Sara Righenzi : “I’ve never had the impression that being female is a disadvantage”

Eve, Le Blog Best Practices, Gender Gap, Personal development, Role models

Sara is a “Directeur de Mission associé” at KPMG. She tells us why she is fond of her job, and how she became a feminist.

What do you like best about your job ?

I work for KPMG, I’m a “Directeur de Mission associé” and I work principally as an auditor. One of the things I like a lot in my job is the variety. I have a number of different clients of varying sizes in several fields. I come into contact with lots of different people, which I love. My actual work varies a lot too. In a typical day I might spend some time on a technical issue, some time in supervision, I might negotiate fees with a client, carry out HR activities such as evaluations, go to a networking event, have a client meeting. Variety is something I really thrive on and it allows me to develop skills in different areas, which is something I’m very attentive to because I’m convinced it’s harder to move up an organization if you only have a limited skills set.

Would you describe yourself as a feminist ?

Five years ago, probably not, now, definitely ! Why did I change ? I’ve been very lucky in my career, I’ve never had the impression that being female is
a disadvantage. I spent the first ten years of my career working hard, climbing up the firm hierarchy, having my kids, being as busy as all working mums. I then started to get more involved in female networking groups. Also KPMG started its diversity project in which I was involved almost from the start. I suddenly began talking to other women about their experiences (which I had naively assumed were like mine) and I realized hown lucky I had been.  I believe passionately in the right for women to work and the need for women to be financially independent from their partners. And I believe too many high-potential women throw in the towel because it’s too hard, they don’t have the support and burden-sharing they need at home
and they are surrounded by guilt inducers (family, friends, colleagues, other mums, society’s expectations). It’s such a waste of talent ! I was part of the 2010 Eve program and I loved it. In my busy life I rarely take the time to sit down and think about me, what I want, what’s important to me, what I want to bring to the society I live in, what I want to contribute to my firm as a woman as opposed to “just” a professional. Eve was a haven, I cut off from everything else and thought about these issues. The conferences were thought provoking, the workshops were practical with lots of take away ideas.  I came back inspired, resourced, relaxed and motivated.

How do you manage the work/life juggle ?

I married a man who strongly believes that women should have careers and who therefore is actively involved in bringing up our children and in the
household chores. And I know that that is rarer than it should be, but it’s essential to making it work ! My job involves some travelling, and I used
to travel even more when my children were younger. I know when I’m not there that everything is being taken care of. Having said that, it’s like delegation at work, you have to accept that things will not be done in exactly the same way that you would have done them. And I’ve given up on
the guilt trip. I’m not a perfect mum, but I do the best I can and so far my three children are healthy, happy and well adjusted. On the work side, I try to be flexible. I get in the office fairly early so I can leave not too late and spend my evening with my family. But if I am at a client’s or I have an evening event, then I will get home late. I try to balance it out in the week so I’m not away all the time.