A moment of Illumination

Posted October 18, 2013

Confession time, I want it all.

But, as hard as I try I still face the same struggles that women all over the world face each and every day, balancing work and family, trying to figure out how to succeed professionally, while at the same time being present for my kids. Let me be honest, I have missed school events, been half-present at work and am often filled with guilt. I have struggled with the conventional wisdom that suggests that to be a great mom you have to give up something professionally or that by focusing on my career I am somehow sacrificing my children. And then there is the idea that if you really do want it all, all you need to do is just lean in. Sure, just lean in, it’s so simple! Unfortunately, there were times when I felt if I leaned in any further, I might topple over in my heels.

I spent years struggling with the same paradigm that so many women face, what to do? How to have it all? How to make time at work fulfilling and worth the time away from family? How to make time with family meaningful? I wrestled with these questions as my career and children both grew. As I pondered these questions, I started to understand that there was no one out there to answer them for me. They can tell me what worked for them, whether it was leaning in or dying empty but what they could not do was tell me what was right for me.
I had to stop trying to manage my destiny from within someone else’s structure. In short, I had to find my own path to having it all.


This may seem like a simple statement but this idea did not come easily for me. As women, we often attribute our success to luck or circumstance, instead of skill and talent. As I pondered my how I might achieve my own personal and professional goals, I often framed my successes in terms of others: opportunities were given and lucky chances taken. Then, in a cathartic moment, I realized that while those things helped, the fact of the matter is I have worked my ass off. My passion and tenacity have allowed me to prove I can lead, deliver and accomplish anything I choose.

I realized that it was up to me to create a work environment where I can love what I do, where I can support and celebrate my co-workers and colleagues successes, where I can make a difference in this world and be fulfilled in the other parts of my life. It was with this mission that I began to work with my partner, Anne Dougherty, to launch Illume. It was with this vision that I started down my own path.

The idea of owning my own firm had always intrigued me, but the bravery to act escaped me. When I met Anne, we had a lot of conversations about the industry that we love and opportunities that slip by professionally and personally. We also both worried about having to choose between family and career and kept returning to the idea of building balance into all we do. So we started to construct a vision for our careers that would bring us the fulfillment we wanted.

We realized that if we are investing in work, it should be work we love. We wanted the satisfaction of truly moving our industry forward and making it better, directly tied to the creation of a better world. We had glimpses of this working for other firms, but never quite found ourselves there because we were not driving the goal and vision. We wanted to actively build for ourselves what we aimed to foster through our work: a healthy, sustainable, illuminated life. We wanted to introduce joy into our work. This spark is the foundation of Illume and it is the level of passion, integrity and hard work that Illume brings to the industry and our clients.
We are excited to be on this path and we hope nothing more than for you to find your own similar moments of illumination.