Be Well, Work Well: How Employees Can Thrive as Their Whole Selves

Episode 8

DeAnne Aussem, Managing Director and Wellbeing Leader at PwC, shares her inspiring journey as a female executive while navigating work, parenthood, and finding harmony across life's different spheres. DeAnne provides an inside look at PwC's pioneering "Be Well, Work Well" initiative launched in 2017 to prioritize employee wellness across six dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and social. DeAnne also opens up about her own experiences as a wife, mother of two, and a caregiver. Her authentic storytelling offers insights into modeling work-life integration, the importance of self-care, and creating truly inclusive cultures where employees can thrive as their whole selves. 

Read the full transcript

00:00:05 - Commercial
Welcome to The Work-Life Equation, hosted by Priya Krishnan and Paul Sullivan. During this episode, you will hear from working parents just like you who understand the daily struggles and triumphs while finding our unique work life equation. Now, here are your hosts.

00:00:23 - Priya Krishnan
Hello everyone, and welcome to The Work-Life Equation podcast. I'm Priya Krishnan and I'm the Chief Digital and Transformation officer at Bright Horizons.

00:00:32 - Paul Sullivan
And I'm Paul Sullivan, founder of The Company of Dads and your co-host for this season of The Work-Life Equation podcast.

00:00:39 - Priya Krishnan
Our guest today is a wife, a mother of two, and also the Managing Director and Well-being Leader at PwC. Not only has she been cited as the leading coaching guinea, she's been featured in Forbes, The New York Post, Working <other, and several other publications for her amazing, notable work. She's done a remarkable job of creating a program at PwC for moms, dads and caregivers alike. And so stay with us and learn more. And please join me in welcoming DeAnne Aussem. How can you go wrong with a name like ‘Aussem’?

00:01:19 - DeAnne Aussem
Well, thank you so much for that lovely introduction. It is quite a name that is a conversation starter, at least, so I try to live up to it, but we know how that goes.

00:01:31 - Priya Krishnan
I'd love to hear about your journey, Deanne, in terms of what have been your experiences as a female leader within the corporate space and how that has both shaped your perspective and what have you brought to the leadership roles at PC?

00:01:49 - DeAnne Aussem
Yes. Well, it's hard for me to believe that I'm going to share this number with you, but it's, it's approaching 30 years of professional. This is where you gasp in awe, Paul.

00:02:03 - Paul Sullivan
I would have said 28. No more than 28 ever.

00:02:06 - Priya Krishnan
I would have said 15. That's right.

00:02:10 - DeAnne Aussem
So I've had an incredibly rich career. My degree is actually in accounting, which I got from a liberal arts college. And sometimes people ask a few questions about how that worked. But it worked. I spent time in the audit field. I did about a decade in consulting. I've worked in the diversity and inclusion space, learning and development, leadership development, executive coaching, health and wellness, health and well being, coaching and strategy, talent transformation and more. So I've really had a great career and I've been able to navigate around a few different stops along the way. So usually when I'm asked this question, I try to reflect back on one or two things. And I was lucky enough to go through a global leadership development experience. This was back in 2005. It was global. I was one of 13 people from ten different countries, spending a five-month immersive residency, really, in Washington, DC. So that experience really is one that stands out as a highlight for me. It was my first real appreciation for diversity of thought and how culture translates and plays into so many things. I thought I knew a lot, and I thought I was pretty good at diversity and inclusion and respect and valuing folks for what they bring. But that experience really just took it to a deeper level, and I think shifted my trajectory a bit to go even deeper into the space of d and I and belonging and leadership and well-being and culture, really. So that's a little tour of my career.

00:04:07 - Paul Sullivan
You know, we're going to mix the personal and the professional today, and I want to get later on in our conversation. For listeners, what you put together on the wellness initiative at PwC is incredibly impressive, but that's going to be later in the show. I want to talk now about your own personal journey as an executive, as somebody who's been at PwC for a couple decades. When you think back to that person you were that woman you were 20 plus years ago, I won't say 30, because we already had an issue.

00:04:43 - DeAnne Aussem

00:04:43 - Paul Sullivan
Just where you are in your career, but where corporate America has moved and moved more or less in a positive direction or different direction than where it was before, in terms of inclusion, in terms of understanding the whole employee, in terms of understanding the importance of wellness, be that mental health, be that caregiver or parental leave and everything else around that. When you back, I mean, I'm not gonna ask you if you could have imagined it. Cause that's a tough question. But when you think of the markers along your career where you say, okay, things are getting a little bit better, things are getting better. What are some of those markets markers that really stood out for you to get us to where we are today?

00:05:24 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah, it's a great question, and I'll primarily stick to the last couple of decades, Paul, because I think that's where I can pull the most relevant examples. Because when you first start your career, you're just learning how to learn and what's expected and trying to meet the requirements. And I had some different licensing needs, and so the trainings, and that's kind of a different aspect of just getting started, I think. But once I got more comfortable in maybe my own professional skin, there wasn't a lot of mentors, sponsors that looked like me, or certainly when we think about the LGBTQ community aspect, that were maybe as out early on in my career, maybe they were, and I didn't notice or maybe I was focused on other things, but I really started to pay attention differently, I would say when I was promoted to a manager level and now I was responsible for really mentoring, sponsoring, supporting, coaching folks in a different, in a different way. PwC has always had a very deep appreciation for coaching, mentoring, sponsorship, and then when. So having had access to that and exposure to that, when I went through this global leadership development experience that I mentioned, I had access to an executive coach. And that was really the first time at that level and stage in my career. I was a director then at the time, but that type of self-awareness building, that type of bringing it back to home, because it's easy to point out what others could be doing differently or better or whatnot. But when you really think about how do I start with me as a human, as a leader, as a colleague, and I have to do my own self work first, really. So that experience gave me a different appreciation for what it was like to be coached in that way and also some inspiration in how I wanted to show up differently, really looking at the whole person. So not just the professional lens or what's it going to take to get that next promotion at work, but really what is it going to take for you to dig deep into your own values and what you appreciate and what you're looking for so that you can make that known, activating your own voice, if you will, by looking for those types of opportunities. And also don't forget to pay it forward. So that's something I'm very conscious of, is I've had so many great mentors, so many great sponsors. I want to be that for other people. And I also do have a deep appreciation for diversity. I think it is something that allows us to be better together in whatever it is that we're doing. And it's not just about paying attention to who is showing up, but how they're showing up and what they're bringing with them. Because everybody has a different story. And so taking time to listen, taking time to understand different upbringings or different culture, different norms, different values, and really trusting people and believing them when they tell you their story, instead of running it through our own individual filters or having some sort of opinion or maybe even a judgment about it, everybody wants to be seen, heard and valued. And so I think that's so incredibly important. As a leader, if you want to get the best out of your teams, you have to know them as people. You have to know what they value and how they feel valued in the workplace.

00:09:37 - Priya Krishnan
It's interesting, because the notion of saying you have to be included before you can attract diverse populations, and so creating that safe space is really, really critical. I'd love to hear your perspective on your family and who are you, have an adopted child, and tell us a little bit about your wife, your naturally born child, your adopted child, and we'd love to know how you supported each stage of your family building as well.

00:10:08 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah. Yeah, I'd love to share that. Thank you for asking. And I should say that leadership development experience that I've mentioned a couple of times now is actually where I met my wife, because she was one of the participants from the Australian firm, from one of our offices in Australia, and we were participating in that program at the same time. So I need to go on record and say that was the number one takeaway from that.

00:10:35 - Priya Krishnan
No wonder. No wonder you think about it so fondly.

00:10:40 - DeAnne Aussem
But. So we've been together since 2005. We've been together for a while. We both had big careers and were moving right along before kids came. And then we just decided, you know, we did want to start a family, which, as a same sex couple, takes a little different effort and science to be on your side. So we started talking to doctors and exploring things like IUI and IVF. And it's actually something that is such an important conversation to have. And at PwC, we have a variety of different inclusion networks, affinity groups, and talking about this type of thing is something we do a lot because a lot of our people are thinking about starting a family, and how do I do that, and what resources are available to me, and whether you're a same sex couple or not, we have a variety of things that can support our people every step of the way. That was so important and valuable to me and to my wife and our now family. So my son, we went through a series of IVF, and we were lucky enough to get pregnant with him. And the interesting thing there is that we used my wife's eggs, found a donor, and then I carried the pregnancy. So that was a big team effort for him. He just turned 13. So we have an official teenager in the house now, which, again, seems almost as hard to believe as 30 years in my professional career with our daughter. We adopted her. So again, going through the IVF process, we had exhausted all of our frozen embryos. And I'm adopted. My sister is adopted. It was always something we were open to, but of course, we wanted to finish out that IVF journey first. And she came and completed our family in July of 2012. So she is eleven and a half. Yes, if you do the math. I have two middle schoolers, which is a journey and probably a separate podcast in and of itself to talk about. But it's been wonderful, and we partner with Bright Horizons. It's a service for backup daycare, childcare that I used a lot as one of the many wonderful resources that we had available at PwC. We have very generous leaves of absences for parents to spend time with their children, for naturally born and adopted foster care as well. So there's all kinds of different scenarios that we offer time and space for our people to be able to not only start grow, but also take care of our family members when needed. And I'm talking mostly about children, of course, because that's my story. But we also have a lot of caregiver benefits, and again, know that a lot of people are responsible for aging parents or other loved ones. In my case, I take care of my elderly aunt with dementia who just turned 86 last month. So there's a lot going on in people's lives that they need support for. And I've always been, maybe unapologetically, vocal about sharing my story, sharing where I'm at, what I'm going through. And that has really resonated with folks. So I wouldn't just tell you I'm not available for a meeting. I would say I'm not able to make that time because I'm chaperoning a child's field trip, or I have to take my child to the doctor's appointment or whatever it is. And especially young parents have reached out to say how important Matt has been. It's maybe in some ways given a little bit of permission for them to share when maybe they haven't felt empowered or safe or just haven't tried it yet. So I think if you, you have to let people know your story and you have to be open and willing to share. And in my experience, people have been very receptive, very empathetic and understanding. And so again, I try to role model that and encourage others to do the same.

00:15:00 - Paul Sullivan
You know, Deanne, for obvious reasons, PwC is a smart firm, and they put you in charge of wellness. Like, you're the perfect person for this when you hear your story, but, you know, the modeling you do is so important for, you know, more junior people who don't have the managing director data don't have the position of power that you do. But, you know, you've been at the firm two decades. When you think about, obviously you want to, you're not naturally optimistic person. You're a naturally open person. You're thinking of the people who helped you along the way. But when you think of other firms, doesn't have to be PwC specific, but other firms where managers are struggling, employees reporting to them are struggling. They're struggling because the people at the tippity-top aren't modeling the way you're modeling, and they're not modeling the world that we live in today. And they're focused on what we call in behavioral finance confirmation bias. They got to that level by doing series of things, and therefore, you should do the same. What advice would you give to people at other firms and other industries? This, of course, is one of the things PwC does. Your great consultants, you're helping people. But what's the advice that you give to other leaders who are struggling to do what PwC has done or want to emulate what PwC has done? Because it's all about that modeling and making people believe you can give the greatest leave policy in the world. But as you're heading out the door to take your 20 or 25 weeks, somebody says, I can't. Are you really going to take all that leave? Well, that just kind of ruins the whole thing. So what's the advice that you give to other firms that you try to help, you know, solve some of the things that you've already solved at PwC?

00:16:26 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah, it's a great question. And certainly, different organizations, just like different individuals, are going to be at a different stage of their journey and some industries. And so there's a lot of different factors to consider. So I want to say that, as a bit of a caveat, to say what I might offer might not fit a certain organization right now for some very good reasons. But what I do think every organization can do is take time to listen to the needs of your people. We have so many benefits, resources, offerings, because our people shared what they needed or asked for what they wanted. It didn't happen immediately, maybe, or we offered some other version of something. But that's what I would say every organization can do is listen. Take the time to listen to your employees, to listen to what your people are asking for and needing. Some of it might be possible, some of it might not be, but that transparency and communication, and then the follow up when somebody does share. I mean, there's. If somebody's going to give you feedback, action that feedback, or if you're unable to tell them why, I think people really appreciate understanding and having that transparency. The other thing I would say is there is so much data. You know, we love data at PwC, but there is so much data out there that supports this notion that happy, healthy employees do better work. Whether you look at productivity studies, whether you look at various mental health studies, whether you look at leave of absences or, you know, illness and prevention versus treatment, there is so much out there. One of the things that I think is also really important is this notion of connection, because we, as humans, are innately wired for connection. And so when you reach out and connect with someone and just ask a very simple question, how are you feeling? Last we talked, you had this going on. Where are things at now, right, that. Espousing that culture of care, again, which is something we. It's one of our values here at PwC. It's something we like to walk the talk on. It's a pretty easy thing to do, to show up and just ask someone about themselves, how they're feeling, and what might you be able to do to support them if they need that? Sometimes people enjoy hearing out loud instead of, I've heard managers say, well, they know I'm here for them. Well, take the time to actually mention it. So that's, I would say, listening to your people, for sure. I would say reading and understanding the data and the research that supports well-being as a strategic business priority, because that's how we have positioned it at PwC. You know, we have tied it to our business objectives. We've tied it to our new equation. We've tied it within our myplus strategy. All the things that we talk about at the firm, again, are bringing this forward. One other thing I'll mention, just getting back to listening, and this is maybe a very tangible idea that employers can think about. We created what we call a candid conversation series. So these are basically spaces for our people to come together, discuss their perspectives and experiences, and have candid conversations like this that we actually schedule throughout the year. Why do we do this? Well, when we listen to each other, we can learn. When we listen to each other, we can better understand the lived experiences of those that we work alongside with every day. We spend a lot of our time and life at work. So, again, we do these candid conversation series at the national level, at the local office level, and again, as I mentioned earlier, two recent candid conversation series that we had were around family formation. So topics like IVF and miscarriage. And we've also had a candid conversation series with one of our networking circles, affinity groups, that I mentioned, the abilities and allies inclusion network about caring for a child with a disability. So again, we're wired for connection. We learn through the stories that we're able to share and we can take action and move forward together when we engage in this. And a candid conversation series might just be something for folks to think about.

00:21:14 - Priya Krishnan
It's incredible that. I love the fact that you say you're listening, because I think Paul and I were talking about this earlier, the fact that there are so many generations in the workforce, needs are different. The definition of family is changing. So I think of this decade as the decade of HR, because you've had to deal with taking people remote, then bringing them back into the office. And there's a lot that is going on in there. But a question for you is one, is you're seeking feedback. It's not very easy to implement on that feedback. You have to make the business case internally to say, hey, we're hearing this consistently and this is going to cost both time, effort and money and what's a tough economic environment. How do you do that within PwC? And I love the fact that you've said these are tied to your strategic goals, but how do you navigate that saying, here are themes we're hearing and these are investments we have to make in our people.

00:22:13 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah, and it's, again, I want to say this in a way that it doesn't just come off as this is easy to do. Maybe in some cases it is. But to your point, a lot of this might require a shift in priorities or additional funding or some other resources that might not be readily available and that we have to, that we have to go out and source. One example, though, that I think is worth mentioning is a recent change that we've made from feedback that we've heard from our people is increased parental leave. So that is a. We've increased the amount of time off that our folks have access to. We also have some other interesting flexibility, I would say when we think about the flexibility needs of people even beyond parental leave. And just to finish that thought, when we expanded our parental leave for all parents, we went from eight to twelve weeks. And so again, the additional time, whether it's bonding with a newborn or a newly adopted or foster care child, and then one of the add-ons to that is when our folks are returning to work. We do offer an additional four weeks of phased return to work, which again can allow them to work a reduced schedule of, say, 60% of a 40 hours workweek or 24 hours, but they're paid their regular base pay. So that's kind of an on ramp back into working after being off on that parental leave that we have increased, like I said. So again, I think part of this is understanding what people's wants and needs are. Sometimes maybe you have something that comes close. We have that as well. Sometimes it's a matter of people just don't know all that we offer. And so we have to really educate and find ways to communicate, maybe even in some cases direct market some of what's on offer so that we are raising people's awareness and driving that adoption. So it may not be net new, it might be what you have already or another version of what you have already. So we're always in that iteration, listening, iterate and hopefully coming back with things that our people are really interested in. You mentioned something that I just wanted to come back to, and it's the importance of safe space. You mentioned this, Priya and Paul, I know we've talked about this as well. When you have that safe space or you have those policies might seem a little too heavy, but policies are good too. When you have that permission for folks to show up as their authentic self, it can really open the door to so many wonderful things. And one other thing that we've done that I just again wanted to mention was we have a voluntary submission of self identification data for our people. So when our people self-identify in different ways, then of course we gain a more dynamic understanding of the employee workforce across many different forms of diversity and lived experiences. So this year, 72% of our people have used our self-identification features. This, again, is an idea, maybe for other organizations to consider, and they voluntarily disclosed aspects of their identity. This might be things like veteran status or disability status or LGBTQ identity. So again, I wanted to come back to that and just mention one other thing that we've done. And again, maybe that's a form of listening to our folks, but giving them the opportunity to share and self-identify and have that data to drive data driven decision making has been very, very helpful as well.

00:26:31 - Paul Sullivan
You're listening to the Work life Equation podcast with Paul and Priya. Our guest today is Deanne awesome, who runs well-being at PwC. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back.

00:26:53 - Speaker A
What's more magical than a childhood filled with days of play, learning, exploration, and discovery at Bright Horizons? We think of childcare as a chance to help a child experience it all. Our teachers go beyond the usual ensuring your child has an enriching, satisfying day. They take the time to listen, engage, encourage, and celebrate the wins big and small. At Bright Horizons, we put the care in childcare. Visit to find a center near you. Welcome back to the Work Life Equation with Priya Krishnan and Paul Sullivan. We hope you're enjoying this episode and are finding the stories empowering and inspirational. Now back to the show.

00:27:45 - Priya Krishnan
Welcome back to the Work Life Equation podcast. We're here with Deanne. Awesome. And we're looking forward to the second part of this conversation, Diane. So, Diane, one of the things that.

00:27:57 - Paul Sullivan
Impresses me, and you and I have talked about this in the past, but, you know, PwC developed its be well, work well program back in 2017, which is amazing, really ahead of the curve. But then this thing called Covid happens in 2020, and people go home, they come back. Other companies are trying to figure out what are we going to do around the well-being of our employees. Some have figured it out. Some are still struggling. Some perhaps are kind of head in the sand about this, talk about how this program, the be well, work well program, came to be and then discuss how you had to tweak it during COVID and everything that's followed since then.

00:28:37 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, as you said, Paul, in 2017 is when we officially introduced be well, work well. This is really our effort to create an environment where our PWC-ers are encouraged to bring their best selves to work, and they are supported across six dimensions of energy, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, and social. So, again, and I do want to say we launched be well, work well kind of officially in 2017. But we had long talked about well being as a leadership skill and in a variety of other ways through our focus on flexibility and other things well before 2017. That was just really the official launch. But why did we do that? We did that because we really do believe to succeed and thrive, we have to embrace practices that energize us and prioritize our well being so that we can be our best selves at home, at work, in our communities, etcetera. You mentioned this thing called Covid, and the impact of the pandemic, as well as various changes and events that we've all experienced over the past few years, have really only reinforced the importance of personal well being and the need for businesses and organizations to really commit to creating environments that enable everyone to put their health first, really in the first year of our transformational people experience. I mentioned it before, but we refer to it as myplus. And again, this was in our fiscal 23. So within the last year or so, we expanded protected time. So we have two week long firm-wide shutdowns each year, one in July, 1 in December, and we've also launched a lot of various tech enabled solutions to make it easier for our people to plan and communicate and ultimately take protected time off. We've also doubled down on flexibility. So, again, working flexibly has always been something that has been a big part of our culture. It's something that is ingrained in who we are, rather than something that is earned. It's just something that we offer. So our people really do appreciate being able to choose when and where they work. And we're going to continue to prioritize flexibility by listening to our people through driving an inclusive and hybrid workforce culture, and looking at a variety of different flexibility arrangements, things like reduced schedules. We have a 20% pay leave of absence options to work internationally for those that meet certain immigration and, of course, tax restrictions. But this return to in person, we've shared with our entire PwC community the desire to get back together. As I said earlier, as humans, we are wired for social connection. You do that differently when you're in person versus us being here, looking at each other on a screen. So where we started, and again, we're always iterating. And I'm not saying we have it completely right or that it won't change again, depending on what we hear and what we're seeing with our folks. But our previous guidance was we wanted to have as many of our employees work at a PwC office or a client site one to three days a week going forward. What we're asking is that our people get together and try to spend 50% of their time over the course of a year with each other and or with their clients. So, again, being together, it's an important part of our culture. It really allows us to keep our clients needs at the center of everything that we do. We know in person interaction supports greater collaboration, innovation, incremental project opportunities, better relationships, but yet, we still do see the value in flexibility in working remotely. So, again, our guidance, I give you that example because our guidance really is trying to find the right balance to support in person interactions and remote working, because it's something we're going to continue with, I think, for a while to come.

00:33:13 - Priya Krishnan
I think the fact that you're thinking about it, it is an evolving process, and it is an evolving workspace in general. The fact that you've had an initiative and you're thinking about it consistently is interesting. It was also interesting to hear about your six pillars outside of financial, the five would be something that we would anchor in early childhood for children, and we would say it's social, emotional, physical, including spiritual. Understanding self and understanding your environment is really critical, so it's nice to sort of revisit it in your adult years.

00:33:51 - DeAnne Aussem
Priya, I'm sorry, just one thing on that. When we say spiritual, what we are talking about is living a life most deeply aligned with our values.

00:34:00 - Priya Krishnan

00:34:01 - DeAnne Aussem
So I love that this is resonating with you and early childhood development principles.

00:34:09 - Priya Krishnan
And whatnot as well, because as mothers, that's what we want. Right. I certainly wanted to raise my kids saying, be completely comfortable in your own skin before you try to fit in anywhere. And then you hope for inclusive environments for them. But I wanted to switch gears and ask you how becoming a mother and becoming a wife has influenced your leadership style in general. You know, you're clearly an advocate for family supports and supporting various stages of families and whatever is the new definition of family. But how has that influenced you overall? And how do you think life's changed since. Since becoming a partner as well as a parent?

00:34:54 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah. Well, it is truly the biggest gift of my lifetime, being a parent. It's one of those things you don't know until it actually happens, and then it just is. It's life changing. So what we went through, we spent three and a half years trying to create family. And so once we were able to do that, it has just really, again, been the greatest gift. So family is my number one value. That is something I am incredibly clear on. Every time I take a new values assessment, it always ends up still in the number one spot. And so having that type of clarity, I start there, and I base every decision that comes after based on how is this going to impact my family? When I have to travel for work, I try to only be gone for two nights, because, again, having two middle schoolers with homework and projects and activities and friend troubles and other things, I want to be here. I want to be a present parent for them. My parents were always present for me. And so, again, that's something I want to pay forward to my own children as well, and to my life partner, for that matter. So I'm also. I've also become clearer on some non negotiables that are maybe no longer up for discussion. And there are times when, you know, if there is a need with the child, I have to go and address that need. And so that's where having the flexibility that I've had through my role here with PwC has been incredibly important to allow me to have that space to attend to things that have to do with my family when needed. And it's also why it's important for me to create that space for my teams and to encourage others to do the same when their people need it. And so, again, we are relentlessly client focused here at PwC, but the people that work with us are the heartbeat of our firm. I kind of think in that way, too. When you think about your family unit and the rhythm that you create as a family, a lot of the work we're doing is resembling that, as well. So, I don't know. I could go on, Priya, but I think the family has really influenced who I am as a person. Of course it's influenced who I am as a leader and the types of things. I've had to have conversations with some of my teammates just who might be in need of a vacation or might have a loved one who's experiencing something. And it's like, we'll get through this. You go and take care of what you need to do over there, and then they reciprocate. So that's a very wonderful environment to be in, both at work and outside of work, when you have those communities that you can really call on when needed and that are there to help you when you need it, as well.

00:38:12 - Paul Sullivan
Dan, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much. We end each of these podcasts with three questions. So, are you ready?

00:38:22 - DeAnne Aussem
I don't know what they are, but yes.

00:38:25 - Paul Sullivan
All right, Priya gets the first one.

00:38:28 - Priya Krishnan
Tell us in your own words how you would define work life equation.

00:38:32 - DeAnne Aussem
Well, I'm so happy you didn't say work life balance, because that is a term I don't personally use. It's hard to keep much of anything in balance, so I always think about it as an integration, and the equation might sometimes fall more in the favor of work. You know, we work in rhythms. Our physiology works in rhythms. So finding that rhythm based on what's going on in life, what's going on in work, that you could write the equation a little bit differently depending on some of those circumstances. But I do think we need to pay very close attention. You know the saying, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others. So taking care of ourselves is a big key ingredient to that work life.

00:39:30 - Paul Sullivan
Equation, you know, and that dovetails into our second question. Deanna, kind of, you know, particularly in your position here, that, you know, the cobbler's kids have no shoes, you're thinking about well-being. You're thinking about other people's well-being when you're not at work, when you're not being a parent, when you're not being a partner. How do you unwind? How do you unwind for yourself?

00:39:49 - DeAnne Aussem
Yeah, I love that question. There's probably more I could do, but I will say I am a total hot yoga devotee. I was there before this morning, before our interview. And so between hot yoga and also working out at the gym, doing a lot of heavy weights and whatnot, I just think there's such a connection between the physical, mental, emotional stability, at least for me. And I know the data would show it's probably true for all of us. So I also love unwinding through quality time. So we do a lot of traveling, we do a lot of camping. We're always outdoors doing something. So anytime we can be in nature, experiencing something together is also. It fills my cup.

00:40:42 - Paul Sullivan
All right, DeAnne, I usually say this at the top. These answers aren't being graded, but I think you left something out, something that I know that I don't have the listeners know. Okay, your bulldog. What about your bulldog? Anybody who has a bulldog, you should always lead with that. That means you are now, you have a good sense of humor. If you have a bulldog as your pet or a veterinarian as your best.

00:41:05 - DeAnne Aussem
Friend, funny you should bring this up because said bulldog, whose name is Mac, we call him Big Mac because he just happens to have become the biggest one from the litter of his siblings, was at the vet this morning for yet another issue. So we are best friends with our vets, but of course, we have two dogs, two cats and a fish. So I think any interaction with our animals will also be incredibly renewing. He does have. None of the others are here with me in the room. So he does have an edge on his adorable nature.

00:41:46 - Priya Krishnan
And what a great arrangement that he gets to go to your friend the wet, and you get to go to hot yoga. So I get to ask the third question, which is, what empowering advice would you give to young mothers on this podcast? We have a range of listeners around, you know, excelling at their family life and at their work life.

00:42:12 - DeAnne Aussem
Hmm. So many things. But I'll try to keep it brief. First and foremost, you are not alone, and there is not one perfect way to do anything. I remember as a new mom, I got caught up in, is this right? Is that wrong? Is this good enough? And trust your instincts. I think there's something to be said for parental instincts, I guess. Find your community so you're not alone. And when you find community, you will find others who can support you and who you can support. So that's the other thing, is even when we feel like we might be struggling, there might be something we can offer to someone else by sharing that story and finding that within our community. The last thing I would say is, and this was a piece of advice that someone gave me, is don't wish time away. Enjoy all the moments, even the really tough ones, because while the days might be long, the years are short and you don't get this time back. So really prioritize it, value it, and be present for it.

00:43:24 - Paul Sullivan
DeAnne Aussem, Managing Director in charge of well-being at PWC. Thank you so much for being our guest on The Work-Life Equation podcast.

00:43:34 - DeAnne Aussem
Thank you so much for having me. It's been an absolute pleasure and thanks for creating space for this conversation through what you do.

00:43:42 - Commercial
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Priya Krishnan, Senior Vice President, Client Relations and Growth Operations
About the Author
Chief Digital and Transformation Officer
Priya Krishnan comes to Bright Horizons after founding and running India's largest childcare business. She is the winner of many awards for her work in the space, including Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Turk, FT1000 for Asia, and Red Herring Asia.
Episode 8