"The secret to long-term happiness is part-time employment."

As CEO of Commonwealth Bank, Ian Narev, so rightly points out, “There is no right model. Ultimately the key is the choice of the individual and making sure that no matter what choice the individual makes, the organisation can help that person to have a thriving career. We don’t want to jam a right model down women’s throats. There are as many answers as there are women and we have to make sure that no matter what choice they make, the organisation enables that choice and shows that a successful career and self-fulfilment as a parent are not mutually exclusive.”

“For a very long time now I’ve been saying to young women, you can have it all, but not all at the same time.” – Quentin Bryce

I completely agree with this statement and I have seen women forge many different and successful paths. It’s a bold statement, and the Dalai Lama might disagree, but in my mind the secret to long-term happiness is part-time employment, especially when your children are young.

And as I’m such a strong advocate of part-time work as the best “structure” to ensure a happy home life and prosperous career.

I learnt a lot from my mother and her work/life balance. She was a secretary for the first 10 years of her working life. When she had children she stopped work and became a full-time mum for about 15 years. Then, when my youngest sister was still small, she started her own insurance broking business, working part-time. This family business has become incredibly successful, employing my brother, another one of my sisters and my sister-in-law. My mum is now 72 and still running the business. But the biggest les- son was that my mother started all of this when she was 42 years old, after having four children.

In other words, there’s still a lot of time left after you have children to realise your career aspirations. And it can be possible to have a career and work part-time so you really don’t need to totally stop working when your children are small.

Of course there are many other child rearing options, including full-time mother and/or father, but if your partner is unable or unwilling to take on a part-time role or become a house husband then I believe part-time work offers the perfect solution for the career mum.

This is an edited extract from Not Guilty: 7 Strategies for Successful Career Mums by Nicolette Rubinsztein. Available now through Ventura Press.

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