Women in Leadership: “Don't let future plans put things on hold"
With Molly Griffin, Controller for CMT
Work can be tough. Life can be messy. But we all wake up and find a way to make it work every day.
We could all use some help now and again. Solutions to common problems. Inspiration when things get tough. That feeling that you’re not the only one.
This is why we’re starting a new series called Women in Leadership. The series explores how women leaders at CMT approach the challenges of everyday life. Both at the office and at home.
For our first edition, we sat down with CMT’s Controller, Molly Griffin. Molly runs the accounting department. She manages the month-end financial closes, works on accounts payable tasks, payroll, and more.
Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CMT: Tell us about your team.
Molly: I have a team of all females. They’re amazing. Some of them focus on accounts payable. Some on payroll. Some on financial close.
CMT: And you recently became a mom. Can you tell us about your transition back to work?
Molly: I was able to jump right into it. We have the flexibility to work from home. There was no pressure to return back to the office like I was hearing from a lot of my friends who work at other companies.
The nice thing was that my husband works for a company that allowed him to take 12 weeks of paternity leave. So he was at home with the baby. It was a nice transition because I could go and see her during lunch.
CMT: How did your team respond?
Molly: Everybody was super supportive and offered good advice. Whereas previously, I was available whenever someone needed, that wasn’t something I had the ability to do anymore. So my day had to end at 5:30 because I had other things that I needed to do at that time. And people are really great at respecting that boundary.
The other nice thing is that Fran, the head of the finance team, is a dad of four and he understands the importance of family. For him, family comes first. And that’s the same expectation that he holds for us. He doesn’t treat us any differently than he treats himself. He’s the first one to tell you to take whatever time you need with your family.
CMT: When you came back from maternity leave, you really hit the ground running.
Molly: Yeah. It was like: “Hey Molly, here are all the projects we need to get done. Figure out how to get them done.” It wasn’t like: “I need you at your desk from 8:30 to 5:30 every day.”
I had the flexibility to get the projects done when I could get them done. They said: “Here are the deadlines.” And I got them done.
I am my own worst critic, to be honest. I was holding myself to stricter deadlines than I think anyone else was. But it was almost as if I had never left.
CMT: Did you feel like you had something to prove?
Molly: Soon after my return, the Controller announced his retirement and they promoted me. That was an additional layer of stress. I definitely put pressure on myself to make sure that I was still working as hard as I used to and still producing the high-quality work that people expected of me. I think there was a bit of internal pressure that I needed to show that I was still capable of doing this as I was stepping into this new role.
There’s a little bit of fear of failure, but I think we’re in a good place now.
CMT: That’s a huge adjustment. Did you have people to help at home?
Molly: My husband is super supportive of everything. He’s a person who says “We’ll make this work. We will figure it out.”
We love daycare. She (Claire) goes to daycare every day. And is so excited to get there. And I am not a creative person by any means — which is probably why I am an accountant — so they do all the painting and arts and crafts that I will never do at my house.
But, Claire doesn’t like to sleep at daycare. She sometimes sleeps for 10 minutes. So, my whole team knows there are some days where at 4:00 I need to go pick her up and bring her home so I can give her a nap.
Sometimes I am on a call and I have to say: “I have to go get Claire from daycare. She’s not having a good day.” Fortunately, daycare is right behind our house. So that trip takes 10 minutes. So then she is back in her crib and I can get back to work.
CMT: People like to use the word “integration.” How have you been able to integrate work life and family life?
Molly: One of the things that I think about a lot working at CMT is when I first interviewed. It was about three years ago when CMT was a lot smaller. I was interviewing with Bill Powers, our CEO.
I think I asked about work-life balance. His answer was that they weren’t just hiring me. They were hiring my whole family. At the time it was just my husband and me, so I think the word “family” meant something different then.
But, I think back on that a lot now because a lot of times when you interview, people say things and it’s kind of lip service. Now that I have a child, I think that that comment actually rings true. The company is invested in my entire family and makes sure that I have the ability to focus on my family before my job.
CMT: Do you have a piece of advice for people that would help them find this kind of work-life integration?
Molly: My advice is find a company that you know has a good work-life balance. Sometimes you need to kind of dig to find that. Don’t be scared to ask current employees about work-life balance.
Really get to understand the company before taking a job. Especially in today’s job market. You kind of have the upper hand. You can do that sort of research and also negotiate your contract if you need to. Make sure that you have the time you need to take care of your family.
On the flip side of that, don’t let your future plans put things on hold in your professional life. I had the tendency of saying well at some point I want to be a mom, maybe I shouldn’t have applied for this role. Or maybe I’m not ready for that step. I wouldn’t put those things on hold because of what might happen in the future. I think ultimately you figure out how to make things work and if the company that you are working for is a great company, they will help you figure out that balance.