Mohamed El-Erian shocked the financial world when he suddenly stepped down as CEO of PIMCO, a job worth $100 million a year. Nine months late he finally reveals the reason – his daughter.
In his blog Mohammed tells the story of how his relationship with his 10-year-old daughter was growing less close, and she wasn’t doing things he asked her to.
“About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something -- brush her teeth, I think it was -- with no success.” Mohammed explained.
“I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded, and I wouldn’t have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious.”
“She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments.”
The list contained 22 events from her life that her dad hadn’t been there for, from her first day of school, to sport days to parent-teacher meetings.
“Talk about a wake-up call,” the stunned dad said. “I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos...”
“But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it -- as I had rationalized it -- my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”
Mohamed decided to step down from his demanding role as CEO, and spend more time experiencing the little important events with his family. He still works, but with projects offering far more flexibility, so that his family stays his top priority.
“So far it’s been the right decision for me,” he concludes.
“I now alternate with my wife in waking up our daughter every morning, preparing her breakfast and driving her to school ... She and I are doing a lot of wonderful talking and sharing. We’ve even planned a holiday together, just the two of us.”
The 56-year-old dad points out how lucky is to be able to work fewer hours, unlike so many people who struggle to get by or work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
“I’m the first to recognise that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to structure my life in this way,” he writes.
“Unfortunately not everyone has this luxury. But, hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what’s important to them.”