Elaine Agather photgraphy by Elizabeth Lavin

Elaine Agather’s Words of Wisdom

She's chair and CEO of JPMorgan Chase Dallas Region and mom of Bradley (26) and Lorene (23).

I knew I would always work. I had been working for nearly eight years by the time I got married at 30. I always loved my job, but I also needed a job. I think the necessity component of work often gets overlooked. So first it was a job, but then the “career” happened, and then it became “me.”

Even though my parents had never been to New York, or college for that matter, they supported my career so much. My mother thought it was fabulous—all the things I was going to introduce my girls to that she wasn’t able to introduce us to, places I could take them, the things I would teach them. My parents fueled me in loving my career and not feeling guilty about it.

My girls grew up in a no-judgment environment in which my husband and I operated in a less-traditional way. We always shared the load, and so to them that was the norm. It’s so important to establish your “normal.” We loved our normal.We were happy doing what we were doing. I think the kids felt that.

When I was pregnant with Bradley there was no email, no voice mail. When you went on maternity leave, you were gone.  The bosses I had didn’t know quite what to do with me. I wanted to prove I could do it, so I was maybe afraid to leave at 3 to pick up my kids from carpool.

Today, I have many women who work flextime for me. My CFO doesn’t come in on Fridays. I have people coming in at 7 and leaving at 3. I want them to survive that period with young kids. Women need to look for companies and bosses that get it. That said, there isn’t a perfect balance. Some days I have been a great mom, and some days I was a fabulous banker. It’s rare that you do it all on the same day. You have to allow yourself to look at how you did over the course of the week. You have to take it a day at a time. It’s a marathon. You have to pace yourself.