CMonroeIf you follow EphBlog’s annual advice to “Fall in Love” over Winter Study and ultimately marry an Eph (or even if you don’t), you’re likely to someday face the challenge of balancing your career with that of your spouse.

That’s especially true if, like Courteney Freedman Monroe ’90, you marry into the Marine Corps. In a recent profile in the Hollywood Reporter, Monroe, shared her experience “surviving ‘career suicide'” when it became time to let her spouse’s professional opportunities force a move:

He was ready for a different professional challenge, and he was interested in raising our kids outside of New York. There was a job opportunity in particular [an intelligence officer at the Department of Defense] that he wanted to pursue and, well, I went along with it. He’d moved to New York for me, and it was his turn professionally to drive the decisions in the family. But honestly, I don’t think at that moment I ever thought it was really going to happen. And then things start to progress…

I commuted back and forth [from Washington, DC] for a little less than two years. They would’ve allowed me to continue doing it, but I just felt like I wasn’t doing anything well enough. Being a full-time working mom is hard enough under the best of circumstances, but when that full-time job is actually in a different city than the one in which you live, it adds a complicating layer…

I began to realize as important as my job was to me, and as much of a huge part of my identity it was, family came first. So I made the decision to step away.

Monroe is now the CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, but when she left HBO, her path forward was far from clear:

At that point, I had not had one exploratory conversation in D.C. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for a living. And I was sure I was never going to be able to replicate that experience that I had worked so hard for or for so long. Now that I’ve gotten this opportunity to run the networks at National Geographic, I know that’s not true. But even for the first two and a half years when I was running marketing here, I never regretted my choice because every night I was going home to have dinner with my family, and that’s what it was about.

Those who have heard Monroe speak about her business career will find it unsurprising that she was able to take the long view of her career. She likes to tell the story of her first summer job, which was as a sales clerk at Laura Ashley. There, even entry-level staff were required to wear the brand’s (expensive) clothing. Even with an employee discount, her clothing cost her more that summer than she was paid for working.

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