“Work-life balance is possible, even in our industry, but it will keep changing with priorities. That’s why I prefer to call it work-life priorities.” This was the topic of recent Partner Talks held by Bodo Schaefer, CEO of Capco Austria, Germany, Slovakia (AGS), whose key message was “don’t try to have it all at once - prioritize”. 

Work-life balance remains a challenge for many industries, consulting being one of them. With entire countries in lockdowns and people often working in isolation, this challenge has increased. At Capco, we take the health and mental health of our employees very seriously. Partner Talks – (virtual) conversations with senior leaders at Capco – offer an opportunity to hear a Partner’s perspective and share opinions on topics that matter to us at work and in life. 

In recent Partner Talks, Bodo Schaefer, CEO of Capco AGS shared his personal views on managing work-life priorities in consulting. 

Anyone joining a consulting firm should know that consulting is not a 9 to 5 job. It takes hours and effort to progress in this industry. The upsides are a fast-paced and varied career, steep learning curve, interesting projects, client organizations and people, travel, typically higher salaries and being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurial and ambitious individuals. It is a very competitive environment and it’s easy to get carried away prioritizing client meetings, project deadlines and moving up the career ladder.  

However, fast career progression comes at a cost. Lack of spare time leaves little room for life outside of work and of course working in a highly intense environment can push us all, which can lead to stress and health problems. 

The solution is to actively prioritize. There are times in life when you need to focus on your career and at other times it is more important to concentrate on private priorities. So, decide what is more meaningful for you at a given point in time and focus on that. Own and revisit your priorities regularly. 

Of course, focusing on family or other priorities outside of work at certain times does not mean that you have to leave your job! It just means that life is a lot easier when you acknowledge your priorities and communicate them. Capco’s AGS leadership team is open to such conversations and wants to support everyone on their journey as best they can.

Our careers are not for a year or two, they are life-long journeys. Always respect the life stage you are at. At the beginning of your career, promotions and bigger projects will most likely be the prizes worth making sacrifices for. When you’re more established professionally, that latest promotion you’ve worked so hard to get may not make as much difference to you as personal milestones like starting a family, building or buying a house, supporting an elderly parent or relative, pursuing a creative or sporting ambition. The special moments when your children are growing up won’t reappear and you won’t get another chance to do something ‘when you were younger’.

Equally, when you’re more settled in your personal life, you may re-discover that hunger for professional success and be willing to go the extra mile. It’s not an age thing, it’s a life stage thing. And it will be very different for each of us, just like we build our careers on different and unique skills, be it sales, content expertise, leadership or personal motivation.

It is essential to be open about your priorities and to communicate. If something is a priority to you, it is important to us at Capco. We may not be able to make everyone’s plans happen, but we will do our best to accommodate. Problems arise when people try to hide their priorities – from themselves or from others. We encourage everyone to be honest and transparent about what matters to them, as this can open great opportunities. 

It is also important to remember that there is no ‘up or out’ at Capco, nor do we expect you to be available ‘all the time’. Competitive progression is not a requirement and our jobs do allow some flexibility which we can use. As a CEO, one needs to be always available, but don’t confuse checking-in and making sure you don’t miss anything with working 24/7. 

Modern careers need to be based on individual priorities and personal choices, which will lead to different career paths, even within the same company. We encourage you to assess your work-life priorities regularly and make decisions about goals and pace that are right for you. And talk to us about it – we will do our best to support you.