Jennifer Bevan / Executive Career Coach and founder, Path Relaunch 

Los Angeles

Reinventing my career after having my first child. I stepped off the corporate track to build a career that would allow me to prioritize my life as a mom. It was liberating! I no longer let where I worked or what I did define me and allowed myself to tap into innate skills I truly enjoyed using. Since becoming a career coach, I have helped over 1,000 people navigate career transitions which has been incredibly rewarding.

I set my own schedule and work from home, which gives me the flexibility to take my kids to school, pick them up, take them to activities etc.

10 yr old son, 8 yr old daughter

Glass of white wine and an episode of Scandal

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple & Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

I love anything by Ina Garten. I make a ceasar dressing of hers (with ½ the olive oil she suggests) that is my go-to!

Architectural Digest and People (I need my pop culture fix!)

So many! Scandal, Homeland, The Affair, Bloodline

I am all about the Cloud! Little to nothing is saved on my hard drive. All my work files are on Dropbox; I use Google Drive to share files with clients; I use Evernote for all notes, to-do-lists and web-clippings; My photos sync to Google Photos (which I LOVE, especially for sharing albums!). I even use Doodle to schedule group meetings and social events. It’s a much more efficient way to pin down a date for a Moms’ Night Out without all the back and forth emails!

Be OK with saying “No.” I used to over-commit, saying yes to every volunteer request at my kids’ school, saying yes to work projects that didn’t align with a clear strategy… I was the ultimate people pleaser and it was hurting me. I slowly started letting go of the need to “do it all” and practiced saying no little by little. It’s been extremely liberating — emotionally and time wise!

I don’t know if there is ever a 50-50 balance. To me it’s like a see saw. Sometimes it tilts slightly more towards work and sometimes (like this summer when I took a blissful 2 ½ weeks off!) it tilted more towards life. And it’s constantly shifting, but I try to make sure it’s “hovering” around the balance point!

JCB and client1. As a career coach, what do you find is the most common need that people come to you with?

In general, people come to me for help navigating career change or want to strategize their long term career development. People also come to me when they are in the middle of a job search and need help developing the skills needed to navigate today’s job market (i.e., networking, personal branding, and interview skills).

I love helping people on two dimensions — the coaching needed to build greater self awareness, as well as the tactical and strategic advice to make their career change happen. One tactical approach I take is to help people practice their communications and interview skills through mock interviews. So many people go into interviews and networking conversations under prepared, and there’s no better way to get ready than to practice with someone who will give you straight, actionable feedback!

In addition to mothers re-entering the workforce, I also work with many executives — men and women — who are in the stride of their careers and are at a point in their lives (personally and professionally) where they want to take a step back and really assess their strengths, blind spots, challenge long-held beliefs and assumptions, and develop a plan to define or reinvent a career that reflects their values, interests, and strengths. It’s so rewarding when I can help people achieve that.

2. Are the needs your clients come to you for the same for men and women? How are they different?

When I start working with a client I have them fill out a priorities matrix I developed that allows one to assess and rank their key criteria for a job against one another (i..e, compensation, cultural fit with company, flexibility/lifestyle etc.) so you get a relative look at your most important criteria. My female clients who are also mothers almost always list their top priorities as lifestyle (a role that offers them flexibility, work/life balance etc) and cultural fit with the company. And that makes a lot of sense, as mothers tend to be the “default” parent in their family, so finding roles that allow them to integrate work with life is much more of a priority.

I don’t want to generalize about all men, so I’ll speak to trends I have seen with my male clients. Most of my male clients are seasoned professionals and tend to have gone for many years letting inertia dictate their career paths. When they come to me they are at a point where they want to redefine their careers to better align with priorities, values and strengths. It’s fun work, as many of these men have not taken the time to be self reflective (and may not be as comfortable doing so as women are) and I get to help them do that. It’s very transformative and game changing as coaching can help them build more self awareness and also change behaviors that allow them to be better leaders, communicators, even husbands!

3. What do your clients tell you about the state of work culture today?

I work with many business professionals who come from companies where the 24/7 work culture is still very much in play and this is especially prevalent at professional services firms like management consulting, banking, and law firms (and I can speak from personal experience having worked in both investment banking and consulting). My clients who come to me from these work environments are almost always leaving to find better work/life integration.

I think culture is as important as ever, and companies are starting to make culture a priority as evidenced by recent headlines, like Accenture and Microsoft’s groundbreaking parental leave policies. However, there are still many companies (Amazon is now synonymous with “bruising workplace”) that operate with the expectation that employees are answering emails at 11 p.m., or working through the weekend.

For anyone looking for more work life balance, doing the right due diligence to find a culture that “fits” their needs should be a priority. Have your antennae up when you are networking, interviewing, and interacting with employees in the company — observe how people talk about their jobs and their lives, how they interact with one another, how they treat you during the interview process.

I had a client who experienced several red flags during her interviews — a rude interviewer, last minute rescheduling of several meetings, lack of clarity in the job description — and sure enough, these all were clues into the culture of the company. Her instincts were telling her to run, yet she still accepted the job only to end up leaving less than a year later. Your instincts are usually right. Trust them!