In her new book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is looking to empower other women to break through the glass ceiling and blaze a similar path to corporate boardrooms. Now a familiar name from the past has come out from the shadows to offer a different perspective, warning women – and men, really – to think hard before leaning in too far.
Erin Callan, former chief financial officer at Lehman Brothers, disappeared from the spotlight in 2008 when the firm imploded into bankruptcy. Now she’s back to caution against the perils of devoting your full self to your career.
In an interview that aired Friday on NBC, Callan, a divorcee with no children, told viewers: “Don’t do it like me.”
A Harvard graduate with a law degree from New York University School of Law, Callan was tapped as the CFO of Lehman at age 41 after sprinting her way up the ranks on Wall Street. Her work ethic was legendary, her Blackberry addiction stifling and her personal life a corroded mess, she told NBC.
“You can have an amazing career with great success, even in a male-dominated field that I did,” she said. “But be careful what you wish for and the choices that you make.”
Callan’s free time was spent sleeping, recharging her batteries for upcoming marathon days of work. Her spouse, friends and family never got to see her true self, only “what was left over,” she wrote in a recent op-ed for the New York Times.
What she recommends to younger women is not to avoid corporate life, but rather to find a rational work/life balance that allows you to appreciate the things you work for.
When asked if her thoughts are aligned with current feminist thought, Callan said yes. “I think it’s incredibly feminist what I’m saying because I’m saying it’s up to you,” she said. “I’m just trying to provide a bit of what I’ll call a warning label that, hey, there’s something else to think about as you’re ‘leaning in.’”
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