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Book Review: Having It All

This is a must read for all those women who aspire to build their career, women who have just got placed in their first job, even young working mothers or their managers and more importantly, the HR managers who are drafting workplace policies

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As a person journeys up in his or her career graph, the number of higher positions decrease and the few who are truly endowed with skill and talent reach the top level. Every person works hard to reach there, but few people, most often women, have to give up all after reaching the top as the going gets tough when it comes to managing work and personal responsibilities. But there are few, who achieve great heights without compromising on either work life or personal life. Does an individual, have to opt for either career or personal life and not excel in both?

As expressed by Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, in an interview, it is not possible to ‘have it all’ per se but yes, a person can succeed by having a proper coping mechanism, a proper support system at home and at work place.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Unfinished Business is exactly about Nooyi’s statement on excelling with the right support system. It would be a fairy tale, if a woman reaches the top of her career, gets married to the right person at the right time, have kids whom she has the perfect support system to take care of physically and emotionally. In real life, one has to work really hard to achieve the above. The success stories we hear about women in leadership roles have had their share of challenges and how they dealt with them was what made them successful.

The author, who left a high profile job as the first female director of policy planning at the US State Department to return to academia, talks about the various myths associated with having a successful career ‘no matter what’ at one end of the spectrum and ‘kids need their mothers’ at the other end. She then illustrates the list of things to be taken care of right at the career planning stage and some changes to be made by both the employee and the employer so that the employee’s career is not forcibly cut short due to work-life conflict.

Unfinished Business is written in simple language and the message of the book is put across using anecdotes people can relate to about the kind of trade-offs people have to make to balance job and family. This is a guide to every woman to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Also, this is a must read for all those women who aspire to build their career, women who have just got placed in their first job, even young working mothers or their managers and more importantly, the HR managers who are drafting workplace policies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Aparna Tadimety

The author is a freelance contributor

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