Saturday, May 23, 2015

How to have a life, if you're the boss

So how does a person in charge of 8,000 employees in more than a dozen countries, stretching over 5,000 miles on two continents develop a work life balance? "It's a work in process," says Donald Lewis, chief executive of SCA Americas.

How to have a life, if you're the boss

How does a person in charge of 8,000 employees in more than a dozen countries, stretching over 5,000 miles on two continents develop a work life balance?
How does a person in charge of 8,000 employees in more than a dozen countries, stretching over 5,000 miles on two continents develop a work life balance? iStockphoto

So how does a person in charge of 8,000 employees in more than a dozen countries, stretching over 5,000 miles on two continents develop a work life balance? "It's a work in process," says Donald Lewis, chief executive of SCA Americas.

SCA Americas is the U.S. division of a Swedish company that sells napkins, diapers, tampons and other paper products worldwide. Its headquarters are in Philadelphia.

Over the past couple months, Lewis has been trying to organize his time into six blocks, based on six priorities that he has set for his business. One, for example, is talent management. Another is organizational efficiency. A third is growth, which includes the pursuit of acquisitions. "If it's not making one of those boxes,  I probably shouldn't be doing it, or I should delegate it."

He also asked his direct reports to look at their activities from that point of view. "I found that you can be working day and night and weekends and have no free time at all," Lewis said during our Leadership Agenda interview, published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. Lewis actually consults with a company behaviorist, the same one available to other SCA employees, for help on this topic. 

More coverage
 
What scares CEOs
 
Drexel president on leadership: Try it, see if you like it

One counter-intuitive factor working in his favor is that he is a commuting CEO. His home is in Canfield, Ohio, but he lives during the week in Center City, within walking distance of his office at the Cira Center.

"That’s one of the things with commuting that works to my favor, because I can work to late at night" during the week, he said. "But on weekends, I very seldom work. I can really devote all my time to my wife and family when I’m home."

In the summer, he cuts the grass to unwind. He usually does that first thing, almost before saying hello to his family.  "It’s a good way for me to decompress," he said. "So I had a particularly tough week and I get on the riding mower. We have about 2 acres, so it takes about an hour and three-quarter or whatever. As I’m pulling into the garage, I went to disengage the blade and I heard it start, which meant that the whole time, I was just making wheel marks across the whole lawn."

Click here to read Monday's blog post: What scares CEO, according to Don Lewis.

Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
Topics: