November 30, 2023 by Shannon McIntosh, Manager

Balancing career and family on the road to success

Welcome to this month’s edition of The Bright Side. I recently sat down with Megan Brett, one of the inspirational partners at Baker Tilly Catalyst. We talked about her journey to partner, lessons she learned along the way and what it’s like balancing family and a career. The insight she shares can be applied to any business, profession or aspect of life.

A small world

Megan joined Baker Tilly Catalyst’s predecessor firm in 2009. It was actually my mom who trained her when she took on her first audit ⁠–⁠ then Megan trained me years later. It really is a small world!

In 2012, Megan was promoted to manager and then senior manager in 2014. While moving up quickly, she also took time to indulge her love of travel ⁠–⁠ visiting places like Southeast Asia and Ecuador ⁠–⁠ enjoying the journey along the way.

She made partner in January 2019 and soon had her first child, Blaire. In October of that same year, she became my mentor and moved to part‑time hours a few months later to spend more time with family. In December 2021, Megan had her second child, Leah, and later returned to full‑time partner in January 2024.

Balancing career and parenthood

Like anything in life, being a partner and a parent has its benefits and challenges. Juggling a career and parenting can be difficult, requiring a delicate balance between managing work responsibilities and caring for your children. Finding time and energy to do both is no easy task, but with proper planning and support it is possible to achieve success in both areas.

The ability to multitask and prioritize is critical. It is important to acknowledge that while deadlines can be helpful, they can also lead to chaos. Balancing competing priorities can be difficult, and there are times when you may not be able to be the best parent, partner and spouse all at once. It’s important to remember there will be peaks and valleys and to be kind to yourself during those times.

The path to success

Megan believes clear communication is integral to success with colleagues, partners, mentors, spouses and kids, along with working together to set reasonable expectations. This involves two key factors.

First, it is important to establish boundaries. Identify what you can and cannot compromise on and set these up early in the process. Sticking to your non‑negotiables will help you maintain a balance without losing sight of what matters most to you. Second, it is crucial to be prepared for the unexpected. Life is unpredictable and certain things are simply beyond our control.

Be adaptable and flexible when unexpected situations arise, such as a child falling ill or an elderly parent requiring assistance. Communicating your needs and sharing these struggles with others can make us feel more supported and less alone. It’s okay to be vulnerable and let your guard down. Asking for help is perfectly fine because partnerships involve multiple partners who can provide support. Collaboration is key. Instead of trying to be a jack‑of‑all‑trades, find a mentor to help guide you and focus on mastering one specific area.

Juggling responsibilities efficiently

As individuals, we tend to be overly critical of ourselves and may struggle with saying no. It’s crucial to adhere to our boundaries and stick to our non‑negotiables, whether it’s spending quality time with family or engaging in a morning workout. We can compare trying to juggle multiple professional and personal responsibilities to juggling balls, some of which are made of glass and some of which are made of plastic. The key is to keep the glass ones from falling.

Do what is most important to you and be okay with some things falling through the cracks once in a while. Embrace imperfection, communicate expectations and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember, the path to success is rarely a straight uninterrupted line.

Manager, Client Advisory at Baker Tilly Catalyst, Shannon McIntosh has overcome anxiety, insecurity and depression to emerge as a voice of empowerment, helping clients and colleagues exceed expectations and break new ground. In The Bright Side, she taps into her specialized experience working with non‑profit businesses and her passion for helping organizations that support the community to offer enlightening tax, financial and business guidance to help replace self‑doubt with self‑belief.

Meet the Author

Shannon McIntosh Shannon McIntosh
Calgary, Alberta
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