Working While “Mom-ing” Reviewed by Momizat on . Has Work-Life Balance Changed After COVID-19? In this article, the author shares a personal story regarding how the COVID-19 outbreak affected her role as a pro Has Work-Life Balance Changed After COVID-19? In this article, the author shares a personal story regarding how the COVID-19 outbreak affected her role as a pro Rating: 0
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Working While “Mom-ing”

Has Work-Life Balance Changed After COVID-19?

In this article, the author shares a personal story regarding how the COVID-19 outbreak affected her role as a professional and mother. The story shared is about perseverance and focus, and emerging emotionally stronger as a mother and valuation professional.

Working While “Mom-ing”: Has Work-Life Balance Changed After COVID-19?

Like many valuation analysts, I began my career at a CPA firm. Several years into my career, I became a mother. I was passionate about my work and wanted to continue my career but did not want to outsource motherhood. I gained valuable experience from some of the professionals I worked for but ultimately wanted to own my own firm.

Like many working parents, I struggled and strived to discover or maintain a balance between separate family and working worlds. Often, I felt the best way to accomplish this was by keeping distance between the worlds, and, somehow, it seemed that my role as a mother could not get too near my work world without diminishing my professional image. This separation naturally became much more difficult when I took the leap into entrepreneurship and made my home office my primary workspace. These struggles were things I generally kept to myself—at least before COVID-19.

COVID-19 has had many interesting impacts on the workforce: some good and some bad. We have seen many leave the workforce completely; some for noble or courageous reasons, others for less noble ideals, and still more due to circumstances out of their control. We have seen a resurgence in remote work accompanied by many companies abandoning or greatly reducing physical office space. Trends in layouts of office spaces that companies do maintain have shifted. Time spent commuting to and from work has decreased; meanwhile, many employees have seen their workdays lengthen (sometimes to the point of burn-out or mental health concerns). One of the changes that affected me very personally during (and since) COVID-19 is the shift in attitudes toward the occasional collisions of the family and work worlds.

During COVID-19, these collisions became unavoidable for many families as school, recreation, and work occupied the same limited square footage and the physical boundaries between family life and work life disappeared overnight. The taboo incident of a child leaning his head slowly over, over, over until he could see himself in the Zoom meeting, morphed into something to which most working professionals can admit that they relate. I used to run and hide from my children when they tried to corner me in my office during a phone call. Now, instead of worrying about how to catch my breath after bounding up a flight of stairs two steps at a time, I typically acknowledge the existence of my family and can generally expect a response of nonchalant acceptance. It is not that the interruptions did not happen to me pre-COVID-19: I have had to suck it up and pretend no one can see the spit up on a blazer; I have rolled with a baby in the lap through virtual meetings; my family life has, at one point or another, very impetuously announced its presence, but it always came with a significant impression of being taken a little less seriously.

Writing this article has been a surreal task in and of itself, which reflects my overall mentality about being a professional and a mom. I feel compelled to talk in hushed tones about “mom stuff” with colleagues. I have had colleagues make awkward and inappropriate comments about me being a mom or having kids. I have also had colleagues—a great many—that showed support for my role as a professional and a mom well before COVID-19. Incredible women, who have had substantially more difficult paths as professional moms, have used their experiences to uplift and inspire me and other professional parents in their circle of influence. I may be in the minority to feel these insecurities—cracks in the wall of my professionalism—and it is ultimately strange in retrospect, since my oldest children went to at least half of my Young Professionals meetings and were dragged around the country for various conferences and events. I am not sure I can pinpoint why I felt that I would not be considered a competent professional if I let my “mom-ness” show, but I am starting to let go of that doubt.

Feeling more comfortable about working while “Mom-ing” has been just one of the unexpected silver-linings of the pandemic. This is not to say that the pandemic was not particularly challenging in various ways (i.e., the addition of Full-Time Teacher of multiple class curriculums, IT Manager, and Designated Grocery Shopper for all advanced-age relatives, to my list of roles). The pandemic also brought normalcy to a focus on results, not hours billed; which I think is ultimately a very healthy (and more accurate) measure of productivity.

Letting new valuation analysts focus on results, or the end-product, not only allows them to turn out thorough and well-reasoned analysis, but it also aligns their priorities more closely to the client’s. On the one hand, if extra time needs to be spent to research a topic, a focus on the quality of the report and underlying analysis allows for the work to be done without the counter-productive worries about a low realization. On the other hand, if the work can be completed quickly, the client is usually more than happy to have their valuation completed in short order. Does the client care if their project was worked on during normal business hours? Probably not. Does the client care if the analysts hit their charge goals? Probably not. Does the client really care if 40 hours or 400 hours went into the preparation of their valuation report? Probably not. Does the client care that this was your first ESOP valuation in 10 years, and you had to go spend an extra week researching repurchase liabilities? Not in a way that justifies higher fees, I believe they do not care about that additional work. Does the client care that the valuation got done? Of course. They might even be happy to know that the analysis was reasonable.

There are also things I miss from the good old, pre-COVID-19 days. For example, I miss being in-person for continuing education courses and annual conferences. Though I was well-positioned to take advantage of the rise in Zoom meetings and clients’ expectations of virtual work, there is an energy that just does not transmit across the internet. That buzz of energy is a quality only begotten in-person and is the solitary thing—well, maybe the solitary thing in combination with a recent Dr. Pepper and cheesecake break—that makes sitting through goodwill for two hours somehow engaging and memorable enough to incorporate into your practice after conference week. I have missed the opportunities to catch a group outside the conference rooms discussing Michael Gregory’s revelations of the inner-workings of the IRS or how the WACC assumptions should behave over perpetuity. I have been impressed with the creative ideas to liven-up virtual sessions and I am glad that we have gotten more comfortable accomplishing things from a distance—when necessary; but I look forward to getting back to more face-to-face networking and conference opportunities.

I believe many professionals have recognized that returning to a pre-pandemic “normal” is improbable, if not completely impossible. A significant segment of the workforce used this disruption as an opportunity to re-evaluate their life mission and the impact that they want to have on the world when all is said and done. It is not that the business world has been ignorant to the challenges of remote work nor to integrating and managing the competing expectations of work and personal responsibilities. Companies, such as IBM, have been publicly exploring these issues for years before the pandemic; but we finally reached a critical mass. The sudden and universal disorder highlighted the need for new models to evaluate and promote the well-being of employees. Despite the challenges, I have felt fortunate to be able to have control over how, where, and when I do my work; it has allowed me to be present in so many ways for my family. It has been interesting to watch many others in the workforce begin to prioritize or require this autonomy for themselves during the pandemic and these themes of work-life integration and virtual collaboration will continue to percolate and evolve long after we stop talking about COVID-19 (Finally!). Most of all, I have been thankful for the opportunity through the pandemic to rethink my persona as a working mom.


Janae Castell, CVA, MAFF, has practiced in the valuation industry since 2007. She focused her career path on her efforts to become highly skilled and highly specialized in The Core Body of Knowledge for Business Valuations. She has been qualified as an expert witness for commercial litigation and family and domestic proceedings. During her career, Ms. Castell emphasized projects with issues of dividing goodwill between corporate and personal attributes. She has conducted valuations for a variety of industries including healthcare, information services, oil and gas, manufacturing, insurance, and construction. She enjoys assisting startups and cultivating the entrepreneurial scene in Tulsa, which has been recognized as one of the strongest communities in the nation for young entrepreneurs. She has spoken for attorneys, students, bankers, business owners, accountants, financial officers, and business consultants to help educate them about business valuation. Within the valuation profession, Ms. Castell has been active in the training and qualification of other practitioners, as well as helping them stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in the industry.

Ms. Castell is a senior correspondent for the Around the Valuation World webcast—a monthly publication that updates practitioners across the nation on the latest news, trends, best practices, and activity within the business valuation and financial forensics professions. Ms. Castell is also an instructor for the valuation certification training (BVTC) and the Current Update in Valuations (CUV) courses. She served on the Valuation Credentialing Board (VCB) and was elected chair of that board during her term. The VCB has direct decision-making responsibility over the Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) designation criteria. The VCB is tasked with maintaining the highest quality standards in NACVA’s certification process in adherence to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation standards. Ms. Castell has published articles, including those published for peer review, when she sees need for them in the community. Ms. Castell was recognized nationally for the NACVA’s inaugural 40 Under Forty award. The best part of her job is helping businesses create, build, and protect value.

Ms. Castell can be contacted at (919) 280-8570 or by e-mail to Janae@RabahValue.com.

The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) supports the users of business and intangible asset valuation services and financial forensic services, including damages determinations of all kinds and fraud detection and prevention, by training and certifying financial professionals in these disciplines.

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