Family First Member Spotlight: Meet Patrick McConnell
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 Patrick McConnell, who prioritizes family, the task at hand and knowing which kid is trying to “run with scissors.”
Assurance senior manager
12 years with RSM
RSM’s 2019 Working Father of the Year
Member of Family First ENG
Tell us about a challenge you are currently facing or have faced.
Like everyone within the firm, COVID-19 has brought on some new and unique challenges. I remember when we first went into quarantine. My wife and four kids made a paper chain with one link for each kid every day until they would return to school. We had 40 links and quickly after about two weeks, my wife and I realized we wouldn’t have enough paper in our house to extend those links out long enough for all the kids. For those who have been on a conference call with me, they know that with four kids, I had to think fast and create an office, which turned out to be my walk-in closet. Although not the most professional, it has given me a three-door system between the kids and me, preventing them from interrupting any conference calls.
Through it all, the biggest challenge has been maintaining some sense of normalcy for my kids. We have focused on trying to create as much normalcy as possible through learning and fun activities while in quarantine, which has required some creativity.
What roles do family, faith and RSM play in the face of such challenge?
Working from home has integrated work and family a lot more than it has in the past. I have had some enjoyable conversations with my kids at breakfast and lunch about what I do. I can tell these talks are starting to rub off on my children a little bit. My first grade son was skeptical about the tooth fairy (as he stated – “that is gross that they just take my teeth”) and needed some audit evidence related to the tooth fairy’s existence. After losing a front tooth, his test was to count the money I had on my nightstand the night before and the day after the tooth fairy had come to see if the balance had changed. He’s already doing cash counts as a seven year old. RSM has also supported me through this period through discussions with colleagues and check-ins throughout the process.
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?
One of the habits that working at RSM (and having four kids in five years) has helped me develop is to assess my to-do list and determine which item needs to be done first and to focus on that item. At work, this means juggling between client deadlines, meetings and trying to stay ahead of what the clients will need. At home, it means assessing which kid is trying to run with scissors or eat something mysterious off the floor. While it is important that I finish reading the book to my daughter, if her younger brother gets in five more steps with those scissors it could mean stitches.
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?
Communication will be important, I think, moving forward. Sometimes working from home can remove the personal element of our job – the small talk with co-workers and clients. Trying to maintain that same level of personal connection while accomplishing our day-to-day tasks is challenging, but I think it’s something that still needs to be top of mind.
Also communicating with your RSM support team when you need assistance or are getting behind is important. Family needs can be more complex during COVID-19 with remote learning and quarantine, so keeping those you work with informed is important.
What message would you give to our RSM professionals facing similar challenges or who have family members facing such challenges?
It’s easier said than done, and I think working from home makes it harder, but my goal is to not let a hard or stressful day (or week) at work impact my home life. With those two blending more than ever, this can be difficult. But I think you have to cherish your time with your family. A lot of us wind down on the commute home, which now could just mean opening a door or walking down the stairs. So take five to 10 minutes to yourself after finishing up your work for the day to try to reset and recharge before joining your family and chasing kids with scissors (this is mostly a joke – we don’t have that many scissors-related events in the McConnell family).
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Family First serves as an active voice around shared family challenges and promoting an inclusive, respectful workplace.