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Best industry/career for work-life balance

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Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2010, 10:07
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I'm doing some research on which MBA careers offer the best work-life balance while still offering reasonable career advancement opportunities. I'm thinking we can rule out consulting and IB, because they have crazy hours for the most part. I guess that pretty much leaves industry jobs and high-end finance gigs. Any thoughts on this?

Personally, I'm looking at the oil & gas industry, but it'd be cool if I could get a job in cleantech/sustainability. As far as job function goes, maybe GM, marketing, BD, etc., that would see me climb the corporate ladder. I'm hoping for 50-hour weeks, but I guess that'd be a luxury in a competitive workplace. Anyway, thoughts on this would be appreciated.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2010, 10:45
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I don't think you can classify such things by industry - it is very much an individual culture of a firm that decides this. The high end finance being a balanced life-style I am not sure about; you may not spend huge volumes of time at your desk, but you certainly aren't spending it at home with your family.

One of the best things about the firm I work for is the balance. My dog needs to get neutered next month and I expect I will be able to work from home for about five days around then to be with her. It is a give-take thing though, as I have spent two weeks continuous on different continents when the initial plan was for a four day trip.

I can't really see there being a great deal of climbing a corporate ladder on a 50-hour week. Many places that operate that way are very staid and the speed of progress becomes a frustration, though for you that may not be the case. There is certainly a trade-off on the dynamic style of the firm, the longer hours and the promotion opportunities. Given that, I think the hours in cleantec and similar would be pretty onerous as the business is so hot and competitive right now.

This is speaking outside of the banks where the attitude is somewhat out of kilter. With my big consulting friends life cannot be so bad, as they are frequently checking in at bars on foursquare at Thursday / Friday 1am.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 25 Jul 2010, 06:14
O&G tends to have very reasonable hours but the travel can suck depending on the group you are in. I know people who spent months in some of the worst locations on earth. Even if you are working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week...you wont always enjoy your freetime because you may be in a hellish part of the world.

Work/Life balance I think is a touchy subject. Personally I would rather spend 50-60 hours a week doign something I love, than 40 hours a week doing something I hate. Companies doing the exact same type of work can result in a different experience based on who you work for and what the current demands are. I am sure at times over the last few years consulting had great work life balance, since there was no work and if you held on to your job you may have had a pretty light schedule.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 03:40
I have to admit that posts about US working hours, work/life balance, career, vacation, etc., seem to me like crazy people talk. :roll: You guys speak so naturally about "... 50-hour week on O&G" or " 100-hour on banking" ! That's insane ! The official working hours in Europe range from 35 to 39 hours per week, and 25 days of vacation per year is the norm. Of course, places such as consulting and banking work much more, but still not as much as in the US. Maybe I am an exception since I don't mind to work 60 hours per week, however my weekend and my 30-day vacation are sacred !

Anyway, I will keep reading this very interesting topic ! :-D
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 05:54
I used to always roll five days holiday and sell five days when I worked in Europe because it was impossible to take the vacation time offered.

The whole 39 hour work week is lip service from my experience. There was an economist article that (my summary) stated that the work week and early retirement age in Europe, where taken seriously, is a bad joke at the expense of the next generation.

I don't mind working weekends on my job now. My wife doesn't particularly appreciate it, but that is just something I manage.

I think you will find that the banker lifestyle is very much similar where the business type is similar, irrespective of where you are.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 06:10
OK, so this kind of begs the question - which country is best for someone who appreciates a healthy work life balance and still offers good career opportunities? I know it probably has more to do with the industry than location, but just in general.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 10:16
This is kind of heading down the avenue of "where can I enjoy great success at minimal effort".
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 10:26
3underscore wrote:
This is kind of heading down the avenue of "where can I enjoy great success at minimal effort".


Oh no no, it's all about achieving the best ROI!
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 10:56
milias wrote:
3underscore wrote:
This is kind of heading down the avenue of "where can I enjoy great success at minimal effort".


Oh no no, it's all about achieving the best ROI!

What's the R in your ROI? If your R is US Dollars, work/life balance is not a factor.

I'd have to agree with 3underscore's assessment of what this topic is really about. If work/life balance is purely about hours worked per week, irrespective of salary, work content, location, etc... You should probably be a blogger :)

It's impossible to rate work/life balance within a single company, let alone an entire industry, because we all have different preferences.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 19:18
Generally speaking, work-life balance is harder to achieve for jobs that have to do with the core functions of a company.

In plain English, there's basically three kinds of jobs within any company in any industry:

Those who sell it, those who make it, and those who support the former two.

If you're in a job that "sells it" or "makes it" -- then the hours are less structured, more demanding, and there's greater expectations that your career be a greater priority than your family/personal life (i.e. more expectations to miss vacations, holidays, major personal events, etc. for work-related things that may be deemed more important for the company).

If you're in a revenue generating role and/or a role where you're building the company's core product or service, there's really not going to be much of a work-life balance. Even if let's say you want to be a partner at a fund -- you may have decent hours when there's not much going on, but if there's a big deal or investment you're making, the other fund partners are expecting that you make that a priority, even if such a deal/investment happens to take up a lot of your time that could coincide with personal/family stuff - of course it's not draconian (i.e. "you must miss your father's funeral!") as there's a bit of give and take in any front office position, but more often than not it's expected that you are to schedule your life around work UNLESS it's something major (i.e. death in the family, getting married, etc.).

That's why it's tough - not impossible, but always a tough trade off people make after a while. And why not everyone wants to move up the ladder after a while (or are willing to take a support/back office job if they really value their personal/family life even more).
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 19:54
^yeah I agree Alex. Most companies even the oil industry here in my country who used to be so family oriented has become stressful that it now demands more than 40hrs/week. If you get lucky you could use your vacation of 25days, but its very rare nowadays.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Jul 2010, 20:56
Just be annadmissons consultant and be done with it. Lol
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 29 Jul 2010, 07:43
From my understanding, product/brand management is a role that strikes a good balance. You might spend a 50 hour week, but you go home every night and you have the weekends to yourself. Of course, the pay isn't comparable to IB/Consulting/Finance, but it's good enough to pay the bills and you actually have a life outside of work.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 29 Jul 2010, 12:40
Another area to consider is government consulting... the hours and travel tend to be different from typical management consulting. The downsides are lower pay and less top notch clients, but the pay is still quite good and you have the variability of assignments and the chance to build business that I believe to be the highlights of consulting. Search online for govt consulting outfits.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 28 Sep 2010, 16:11
You guys are troopers with casually balancing life while working 50+ hours per week. I hope to have the same mindset as everyone.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 24 Mar 2011, 18:26
I agree. It's an interesting thread. I work for an American MNC in India and as far as work-life balance is concerned, i cant stop showing my teeth through that smile :-D. I can clock in anytime i want (ofcourse my boss knows about it :)) and do as many hours i want (ofcoure more than daily minimum :)). All he cares is the work quality. However, the moment i see outside my American MNC walls and peep into Indian companies walls (with few exceptions), i see that work-life balance is very much an alien concept.

I somehow 'feel' that the companies use this as an excuse for not giving frequent promotions.

Money-Life balance is also important. Quality Projects - Life balance is also important. Success-Life balance is also important. I bet no one talks about these at my office :( (I'm not sure they do it elsewhere - If they do, plz let me know. I'd like to go there after my Mba)
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 24 Mar 2011, 19:41
wiredo wrote:
From my understanding, product/brand management is a role that strikes a good balance. You might spend a 50 hour week, but you go home every night and you have the weekends to yourself. Of course, the pay isn't comparable to IB/Consulting/Finance, but it's good enough to pay the bills and you actually have a life outside of work.


It really depends on the company. At my company, our brand managers probably average 50-60 hours a week and are working most nights and weekends for at least a little bit. I work similar hours as well right now and know many of my peers who can manage a 40 hour week with a good family life but it's really difficult to advance if you only put in the bare minimum. While consulting and banking isn't the lifestyle for me, I don't mind working hard if I truly enjoy and am challenged by my work.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 25 Mar 2011, 05:38
eskimoroll - I think you hit the nail on the head. If I'm challenged, I enjoy what I'm doing, and I see a purpose in the work, then working hard isn't as big of a deal.

That said, there is definitely a balance - at some point you have to be able to say no. You have to be able to have time for yourself to recharge. You have to be able to take a week of vacation without expecting to work throughout the vacation. I think companies are starting to realize this more. At least, I hope so.

I also agree with some other folks who posted on this thread that it does change from company to company more than it does from industry to industry, although some generalizations can probably be made across certain industries. It also depends on your boss and how open minded and forward thinking he/she is.
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2011, 14:54
Av wrote:
milias wrote:
3underscore wrote:
This is kind of heading down the avenue of "where can I enjoy great success at minimal effort".


Oh no no, it's all about achieving the best ROI!

What's the R in your ROI? If your R is US Dollars, work/life balance is not a factor.

I'd have to agree with 3underscore's assessment of what this topic is really about. If work/life balance is purely about hours worked per week, irrespective of salary, work content, location, etc... You should probably be a blogger :)

It's impossible to rate work/life balance within a single company, let alone an entire industry, because we all have different preferences.


As it's work the primary R is going to be income (interesting work and perks would be less significant but still count); its the I that matters just as much. I find it really amazing that so many people who get an advanced degree in Business so rarely identify the reward for their job in terms of income per hour. It has almost been enough to turn me off doing my MBA and considering a new career path; to each their own, but money and time each have diminishing returns, and when you're making over $100k, but working well over 50 hours a week, I think money has a lot lower marginal return than time should. Again this is all personal perspective, but I am surprised that seemingly so few MBA hopefuls and grads agree.

In terms of industries, I have some experience that verifies that government is really quite balanced, I have heard from some that nonprofit might also be similar. Is MC almost always so intense? There are pretty much no firms working on less demanding schedules for their consultants? I don't think it would be an economic necessity that things be this way...it has to be because consultant hopefuls are willing to give up big hours in exchange for big money.

I would personally argue that a good way to judge work-life balance are yearly hours (some will offer long hours and long vacations, which I think many people would be happy with), and to a lesser extent flexibility - personally I'd break it down as 75-25.

Any other thoughts on options - surprised this isn't as common as threads about salary! What percentage of MBAs really end up working less than 45 hours a week?
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Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance [#permalink] New post 27 Mar 2011, 06:04
TwoThrones wrote:
You guys are troopers with casually balancing life while working 50+ hours per week. I hope to have the same mindset as everyone.


and I thought that I already working really hard for 40 hours per week :?
Re: Best industry/career for work-life balance   [#permalink] 27 Mar 2011, 06:04
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