The Tale of Two Julies – A Story of Successful Job Sharing

Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . .

This month we are putting a spotlight on Julie Levine. She and her colleague at work, Julie Rocco, have successfully job shared a management position at Ford Motor Company for more than 5 years. Read on to learn about these pioneering, or click the SoundCloud icon at the end to listen to them share their inspiring story.

Julie Levine’s Story

Job sharing a program manager position with Julie Rocco, Julie Levine soon discovered how “fully integrated” they had become – sometimes even asking the same questions at the exact same time.  In fact, the trust that has built up over the years leaves both parties with complete faith they will be well represented by the other during their absence. It has also provided the ease of mind the “two Julies” needed to be able to spend time with their families.

This collaborative partnership, Julie jokes, has almost been like a “marriage” at work. She also underscores how it did not come about by just placing two people in a job share arrangement. There were numerous factors that played into its success, the most critical being the selection of the right people to create the job share. Julie talks about how she and Rocco went on a “blind date” to figure out whether or not they would be compatible. During this “date” they both took time to assess whether they shared a similar sense of responsibility for getting the work done as well as attention to detail, energy levels and integrity.

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After finding each other, the next critical step was pitching the business case for moving ahead. They needed to show the company that “the sum of two Julies…” was really better than “…two Julies alone.” Julie describes how both of them having strong reputations within the organization helped make their case. But they also began to quickly see how their job sharing arrangement brought many advantages to their organization.

For example, having the network and experience of two people on any one task or problem offered a significant benefit to their employer; playing into the old cliché – two heads are better than one. Julie also talks about how refreshed she would be from her time away from work. Even vacations played out differently. When one of them took a vacation, the other was still available to work at half time, so projects were able to continue to move forward. At one point, they were even able to turn a maternity leave into an opportunity to have a junior employ gain exposure to a higher level position. The employee was even promoted after the leave was up!

While the benefits to the company were plentiful, the advantages to Julie and her family were immeasurable. Julie cites many tangible things such as being able to volunteer at her children’s school as well as have time for exercise and other activities. She also talks about some of the more intangible benefits such as having her children grow up in an environment where they see that Mommy’s career is just as important as Daddy’s; and that balancing work and family is possible.

Julie concluded with advice on what she learned through the years to be key attributes to her job sharing success:

· Being seamless: never having to ‘burden’ your fellow employees (i.e. by having them repeat information twice). It doesn’t matter which person you talk to, both would always be up-to-date on any and all matters.

· Being completely consistent: making sure that directions, and answers to questions, are handled in a similar manner.

· Being fully committed: committing to the necessary time and effort to ensure their success, such as the update process they use four times a week to be bring each other up to speed on what happened that day.

· Sharing the entire job – not just splitting tasks: This is critical for both being seamless and consistent, as both parties are then aware of everything relevant to their job.

Julie’s story is another great example of how we can “redesign leadership” in a way where everyone benefits – the leader, the leader’s family as well as the organization. To listen to more of Julie Levine’s story, click the SoundCloud link below.

Laura’s Story

Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that makes up the ThirdPath community . . .

This month we are putting a spotlight on Laura, a mom, a wife and also a highly successful leader in a public accounting firm. Laura is an example of what we believe the next generation of leaders will look like.

Laura’s Story

Laura is a partner in a large public accounting firm recently promoted to head the audit practice. Work is important to her and drives her. But like many other professionals she also has an unwavering commitment to family.  Because of this commitment to succeed at work and have time and energy for her life outside of work, Laura is an excellent example of a Whole Life Leader.

Laura first gained clarity around how to integrate work and life long before children.
Early in Laura’s career her mother became very ill and eventually passed away. Over the years her mother was struggling with this illness, Laura prioritized making time to be with her mother, often spending the night at the hospital.

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While all of this was happening Laura was also newly married. It was a difficult time, here was her father, a man who had worked “3 jobs to keep the house running”, now watching his wife die before they could enjoy their retirement together. Witnessing this made Laura determined to create an integrated approach to work and life.

What Laura didn’t know is that the skills she was using to spend time with her mother, while also managing her workload, were the same skills she used many years later when she and her husband Jim crafted their solution for integrating work and the care of their children.  Laura had always been a person to think in advance around how she wanted to arrange work and family, and she married someone who was happy to support these plans.

Both Laura and Jim wanted to be a significant presence in their children’s lives. They also wanted to continue in their successful careers.
To do this, they both made changes at work and they also hired a nanny for three days each week: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 – 6:30. Laura manages the morning routine and either she or Jim is home by 6/6:15. Jim is often the one that does the afternoon routine because his commuting schedule means that leaving early both from home and work makes the commute significantly more manageable.

On Tuesdays, Jim works from home and Laura often spends the mornings with the children and then goes into the office in the afternoon.  Fridays, both Laura and Jim work from home.  On this day they tradeoff taking care of the children and spend the rest of the day working from a home office.  On busier work weeks they also use the evenings after the children are in bed to get extra work done.

Given this arrangement Laura notices that when she is at work, she is 100% focused on work.  In fact, she tries to squeeze productivity out of every moment. Laura also believes that it’s important for children to see their parents around the dinner table and at bedtime, even if that means leaving several hours of work to pick up at a future time in order to make this happen.

Accounting work is also very seasonal. During busy seasons, Laura still ensures that family time happens. She may work evenings and weekends and Jim will increase the amount he does at home. Sometimes it even requires Laura needing to let go of family activities she likes to take responsibility for. However, over the years Jim has really helped her see they’ve created a true partnership and that both of them are more than capable of managing the home front.

It may seem like Laura and Jim have jobs that are easy to flex.  But in fact, this set up required both to negotiate a work/family schedule with their employers. 
Not only is Laura a partner, Jim is a senior VP of Strategy at a large commercial bank; not roles one would typically assume allow flexibility. Laura’s early experiences helped her learn about the value of setting boundaries.  She noted there is often a, “fork in the road, and you have to choose – I’m going to let work run me, or I’m going to set boundaries and control my life.”  Laura has also been recognized at her workplace, not just for the excellent contribution she’s made in the work she does, but also for being a role model in her ability to balance work and life.

Laura has always been ambitious. She has also always had clear work and life goals.  But early on Laura learned a lesson she will never forget:  “you aren’t going to get any more chances at life.”

Our Mission

Assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work to create time for family, community and other life priorities. Develop a growing community of individuals, leaders and organizations to influence wider change - both within organizations and at the public policy level. Support a new mind-set where everyone can follow a "third path" - an integrated approach to work and life.

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