Kindness — We hear a lot about the negative things going on around us, but we need to focus on the kindness and positivity in our lives. It’s important to know that we will get through this because we will continue to have compassion and humility. I make it a point to talk about things I am grateful for, offer compliments and pay it forward when I have the chance. You often don’t realize it until you experience it first-hand but I’ve found kindness goes an incredibly long way.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Janofsky, senior vice-president and chief accounting officer responsible for Lincoln Financial Group’s consolidated financial reporting, treasury, reinsurance, investments, FP&A, finance transformation, tax, and many other areas. Her responsibilities include being a trusted partner, a financial and transformation steward, and an overseer of the preparation and analysis of Lincoln National Corporation’s financial statements to meet the needs and requirements of internal and external audiences. Christine is a wife, proud mom of 2 boys and 1 girl and they enjoy spending time going to the beach, seeing family and friends and watching movies.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Absolutely! I grew up in Baltimore, raised by my wonderful single mother. I always loved numbers and math, but my interest in accounting really began in high school when I had one of those amazing teachers who literally changes the trajectory of your life. After graduation, I put myself through college at Stevenson University where I earned Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Accounting and Business Information Systems.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
About a year and a half ago, our Chief People, Place and Brand Officer Lisa Buckingham nominated me to be a member of World50. It’s a private community for CEOs and C-level executives to come together and discover ideas, share valuable experiences and build relationships that make a lasting impact. Membership is by invitation only and I had no idea Lisa had nominated me until our Chief Talent Officer Jen Warne came in one day and told me. I was shocked and elated! I love being part of World50.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m the Executive Sponsor leading our enterprise-wide implementation of new accounting guidance for long-duration insurance contracts. This touches all aspects of our business, as well as accounting, actuarial, systems and data functions across the company. We’re focused on ensuring strategic alignment of this implementation with other enterprise initiatives, specifically our enterprise finance data transformation project. I am also the Executive Sponsor of enterprise-wide finance data and transformation projects.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I had a great mentor and leader in Lara Forsman. She was an amazing teacher who encouraged me to pursue my passion and take on every challenge that was thrown at me. She gave me opportunities and pushed me to excel. She became a great friend to me.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
Just like every other working parent out there, balancing childcare and home schooling with business has been a real challenge. You’re constantly dealing with competing priorities and differing schedules. We had varying degrees of independence of our kids based on age and them being able to complete assignments and know when to get on their classes, so that was a balancing act. Of course, kids not having sufficient opportunities to burn off energy poses its own set of challenges! I’m fortunate in that my husband, Alan, is a stay-at-home dad, so he took on more of the additional burden than I did. I’m so lucky in that regard. I can’t imagine how tough it’s been for families with two working parents. My heart goes out to them.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We have this huge family calendar that we use to keep track of everything. That came in tremendously handy. We also used printed schedules and whiteboards. Alan set alarms for every class, so the kids had no excuses not to tend to their schooling. We also found ways for them to burn off their excess energy each day. At the end of the day, you need to remind yourself that it’s not going to be perfect. You just have to accept that you’re doing the best you can and then carve out time to have fun and laugh. In times like this, that just might be the most important goal of all.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Like everyone else, I find it a challenge to keep up with the sheer volume of meetings. My days are longer because meetings are starting earlier and ending later. Cutting back on meetings isn’t really an option, though, because it’s so important to stay connected with my leaders, teams, and peers as we’re all dealing with challenges both professionally and personally.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
First and foremost, you have to be willing and able to adapt. In my mind, that’s one of the traits of a great leader. It’s also necessary to keep a positive attitude. It doesn’t do you or your team any good to sit and complain about the current state of things. We’re all in the same boat and as we like to say at Lincoln, “we’re all in this together,” so the best thing you can do is stay upbeat and positive and vocalize that we will get through this situation. Being present with your team and listening to their ideas and concerns is also super important. There’s no better way to learn about people’s perspectives and opinions and just generally how they are feeling. That gives you a deeper understanding and enables you to make better decisions.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
The first thing you have to do is invest in a quality set of ear buds! Seriously, they are a Godsend. Secondly, be sure to draft schedules and calendars, but expect and accept that you will end up straying from them. Priorities shift every day between work and family and that’s okay. Most importantly, take time for yourself and be forgiving of yourself. You’re not going to be perfect at everything, so don’t beat yourself up when you fall short of your own expectations. And don’t forget to exercise. It helps you stay healthy and clears your head, which is incredibly important in this environment.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Like a lot of other families, we added a new puppy to the family. That’s been a source of joy in so many ways. It keeps the kids busy and helps us all get our exercise. We’ve found a lot of creative ways to engage in activities as a family, like having dance competitions for the kids or having each child pick something they would like to do and simply be present and enjoy it with them. Those memories will last forever.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1) Resiliency — We are resilient! We have made it through so many things in each of our lives over the years — personally, professionally, economically, socially, etc. Each of them can feel overwhelming, but we always come out better and stronger.
2) Reflection — This is a good time to take a step back from everything going on, focus on what’s most important and spend your energy on that. We can’t change everything that’s going on around us and frankly, we shouldn’t try.
3) Don’t lose sight of the little things — We all have busy lives and it’s easy to take things for granted. Having three active kids, a wonderful husband, pets galore and a demanding job leaves little time. Being at home, I have found myself enjoying the little things like hearing the kids laughing, having them running into my office to give me a hug between meetings and playing outside. This has such a positive impact on mental health and puts things in perspective when you take the time to take in those little things.
4) Connection — Although this has been one of the busiest times of my professional and personal lives, I’ve never felt more connected to my co-workers and loved ones. Connection in the “office” and at home has been so important to me. It’s a time to continuously reach out and check in with all the people in my life, using whatever means possible. Doing team building activities and offering words of encouragement and positivity are two ways I stay connected with co-workers and loved ones, and it is absolutely essential in this mentally strenuous climate.
5) Kindness — We hear a lot about the negative things going on around us, but we need to focus on the kindness and positivity in our lives. It’s important to know that we will get through this because we will continue to have compassion and humility. I make it a point to talk about things I am grateful for, offer compliments and pay it forward when I have the chance. You often don’t realize it until you experience it first-hand but I’ve found kindness goes an incredibly long way.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The most important thing you can do it listen. We all need an outlet to express our feelings and concerns. By giving friends and family the opportunity to simply talk about how they’re feeling, you can help ease their burdens and make an enormous difference in their anxiety level. Check in with them frequently, even if it’s just to say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ That goes a long way in letting them know they are supported and loved. And if you can find a way to make them laugh, that’s worth its weight in gold. Laughter is so contagious and a great natural stress reliever — definitely something we could all use right now.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs
I grew up with a lot of drive, always wanting to be better. I’ve lived my life through heart and intuition, placing what’s best for me, my company and my family at the forefront of everything I do. Life is what you make it and as I think about getting older and looking back on my life so far, I ask myself, ‘Is it worth getting upset about it? Is this what you will want to be remembered for?’ You only live once, so you have to do what makes you happy.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!