. On the other hand, I am fortunate to have a husband who is very present. This makes the daily logistics much easier, and above all allows me the peace of mind that the children are with their dad and we do not abuse the schedules of childcare and nannies. I also compensate at the weekend. At this point, we’re doing pretty well, and my recent move to working a 90% week will even further improve the work/life balance.