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Balancing the Grind with Carey Bodenheimer, Director of External Communications at PwC

Carey Bodenheimer is the current Director of External Communications at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a former journalist who spent most of her career at CNN.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am a Communications Director at PwC US (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP). My work includes sharing our expertise on subjects like the future of work, AI, and across economic sectors, and connecting the firm leaders with relevant reporters.

Prior to my work in communications, I was a journalist. For over two decades I was lucky to witness history up close and in person. I spent most of my career at CNN — covering everything from politics to natural disasters, wars and peace summits.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Typically, my day begins early, because I live in California a lot of my coworkers are on the East Coast. That means I am logged in and in my chair around 7am.

Generally speaking, I have a calendar full of meetings with partners and stakeholders, strategy sessions with my team, as well as interviews with journalists from around the globe.

I make a concerted effort to separate ‘manager time’ from ‘maker time’ most days. That allows me to set aside time for creative thinking, problem solving, writing and occasionally, contemplation.

All that said, busy mornings can often mean I get some leeway in the afternoons when things quiet down.

A recent day started at sunrise to facilitate a call with a journalist in the UK and one of our supply chain experts.

After a full day of meetings, my work day ended after 6p in California with a truly inspiring conversation among my colleagues about the systemic racial bias in the US and what actions we, as individuals and as a firm, can take to make a difference.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

PwC is in the vanguard when it comes to both remote working and flexible scheduling. It was a way of life for our firm pre-pandemic and was a great selling point in terms of finding where I wanted to work.

It took a little while to iron out how to work from home, to get into a productive head space and routine but once I did, it felt incredible. To regain the time spent commuting, the energy of determining what is business attire on any given day, packing lunch, you name it — allows me to work more productively.

Being on the West Coast is a double-edged-sword. My mornings are mostly early and jam packed; however, my afternoons have some flexibility. I can usually grab my workout (yoga, swimming, hiking) while the sun is still up.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance is such a freighted term. It can be everything from a corporate virtue signal to an unattainable ideal.

Personally, it mostly means making several small decisions each day that contribute to my overall quality of life. It can mean the mental refresher of taking breaks throughout the day, the challenge of trying not to eat at my desk or the mindfulness practice of not looking at my phone while I have coffee.

It can be anything that is meaningful to someone — a walk, a workout, even a cup of coffee. For me, the simple task of brewing coffee is a simple, meditative ritual.

Part of that goal, for me, means modeling good behaviour for others by encouraging a periodic ‘digital detox’, turning off my phone on a day off, as well as taking vacation or even ‘staycation’ time.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I am a committed yogi and a trained teacher however, quarantine and the closure of studios has led me to finally begin an asana practice in my own home. In a similar vein, I have been a meditation practitioner for about a decade and in this time of shelter-in-place, curfews and overall uncertainty — it feels even more essential to my well-being.

When it was clear we were headed toward a period of shelter in place in the US, I bought an acoustic guitar which has been a lovely addition to my quarantine lockdown lifestyle. Learning a new skill engages a wholly different part of my brain.

Last but certainly not least, I have been working on going to bed an hour earlier to give myself an extra hour of rest — that is something I hope to make a permanent part of my routine.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

As a former journalist, I read voraciously in hopes of understanding what is happening in the world. I specifically listen to podcasts in order to get smarter about stuff.

Sadly, now that I am not commuting and traveling as much, I listen to fewer podcasts than before the pandemic. That said, I really enjoy Black on the Air by Larry Wilmore, The Ezra Klein Show, and Recode Decode.

A favorite newsletter is the great new one from Josh Sternberg called The Media Nut.

In terms of books, I am currently re-reading my two favorites: James Baldwin and Joan Didion, who wrote in a different but equally tumultuous era.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I am not a big gadget geek however, I can’t imagine how I remained sane prior to owning a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

Additionally, I am so grateful for the many apps that allow me to connect with my family and friends from all over the world.

PwC has generously given all of their people free access to a sleep and meditation app and, while I already have a daily meditation practice, it is really nice to have the convenience of an app I can turn to in a pinch or if I am feeling sleepless or just stuck.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

There are a lot of folks of great privilege and wealth who write about work-life balance. So, I think it is important to hear from people of divergent backgrounds, as opposed to those who have high profiles, support staff, and home gyms.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Work-life balance is often presented as an unattainable ideal. Perhaps we should try to reframe the discussion around it. What if balance isn’t an end in and of itself? Maybe we can think of it as a practice, an ongoing process during which we stumble and regain balance over and over again.

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This conversation is brought to you by The Well-Suited Group, providing premium executive support services to high level executives, who also recognise the value of work-life balance.

About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.