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Family First Member Spotlight: Meet Chantelle Knowles

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION  | 

The Family First employee network group (ENG) builds community around shared experiences and serves as a support system for the well-being and growth of our members and others so they can be their best at home, work and in their community. Through our Family First member spotlights, we share stories about life experiences of people at RSM. In this edition, we meet Chantelle Knowles, who shares how important flexibility and asking for help are to being successful at work and in life.

Chantelle Knowles
Audit manager
14 years with RSM
Member of Family First and
STAR ENGs

Tell us about a challenge you are currently facing or have faced.
My husband and I both work full-time and his job is located two counties away from where we live with not much flexibility. Taking care of the household, our 9-year-old son, our dog and juggling between my clients, staff, advisees and family time is a difficult challenge. Both of our families reside outside of the U.S. and finding the support system to assist with our son is not always easy. Our son has a significant speech disorder, which has made some aspects of learning more difficult for him. With the onset of COVID-19 during my busiest time at work, my husband having to continue to go to work and the switch to virtual learning, the responsibility for our son’s education and speech therapy fell on me, which added more stress to the equation.

What roles do family, faith and RSM play in the face of such challenge?
As both of our families are not close by, my RSM family has come to mean so much to me and provides the support and flexibility that I need to be a first-choice advisor to my clients, be an asset to my team and to provide a stable and loving environment for our son. Two years ago, our team experienced the tragic and unexpected loss of one of our members, and working through that loss together has showed me how much bigger family is. We are there for each other no matter how small or big the need. Knowing that I work with such a caring and supportive team and firm makes my ability to do my job as a manager, a spouse and a parent a lot easier.

What habits have you created over time that have led you to face such a challenge in the way that you are or have? Why were those habits important to you at the time? How did you develop a commitment to such habits?
I have learned to prioritize my client’s deadlines and deliverables and to plan for as many things as I can for my work and home life. I have always been a planner, but juggling my career and my personal life has led me to use all of the tools at my disposal to stay on task. I use my calendar for meetings as well as basic reminders for my son’s activities, vet visits, reminders for my advisees, and even reminders to take out the garbage. When I am sitting in the drop-off and pickup lines at school or commuting to a client, I use that time to catch up with my team and see how their day is going. Connecting and communicating with your team on a frequent basis is the key to success and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. I find the time to make myself available to my coworkers and they all know my work and home routine. Sometimes, they are even around during the bedtime routine, which has made them an important part of my son’s life as well. 

Tell us your day-by-day plans to move forward through this challenging time of life. How are others able to help and support you?
Once the school district reopened to on-campus learning, we felt that it was in the best interest of our son’s mental wellbeing and education for him to return to school, however, we were not comfortable with him going on the bus or attending aftercare. I discussed our decision with my career advisor and team, and they were all very supportive and flexible with the changes in my work schedule to allow me to pick my son up after school each day and to continue working when I was able. Living and surviving during this pandemic has taught me to take everything one day at a time, one deadline at a time. I am learning to live by what I tell my son every day on the way to school, “Just try your best.”

What message would you give to our RSM professionals who face similar challenges themselves or who have family members facing such challenges?
Do not be afraid to ask for help and look into the resources that the firm provides. We all face challenges in our personal and professional lives and being honest with your support team about the difficulties you are encountering can help lessen the burden and empower you to face those challenges head on and conquer them. Just know that you are not alone and have a firm that supports you in all aspects of your life.


Family First

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Family First

Family First serves as an active voice around shared family challenges and promoting an inclusive, respectful workplace.