Interview with Emily Rollins ’92
Emily Rollins graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1992, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics-Accounting and International Relations. Mrs. Rollins is currently a Partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP and leads Deloitte Seattle’s Diversity and Women’s Initiatives. In 2010, Mrs. Rollins was appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire to the Washington State Board of Accountancy and now serves as Chair. She also serves on the boards of the King County Library System Foundation, Ascend’s Seattle chapter, and now the Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children. In the following interview, Mrs. Rollins explains her interest in the Berger Institute, her personal experience with work-family-children issues, and her advice for current CMC students.
What work-family issues are you primarily concerned with?
I have been involved in our women’s initiative at Deloitte basically since I started working for the firm in 1992. Over the last seven or eight years, I have been the leader in our office for our women’s initiative and helped out at the regional and national levels. The biggest struggle I still observe is women who currently do not have children envisioning themselves succeeding in their careers once they do have children.
What personal experience do you have in raising a family and working?
I actually have four kids, ages 13, 14, 15, and 16. When I think about the question of balancing work and family, I come back to three main aspects that led to, I think, my success.
The first is flexible and part-time work arrangements and “sabbatical.” I actually had a lot of support from leaders on my engagement team, both the Partners and Senior Managers, to take advantage of part-time and flexible work arrangements. From when I was a Senior all the way up until I was a Senior Manager, I worked either part-time or flexible. I ended up being part-time for 7 years. I also took advantage of a year-long sabbatical when I was pregnant with my third child.
The second is family help. I had tremendous support from my mom when the kids were young. As they became school age, in order to continue to be flexible with my career as well as provide the kids with a lifelong passion for learning, my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids. It’s been over 10 years since my husband left his career. Our oldest is now in college and doing quite well. The other three are also on an accelerated path.
The third is living in a manageable locale and leveraging resources. While my family and I were willing and able to move to advance my career, we have been fortunate that it has not yet been necessary. By living where we do (Newcastle, WA, just outside of Seattle), we have been able to leverage a local public school homeschool program, our wonderful local libraries, and many sports and family-oriented programs. Given my firm’s strong business base in Seattle, I have not had to regularly travel out of town.
How did you and your husband decide on your current arrangement?
There actually was a time when I left Deloitte to honor my husband’s request for me to be a stay-at-home mom. I did not leave the firm with any ill-will and was only gone for one year (having my fourth child during that “break). When my husband and I were reconsidering his career path and passions, we both came to the conclusion that my going back to Deloitte, even part-time, would benefit the family the most.
What do you hope to accomplish as an Advisory Board member at the Berger Institute?
It seems like the mission is pretty broad, so I am first just going to be in a listening and learning mode to see what the Institute has accomplished thus far and what areas it would like to tackle next. I have a host of resources through my leadership experience in the women’s initiative at the firm, so I could offer my perspective on certain issues. And just personally, I have a passion for wanting to see women succeed in the workplace and be happy with their situation at home.
What advice can you give to future CMC graduates on balancing life and work?
Someone once told me that your career is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So your commitments at work are important, but the period in which you accomplish things doesn’t need to be at an accelerated level. Be willing to try different arrangements, regularly assess the short-term and long-term impacts to your family, give yourself some grace for things not always being perfect, and pick yourself back up if you make some mistakes. Your contribution to the workplace is not only benefitting your family financially, it’s helping to provide future generations the building blocks for future success.