«Hey, Mom» Interview with Sarah Ramuz

May we introduce?

Sarah Ramuz is Head of Private Banking, Central Region at Bank Cler. Sarah and her husband live in Zumikon with their two daughters.

To be honest, is there a balance between family and career?

Yes, a very individual balance that everyone defines for themselves. I have to be clear in my own mind what I really want to combine in order to lead a balanced life. Depending on the phase of life, needs can also change. Then it is necessary to adapt the model that worked for the last few months.

What are the biggest challenges for you in everyday life?

For me, it’s the circumstances that are unpredictable and throw planning out of whack. It could be the flu or a train cancellation. However, flexibility is something children teach us from day one and that in turn helps me to stay calm in such situations. The planned route is rarely the only one.

How much do you work and what is your ideal workload?

When the children were very young, I worked three days a week. In the meantime, our daughters are eight and ten years old, so I can work 95 per cent of the time. In concrete terms, this means that although I have a normal 42-hour week, I can take twelve additional days of holiday per year. This model works very well for me. But we had to decide and try it out as a family.

What is your teamwork like: who takes care of what? Is there a balance between you and your husband?

My husband had 4 weeks of paternity leave. During that time I almost didn’t change a single diaper, he bounced with her on the yoga ball for hours when she had tummy aches, and I was able to sleep in in the morning. But time went by in a flash, and suddenly I was practically solely responsible for her during the day. My husband often worked from home and did what he could, but he has a demanding job in a startup and often works late. In the beginning, I felt overwhelmed, especially by the household. Since I was at home, I felt like I was now also responsible for the dog, laundry, cleaning and every administrative task. I never had time for myself and had to learn to let go – who cares if the laundry hangs on the clothes rack for a week? Now I have a babysitter two or three evenings a week, so I can get out of the house even if my husband still has calls. We also have a cleaning lady once a week. Now that I’m back at work, the teamwork looks a little different again: So my husband takes care of the little one for half a day a week and I go to the office. When I go back to work 100% we will have to adjust the rhythm again so that it is right for everyone. Communication is the most important thing here.

What would you like to pass on to your girls in the long term when it comes to their professional development?

I want them to take responsibility for their own happiness and make courageous decisions. This is important to me for both their professional and private development.

How do you manage to switch off in between?

The quickest way is to do an activity with the children or to go for a walk in the forest with our dog.

In retrospect, what professional advice would you give to other mothers with young children who also aspire to a leadership position or who already have one when their children are born (career tips)?

I would advise them to talk openly about their wishes and needs. I would also advise them to accept help offered by others – and to do so without a guilty conscience. There will also be phases in life when you can offer help yourself. What can be planned, should be planned. Nevertheless, you should also accept chaotic moments.

What do you think employers can do to support families in balancing work and family life?

Basically, as an employer, it is about understanding the needs of the employees. Where compatibility combines with the company’s objectives, models should be offered that address the needs. The possibility of home office, flexible working time models or the option to take unpaid leave are examples that help a lot with creating a balance. The offer increases the attractiveness of employers and experience shows that it has a very positive effect on productivity.

What do you do as a manager to support your team with work-life balance?

I have a highly motivated team and I have complete confidence in all of them. Most of them are fathers, mothers or grandfathers and work part-time like me. We organise our working time and place in a way that is beneficial to all parties. Value creation often happens outside of the office.

You work at a bank. It’s about money, which is hardly ever talked about in Switzerland. What do you teach your children about money?

We learn how to handle money together. They get pocket money that they can spend freely. They can spend the money, save it or do “something good” with it. They define for themselves what belongs in the third category.

What does money mean to you, also in relation to childcare?

Leaving work was never an option for me. When, as a young family, we were confronted with the effective costs of childcare, my husband and I were quite shocked. For many families in Switzerland, both parents working becomes a zero-sum game financially and mothers therefore consider taking a break from active working life. This is understandable. However, models are needed here that offer support. I am convinced that daycare centers, school lunches and holiday care for children are a great enrichment. On the other hand, it is essential for companies that talented and well-trained professionals can continue to be employed.

Awina is the partner during the rush hour of life. It supports young families with daycare financing and advocates a better work-life balance. But what does compatibility actually look like in everyday life? In the series “Hey, Mom”, “Hey, Dad”, parents talk openly about their experiences and challenges as working parents and give insight into how they personally balance child and career.