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The Wixii™ Project: Abby Vostad

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Abby Vostad

Name:  Abby Vostad

Location:  Sioux Falls, SD

Company:  SDN Communications

Professional Industry: Telecommunications

Job Title:  Executive Assistant

WIXII-ISM™ FROM ABBY VOSTAD: 

“At about five months pregnant, I began a career search.  Rather than peruse the help wanted ads for positions, I investigated and researched organizations in my community.  I then made a list of five companies that I wanted to work for.  I called the companies, met with executives, applied for jobs and made my skill set available to them….I was not looking for just another job; I was looking for a company that I could fit in with – one that could use my skills for the long haul.”

ABBY’S STORY:

Meet our featured Wixii™, Abby Vostad.  She is in her early 30s and mom to a 2 year-old son and a foster mom to a 7 month-old foster daughter.  She received both a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and an M.B.A. from the University of Sioux Falls.  She is currently an Executive Assistant at SDN Communications, a telecommunications firm with the biggest fiber optic network in the region.  She manages projects and the executive office, and her specific job duties include managing records, handling employee recognition, planning events, campus recruiting, etc.

Abby thrives on the energy and excitement found working with teams, planning events, and serving others; however, she also loves to get lost in a good book and enjoy the rare moments of quiet in her busy life.

ABBY’S CAREER PATH:

I have been working full-time since I was 15 years old.  I spent the first ten years of my career in the banking industry while completing my college education, holding various positions including customer relations and administration.   After earning my MBA, I decided it was time for a career change so I jumped into a Development Manager position at a local nonprofit.  I loved interacting with donors, raising money, and planning events; however, when I found out I was expecting my first child, I quickly realized that a sixty plus hour work week was not going to help me find and keep balance as a new mom and professional.

At about five months pregnant, I began a career search.  Rather than peruse the help wanted ads for positions, I investigated and researched organizations in my community.  I then made a list of five companies that I wanted to work for.  I called the companies, met with executives, applied for jobs and made my skill set available to them.  During this time, I also visited with an Executive Recruiter who had called me several years before about an opportunity.  I was not looking for just another job; I was looking for a company that I could fit in with – one that could use my skills for the long haul.

Fast forward 10 months, after spending over four months on bed rest and caring for a new baby, in one week, I was offered jobs at 4 of the 5 companies I put on my list.  Two of the companies created positions to fit my skill set – the other two offered positions with the ability to grow the positions into what I wanted them to be.  I accepted and absolutely love the position I have today with SDN Communications.  It offers everything I want in a career – the flexibility to care for my family and my faith.  The work I do is dynamic and ever changing – I get to plan events, manage projects, solve problems, and work with teams!

ABBY’S MINDSET AND WORK-LIFE MIX:

I truly believe that I am a better wife and mom because I work.  Working a full-time challenging job provides me the opportunity to have an identity in something other than being a mom.  I know that my definition of “having it all” is different than my single, childless friends and I am okay with that.  While I do attend regular social events and volunteer in my community, I also protect my time with my family.

My husband and I share responsibilities around the house and both are active with routines with our children.  To maintain balance and protect my family time, I will only schedule myself to be out of the house without my family two nights a week.  To me, this is non-negotiable.  I work hard during the day and give my all to causes I am involved in, but my family always has and always will come first.

Describe a “day in your life” from waketime to bedtime:

My husband leaves for work at 4:00 AM, so I am on my own in the mornings.  I wake up at 5:00 am to work out, get ready for the day, and check the news and Social Media.  I wake up my son at about 7:00 and after he’s dressed, we wake up our foster daughter (he loves being a part of her morning routine).  We play together before heading out the door by 7:40.  I take the kids to daycare – where I spend a few minutes with my son getting him set for the day.  I head to work by 8:00am where my days vary, but typically consist of meetings, emails, errands, and handling visitors.  I spend my lunch hour catching up with friends or running errands.  At times, I need to travel for work or work late as workload requires, but I am typically off work by 5:00pm. I head over to pick up the kids from daycare, unless my husband already has.  Dinner is usually on the table by 6:00pm or so.  We eat as a family and usually start bathtime by 7:00pm.  Either my husband cleans up the kitchen OR gives the kids their baths – division of labor.  We all sit down for a story and bedtime prayers.  The kids and my husband are usually in bed around 8:00pm or so.  Once the family is sleeping – I usually have a little “me” time where I check in with friends, watch a show, read, etc.  Before bed, I usually spend time cleaning one area of the house or doing a load of laundry – really, whatever needs to be done.  I like to be in bed by 10.  One night a week, I also host an online Bible Study for busy moms that starts at 8:30pm, and on Wednesdays, I take a Barre class from 5:30-6:30, but otherwise, this is my typical day.

What specific actions, choices, steps and/or decisions have you made (or would you like to make) to better manage your work-life mix?

Prior to having children, working long days and weekends was not a problem.  I thrived on an over-full schedule with many commitments.  My position in non-profit development required long hours and weekends to accomplish the job and associated events.  The office was short-staffed as it was so the only way to change the situation would have been for them to hire additional staff and that was not an option.

After having my son, I needed to find a new job with better flexibility.  I am blessed to be employed by a company and a boss who understands and supports my needs to balance work and life.  I also learned that I can have it “all” – I just had to redefine what “all” is for me.  It’s an ever-changing process, but I do believe that I have it all.

Please share specific tips for effectively managing your time and schedule.

Each day before leaving the office, I decide what “must-dos” are left on my to-do list.  These become my priorities for the next morning.  I strive to have all my non-negotiable tasks, both personal and professional, accomplished before noon each day.  I use Outlook for both personal and work scheduling – this allows me to know when work will interfere with home life and when home life will interfere with work.  And, I protect my family time – I limit my evenings away from my family to two per week.

At home, I have accepted that there will always be toys on my floor and laundry piles, but before bed, I usually spend time cleaning one area of the house or doing a load of laundry – really, whatever needs to be done.

Please share your favorite efficiencies and timesavers.

Spending the last few minutes of the day planning for the next day is a huge time saver and relieves stress the next morning.  I also plan for distractions and interruptions rather than letting them inconvenience me, I use them as an opportunity to problem solve and help others.

At home, my son is very independent and strong-willed so each morning, I give him a couple options to choose from as far as his outfit for the day and breakfast.  We used to spend so much time struggling because he didn’t want to wear a certain thing or eat a certain thing.  Now, he knows he picks one or the other and that’s, that.

A perfect all-purpose, natural cleaner:  vinegar, a little water, a few drops of tea tree oil and lavender.  This is non-toxic and a natural disinfectant.  It cleans everything from the bathroom to the carpet.

If you could change one thing about your work-life mix, what would it be?

Honestly, right now, I feel I have it pretty good.  Being a foster parent brings a new level of complexity to an already busy schedule, but we are finally settling into a routine with her schedule.

Is there anything you would like to share about work-life mix?

I feel like I “have it all.”  Do I always have it all together?  No, but I do have it all.  I have a job that inspires me to greatness, a fulfilling marriage, and a happy family.  I volunteer in the community, and I take care of myself.  One day, I came to the conclusion that I CAN “have it all.”  I learned to define what ALL really is and what ALL means to me.  It is so important to be flexible with the ever-changing definition of ALL.  For me, my ALL was different when I had a newborn, and it is definitely different now that I have a toddler and a baby at home…

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