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How many hours do you work a week?

It seems nowadays the 40 hr work week is dead.  What hours are working these days and what is your title?  Should all finance/accounting professional except to work 50+ hr weeks and the occassional weekend once they hit management level?  How do you deal with the demands of work/life working this much?


(CEO) |

You work for a company that allows you to work from home 3 days a week. Why would a CEO need you in the office every day? Leadership is about empowering mid-management to make decisions and only elevate SERIOUS problems to exec’s. The current style of leadership with 80 hour weeks and micro management will literally kill you in the end. It really doesn’t have to be that way and it troubles me to see exec’s being pressured into putting their work before family, that’s not healthy for the company or the family, your kids are only this age once, enjoy it. Sounds easy.

Robert Breedlove
Title: CFO
Company: Xpert Exposition Services
(CFO, Xpert Exposition Services) |

Depends on your definition of "work". I am almost constantly reading literature related to business, talking with other executives and/or board members or fielding emails remotely. The professional/personal life line becomes less discernible as the ubiquity of mobile communication and information rises.

Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

60 minimum. Frequently more hours, rarely less. Have worked that pace since I entered the business world. Most of my peers that I know seem to do the same. I love what I do (luckily), but I would be able to live well with fewer hours. Just don't know how that's possible if you want to continually be moving yourself and your company forward.

(Controller) |

It's that 60 hour+ mentality that pulls everyone that wants to along. CEOs, CFOs just think of people as machines that should always be more productive. Unfortunately, we're not machines and don't have unlimited capacity. Also, my observation over the last 30+ years is that most C group execs spend lots of hours but are really only productive about 25% of the time. The rest is spent pondering the world from 50,000 feet with no concept of reality. Then they wonder why we're not "engaged". My advice, take the time with the family, forget endless job progress, get a life. I got pulled along and regret every minute of it. (BTW, if you're a CFO and "love" what you do, remember that you basically do nothing.)

Matthew Mandell
Title: Controller
Company: California Trucking Association
(Controller, California Trucking Association) |

Refreshing take on the job environment....except the part about being a comment on that. But you are right about the rest. Life is not for work only. What do people work for if their life is non-existent?

Myrna Newman
Title: CFO
Company: The Professional Diversity Network
(CFO, The Professional Diversity Network) |

If you love what you do, it doesn't matter how many hours you work. The importanat thing is that you are happy. Work is life, make the most of your time with family and friends when you have it. Face it, 60 hours is the normal work week for any accounting or finance individual that has ever made it into management.

Jeffrey H Sakamoto
Title: CFO
Company: Not Disclosed
(CFO, Not Disclosed) |

A bit off-topic, but I feel that it's worth sharing with you:

I got to the CFO chair several years ago and since then my view on this matter of work/life has evolved to this point: I believe that the most important "Company" is the company that each team member has across his/her table at night. That is the motivating force behind great work. If I deny my team mates the ability to negotiate an appropriate work/life balance, I sentence myself to a spiral of turnover that ultimately depletes my company of experience and "tribal knowledge." Does that mean that everyone on my team agrees with me? Hardly. Like everyone else, I have objectives that must be achieved. I strive to actively manage the balance and achieve the goals of our department/company.

As individuals, we as good at our roles as our confidence will allow. My confidence comes from years of working to accumulate technical knowledge, business savvy and amateur sociological skills. Good leadership (I obviously consider myself a proponent of that) will yield results and there are no "one size fits all" rules other than to develop judgment appropriate to the circumstances in front of me. Along the way I've made my share of mistakes, but I try to stay away from self-serving rationalization and use trusted advisers to help me keep an objective eye on my professional practices. These advisers are professionally blunt with me which is what I need to continue to grow.

I will acknowledge the Anonymous comment that there are times that we (Chief 'Frustration' Officers) are the generalists in the finance/accounting team. I depend on my team mates to carry out my role and I risk being a poor executive when I lose focus on the issues that allow us to be successful and generate value for our company. For what it's worth, there are many variations on the CFO approach to productivity and I, for one, feel that I do have the bandwidth to reach down to details as well as reach up to investor groups. I do NOT minimize my team mates role in the successful achievement of a goal and rely heavily on them to perform my role. They are highly valued advisers to me.

Finally, for those who are dissatisfied with the way that their CFO executes his/her job, I suggest you make a commitment to formulate how you will approach that issue when you are in the "big chair" and begin to practice the leadership style that you wish to foster in your career. There's no better time to start that process than today.

Brian Hawn
Title: Marketing Communicator
Company: RAI Stone Group
(Marketing Communicator, RAI Stone Group) |

This might be the single greatest reply I have ever read. Kudos, sir.

(Principal) |

Trying to get a work life balance is always hard. Sometimes work needs to come first sometimes family. But the most important is yourself. Everyone will pull from you if you let them so at times you need to say no. If you have a great team then all will work hard when needed. But remember not everyone can work hard all the time and we need to help each other out. By helping each other the end goal will be reached. Coin phrases like we need to "work smarter, not harder" are easy to say but have little meaning to the staff person struggling.

Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

I know I am probably going to upset some people with this comment, but I believe if it takes a person 50 to 60 hours a week (every week) to get their work done, then they are doing something wrong. Either they are unable to delegate, or work 60 hours so they can try to impress other people about how much they work. I used to be like that and I am sorry that someone didn't slap me when I was younger and tell me how misguided that was. That company you are working for doesn't give a "bleep" about you. All it will take is a change in ownership to show you just how expendable you are. And when they are walking you out the door, they won't say anything about how many hours you worked.

The only thing you will have at the end of your working career working 60 hours per week, is the opportunity for the cleaning crew to find your lifeless body at your desk. As the old saying goes, no one has ever had written on their tomb stone "I wish I had worked more at the office."

Invariably, the people I know who work long hours have issues with spouses and children feeling abandoned, and the people that work for for them identify them as workaholics. I can guarantee you, no family or staff admires you because of the long hours you work.

You only get one shot at having a happy family and home life. Don't sacrafice it.

Kathy Kranz
Title: CFO
Company: Pinnacol Assurance
(CFO, Pinnacol Assurance) |

I agree with this completely! I've been in the finance/accounting world almost 20 years and have worked very successfully in public accounting, consulting, for a public company and now a private company. In all 4 jobs, I have been able to balance my job to average less than 50 hours a week. There are always projects or busy seasons where things might hit 60 hours for a few weeks, but when things slow down a little I can get out the door after 40 hours. The keys are delegation and prioritization. Its always about (or should be about) getting the important work done, not the amount of time you spend on it. You can excel without putting in 60 hours every week. Spend your time on the right things and you will get noticed and rewarded.

I do recognize that not every work environment will support this, but you should be able to find those that do!

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

Depends on what counts as work...about 50 hours plus 15 commuting hours and various additional professional time. Maximim " desk time" is ineffective and counter productive over time due to cumulative fatigue.

Topic Expert
Stephen Roulac
Title: CEO
Company: Roulac Global LLC
(CEO, Roulac Global LLC) |

Save for the most routine, standardized work, much of what is most important to making difference, especially in C level roles, involves information/experiences/interactions that are multiple meanings: definitions/conceptual boundaries/physical places... to traditional concepts of work, to the company per se, and, increasingly, to the industry in which the company operates. The time on a long walk or visiting an art gallery or strolling through an engaging urban place, may be the most productive...just as are insights from watching, reading about, and reflecting on a spirited sporting event.

The individual spending less than 50 hours 'in the office' while engaging in what is described above may be contributing much more effective/productive/valuable 'work' than her counterpart spending 60+ hours in the office. Is attending the obligatory charity event for key customer's cause work? Is reading books that lead to insights work? Is engaging in social networks, such as Proformative, work? Is pursuing a practice...exercise, spiritual,

Personally, I do more of what is traditionally not perceived as work and less of what is, which contributes to greater effectiveness/impact/productivity than the old school view of work. Ultimately, if you love what you do, you will be drawn to invest much resources in that calling...and not be burdened in doing so. And, if you do not enjoy your 'work,' the minimum acceptable amount of time will be too much time.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Way too many :)

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

I think the best answer to this is: delegate, delegate and some more delegation! When that is done you have a fairly normal work week in terms of hours. I can now easily get things done in less than 40 hours and even though I enjoy working there is no need to be in the office just to sit there. Having said that I am checking mails from 630 am to 10 pm so in other terms I am always working.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

I think the 60 hour work week is pretty accurate. If anyone really wants to make it as a successful financial professional, there will always be an element of extreme hours. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. Work/life balance can still be maintained, but it has to be spent directly with family members rather than in separate rooms in the house.

(Partner) |

I think if you concentrate on the hours, you are missing the point.....instead, you should look at what you are getting done. Are you meeting your objectives?

If you work tons of hours, it can be a symptom of things that are not going well - could be a sign that you are understaffed (or have someone not working out), have broken processes that cause a lot of extra work, have executives that change their minds often, etc. Better to address those root causes than to work more hours.

I also think that you get more productive when you work less - think about it. If you had to leave the office everyday at 6pm, what would you not do anymore? It really makes you think and prioritize ruthlessly. Also, time away from the office, let's you think about more strategic things and gives you a break from the grind to see the forest from the trees.

Quite frankly, if you get your most important objectives met, you should reward yourself with time with family, friends, hobbies; your long-term mental health will be better!


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