This is the fourth post in a series about Sandra Peterson, CEO of Bayer CropScience
It's still a sad commentary that today, in 2012, women are faced (much more so than men) with the issue of organizing their work life in the context of their home life. According to a study by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, nearly half of all senior executive women are childless, but only 19 percent of their male counterparts have no kids. Such tradeoffs are normal for most high-profile senior women. Sandra Peterson, Bayer CropScience CEO, also faced crucial decisions in her life.
"Anyone who ends up being a leader of a large complicated organization, whether you're a male or a female, you're working an immense amount of hours and you can't do everything. You can't have complete work/life balance. Some of the sacrifices and trade-offs clearly I made was with my first child. I was already a mother when I joined McKinsey [in 1987], which was quite unusual. I didn't even tell them I had a child because I thought they might not hire me because it just was so unusual then. My husband traveled around the world working in international education. We had au pairs, but there were times when we struggled. My son ended up having to spend time with his grandparents for three or four weeks at a time every once in a while because my husband and I couldn't figure out how one of us could be home while the other was traveling. When we decided to have a second child, we ended up having this discussion about how do we have two children and continue this life we have. It was clear that we couldn't so he made a very large personal sacrifice when he said, "I'm going to stop working; one of us needs to be home to take care of the children." I was very cognizant of the sacrifices he was making. When I was not working, when our children were little, our life was all about our kids and our relationship. We didn't spend tons of time going off and spending time with friends and going on vacations alone."
Then Sandra faced a huge personal tragedy when her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. At that point she stopped working as Group President of Medco Health Solutions to care for him. Fortunately for Bayer and for aspiring women everywhere, she was able to rejoin the workforce and continue to contribute her considerable expertise.
Sandra Peterson very clearly knows how to get ahead in the masculine world of the C-Suite without losing or denying her own femininity. Moreover, she knows that there are differences between men and women and she actively works to support women and their success.
Stay tuned on how she is shaping the future of Bayer CropScience, and in the meantime, one thing is for sure -- she truly is a person to follow!
This post first appeared on Forbes.com.