Meet Christi from our Family First employee network group
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION |
RSM’s Family First employee network group (ENG) builds community around shared experiences, and serves as a support system for the wellbeing and growth of its members and others to help them be their best at home, work and in their communities. Through our Family First member spotlights, we share stories about life experiences of some of our people. Check out the Q&A below with Christi, an assurance supervisor based out of our Chicago office, who uses communication and flexibility to manage life at home and work.
Tell us about a challenge you are currently facing or have faced.
My daughter, Melissa, was born with a rare birth defect called giant omphalocele, which occurs in one out of every 10,000 births. This was detected in the 12th week of my pregnancy and my doctor referred me to a specialist since she had never seen it before. There were weekly ultrasounds until birth to monitor, followed by some time in the neonatal intensive care unit after her arrival. I was unable to work for the first three years of Melissa’s life due to the care she needed and the many related doctor visits. Then I joined RSM. Melissa has had two surgeries in the last year, one in July and one recently in December. She is an amazingly tough kid who has been through quite a bit in her seven years and we get to celebrate her eighth birthday next month!
What roles do family and RSM play in the face of such challenge?
Our families are quite far away physically, in Texas and Turkey, but their emotional support has been invaluable through this journey with Melissa. The times we are able to travel either down south or across the Atlantic have given us opportunities for Melissa to connect to her family and strengthen her bonds with them. The people I work with at RSM are an incredible group of people who are understanding, supportive and allow for me to have the flexibility I need at times for her care, not only for medical reasons but just for being there as mom.
What habits have you created over time that have you face such a challenge? Why were those habits important? How did you develop a commitment to such habits?
I come into the office early in the morning, which allows me time to address all my work needs and enables me to get home earlier to spend more time with Melissa after school in the evenings. During busy season, I work on the train on my way home, which gives me a head-start on the night’s work ahead. It’s important for me to have dinner at home with my family, help with homework, read a book together for story-time and be involved in the bedtime routine. Once Melissa is asleep, I switch from “mom” to “auditor,” and work a reasonable time before it’s time to do it all again.
Communication is key for my engagement teams. Everyone is aware of my schedule and my work routine. The flexibility afforded here at RSM is so appreciated, and being able to have some control of where I am and when I work has been invaluable in so many ways. I make sure that I am available to my colleagues even when I’m not in the office, and if there are parenting commitments, I communicate those as well. I have kept in mind internal and external client expectations. Melissa’s medical appointments and surgeries were scheduled during times that had the minimal impact for my teams and clients.
Tell us your day-by-day plans to move forward through this challenging time of life. How are others able to help and support?
My day-by-day challenges of Melissa’s medical journey and simply being a working mom are the same: it’s all about communication and setting expectations – both at work and at home. The ability to integrate my work and life to fulfill my commitments for both is difficult at times but can be done. My teams’ understanding and acceptance of the time I spend being mom in the evenings, participating in dance parties with my girl on Fridays and keeping Sunday for other responsibilities and downtime at home helps with the balancing act.
I couldn’t do this without the understanding of my family as well. When Melissa and I were updating the calendar with upcoming events at the beginning of this year, she asked if there was a special sticker called “start of busy season” like there was for holidays or school closings. This is a part of her year and she understands the time it takes. She also knows that she will be rewarded with my full attention for her patience. My husband takes on more during this time of year as well and I couldn’t be here without his stepping up.
What message would you give to your colleagues and friends who face similar challenges or who have family members facing such challenges?
My biggest advice is just to communicate. I’m fortunate to work with a firm that has so many resources for families and individuals. RSM has so many amazing people with so many stories that could be similar to your own. You will get the support, understanding and resources you need so speak up and share your story.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Family First serves as an active voice around shared family challenges and promoting an inclusive, respectful workplace.