CEO Quits After Daughter Hands Him List Of Missed Milestones

26/09/2014 10:58 | Updated 20 May 2015

Former PIMCO Mohamed El-Erian

A workaholic CEO dad handed in his notice after his 10-year-old daughter presented him with a list of milestones in her life that he had missed due to his work commitments.

Mohamed El-Erian ran global investment firm PIMCO for six years, regularly clocking up 15 hour days. He now works in the less-demanding role of Chief Economic Adviser to PIMCO's parent company, insurer Allianz.

Egyptian-American El-Erian, who was educated at Oxford and Cambridge, recalled the moment he realised how his role as an absentee parent was damaging his daughter in a self-penned column for Worth magazine.

"About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something - brush her teeth, I think it was - with no success," the 56-year-old wrote. "I reminded her that it was not so long ago that she would have immediately responded, and I wouldn't have had to ask her multiple times; she would have known from my tone of voice that I was serious."

"She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments."

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There were 22 items on the list, ranging from parents' evening to a Halloween parade to the first day of school.

"I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event!" El-Erian recounted.

"But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it - as I had rationalized it - my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter."

El-Erian shared the story behind his decision to leave PIMCO in January this year amid rumours that the resignation was the result of clashes with the company's founder, Bill Gross.

In his article, he stressed that personal motivations lay behind his decision and said that his work-life balance was now far healthier, allowing him to bond with his daughter.

"I now alternate with my wife in waking up our daughter every morning, preparing her breakfast and driving her to school. I'm also around much more often to pick her up after school and take her to activities.

"She and I are doing a lot of wonderful talking and sharing. We've even planned a holiday together, just the two of us."

But El-Erian was quick to acknowledge his rare privilege: "I'm the first to recognize that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to structure my life in this way," he said, calling for a culture shift to address the issue of work-life imbalance for parents at every level of the working world.

"Hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what's important to them."


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