Updated: Mar 19, 2020
We're on month two of the "Real Mom" series, and today I’m eager to introduce you to Alison. I met Alison about eight years ago when we moved to a new neighborhood. Our sons were around the same age and I enjoyed chatting with her while the boys played.
Alison and her husband of 18 years, Neil, live in Anchorage with their two sons Grant, ten, and Gavin, seven. I chose Alison as one of our first Real Mom profiles because I love the way she balances her career, family, and charity work.
A neonatal nurse by trade, Alison is currently a pharmaceutical sales rep for a biotech company. “I’m a nurse by trade, but now I sell drugs,” she laughed as she talked about her own personal inspiration for taking on this role, her friend Leslie.
“I was looking for a way to have better work/life balance and Leslie said she had a job opening that would be perfect for me,” Alison said.
She wasn’t sure about sales, but the flexibility it has given her to enjoy life with her boys has been worth it. As a nurse, long shifts made it hard to be involved at a level that made Alison happy; she was thankful she had the option to choose family over that particular career path at that time.
“I’m blessed that I have work/life flexibility in my role and I don’t have to check in and out at a certain time; our company encourages that. The women in leadership are very focused on making employees happy so people want to stay,” she said
Part of Alison’s unique balance is also making time to give back to the community, and encourage other moms to do the same. She is currently serving as president of the Younger Women’s Club (YWC), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting local organizations through a strategic grantmaking program. When Alison initially engaged with the #YWCLouisville, she was just looking for a place to connect with other women who were in a common life stage, but now she sees the organization as so much more - a way to fill a gap for women - both personally and professionally. The nearly 100-year-old organization allows women to engage at different levels depending on their season of life.
"As president, it’s my job to engage new members and help current members re-engage. As an organization you have to evolve and let women do what works for their life,” she said.
Alison sees delegation as a strength of hers as she encourages women around her to create success and grow the organization along with her. But her strength of delegation has really developed from recognizing her weakness - an inability to say “no” to all the things.
Since this is something many women struggle with on a regular basis, I was interested to hear how Alison is tackling this.
Sometimes it’s realizing I’m not getting it done, so someone else is going to do a much better job at it than I am, and actually make it happen. I have to realize when I am at max capacity and give others the opportunity to step up.
Alison talked a lot about the key women in her life that encourage her on her path of motherhood and career, so I was curious how she felt women were doing overall in this space of encourager.
I try to stay surrounded by women who are encouraging, and if they’re not, I disengage. A lot of women want to compete instead of just enjoying the space they’re in. They don’t realize they would feel better if they just stopped competing.
Fortunately, she has a strong base of both personal and professional relationships to encourage her, so when she needs to lean out of a negative environment, she can lean in to her safe spaces, like Neil, her husband.
In relationships, there is definitely a balancing act and Alison and Neil have learned that communication is a valuable tool to keep family first while juggling full-time careers.
Neil recognizes that my career is important too, but I had to get better about communicating what I needed. I had to ask for it and create that expectation.
And she raised a great point about the roles of men and women in the workplace. When husbands make regular things a priority, like picking the kids up from school, they level the playing field for women just a bit. The simple action helps to demolish perceived gender roles and companies start to see parenting as an equal responsibility in the workplace.
Before we wrapped up our time together we had to talk a little bit about personal time. With a shaky balance between wife, mom, and career, what does Alison enjoy in her precious free time?
Well, she’s speaking my language with exercise as her tool of choice to stay focused, energized, and well, sane! She credits a good friend, Jennifer, with helping her get on a solid
nutrition and exercise plan that completely transformed the way she looks and feels.
Because the overarching point of the Let’s Get Real blog is encouragement, we couldn’t wrap up our meeting without getting a little advice from Alison for the young moms trying to do it all.
Moms have to recognize that you don’t have to do all the things, but you do have to rely on other people in your life. If you keep your children alive and they feel loved, you’re super mom!
Photo Credit: PaintingwithSunshine