Business man and family man

British-born Ed Young has forged a remarkable career, first as a journalist in China and, more recently, as a corporate strategist and influential business leader for National Grid in the US. However, Ed’s most important title is ‘Dad’. Here he discusses the importance of being there for his children and why it’s important to savour the precious moments in life.

Both my wife and I have demanding jobs – I’m chief of staff for National Grid in the US and my wife is a professor working in developing countries. While professional success is really important to me, I’m always trying to balance that with being a good dad.

Being a professional and being a parent is hard. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s something that women in the workforce have had to juggle for decades – and it’s important for everyone to see more and more men taking responsibility for it too.

We have a son aged 12 and a daughter who is 8. I try to be extremely efficient at work so I can prioritise family time.

A typical day starts at 6am when I check email and try to exercise, often outside –sun, rain or snow – with a trainer who comes to my house. It’s an indulgence, but it’s so good for my spirit to be outside and helps me meet the challenges of the day.

Afterwards, it’s a rush to make the kids’ lunches, get them up, give them breakfast, and get them off to school. It’s kind of hectic!

While it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, there are  moments of professional success and personal joy that are really important to cherish.

I try to get to work early as there’s always masses to do. I’ll work at the office until about four o’clock, then pick up the kids or take them to an activity. Some days I’m able to stay later at the office, trading off days with my wife. Then it’s dinner, bedtime for the kids, more work … and bed.

While it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, there are moments of professional success and personal joy that are really important to cherish.

Working for a company and having a boss that explicitly supports people’s family responsibilities, is really important. That flexibility allows me to be there for my children at the times that work for them. My boss never makes me feel guilty – he knows I’ll get the work done and his trust makes me more motivated to make sure I do.

Trying to juggle work and family is always a trade-off. You’re making tough decisions everyday about what’s right for you, your family and your job, so you need to be brave. I try to own my decisions and remind myself that I’m being the best parent I can – and the best employee I can.

I really believe that putting the effort into having a strong family life makes me more productive in my job. It helps me to be focused on a role I love, where I’m helping to build a business I believe in.

Recently my daughter was listening to a song. She paused it to tell me to listen to one of the lyrics; ‘forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart, and I will love you’. She said the lyrics reminded her of our family and how other people can make your life better. Sometimes it’s those small moments that reassure you you’re on the right path.