Lorna Kapusta: “Take the time you need, focus on family, we want you here”

We are all excited to get back out there, but there is goodness that has come from this time too — resilience, flexibility and finding joy in family and quiet time. 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 […]

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We are all excited to get back out there, but there is goodness that has come from this time too — resilience, flexibility and finding joy in family and quiet time.

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 Lorna Kapusta.

As Head of Women and Investing at Fidelity Investments, Lorna is responsible for a firm wide initiative committed to empowering women to become more actively involved in their finances at every life stage. Lorna works tirelessly to develop educational materials, events, actionable advice and other resources to drive financial confidence among women. Previously, Lorna led Customer Segmentation and Financial Wellness efforts for Fidelity’s retirement business and spent 15+ years in financial services tackling customer strategy and engagement, marketing and new business opportunities.

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?

I love this question because I enjoy talking about my current career and role as Head of Women Investors at Fidelity. I have been fortunate to have great jobs throughout my career, each with increasing opportunity to solve customer challenges and build customer experiences that drive business results. Given the growing demands of my career, while simultaneously growing my family at home — 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat! — I had so much going on that I took a divide and conquer approach with my husband, divvying up responsibilities. And that ended up with him handling the majority of the financial planning and investing decisions. It was about five years ago, when I started working at Fidelity, that I realized that my husband and I needed to get on the same page about our money and goals (retirement, college, vacation, etc.), and then we needed to make sure our money was invested to achieve those goals. Thank goodness I did — the money stress I felt previously was significantly reduced, just by getting more involved. I also felt a lot more confident about our future overall, because I knew I was now making my money work as hard as I did. A few years into my career at Fidelity, the opportunity to lead our women investors effort became available. And now I have the pleasure of working with an organization that is committed to helping all women make their money work as hard as they do!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

One of my most memorable and impactful moments happened in my first year at Fidelity. I had moved to Massachusetts from upstate New York, which was my third move, with 3 young children (5, 7 and 9 years old) in less than 8 years. I started at Fidelity a couple months after we moved into our new house and the kids started at their new school. About six months in, two of my three children were still really struggling with our move and their transitions to the new school. It was severe enough that I knew I needed to make a tough decision: I needed to put my career on hold to focus on my kids. Since I had only started six months earlier, a leave of absence was not a policy option, so I thought I had to quit. But when I approached my leader, he was immediately understanding and supportive. He told me, ‘take the time you need, focus on family, we want you here.’ He and the organization worked with me to make it happen. And those who became aware of my situation reached out with personal stories, recommendations and kind ears. Fidelity provided me the time I needed to take care of my family and enabled me to come back to a career I love.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! This has certainly been a crazy year. As the pandemic took hold, for everyone, life and money stress increased, but particularly for women. To help address this, we wanted to create a forum for women to easily connect with us and get answers to some of the most pressing questions we’re hearing on a weekly basis. We launched our Women Talk Money live weekly series to do this, inviting women to submit questions that were most relevant right now. And the response has been tremendous. Every Wednesday, I have the pleasure of moderating our discussion with two Fidelity financial professionals, talking about different financial topics that are driven by what our viewers are asking for. It’s a casual, but informative discussion bringing women together, with no judgement, just 30 minutes of plain speak and real information to help make decisions and take action. We’ve received nearly 2,000 questions over the last five months, and the feedback and energy of these discussions are the highlight of my week.

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 am so lucky to have several amazing leaders, mentors and now lifelong friends who have helped me on this journey. Many years ago, a mentor of mine did something it’s hard for most people to do, this person was an executive at a large company,

I had just been promoted to a new, much larger role with broadened responsibilities and tripling the size of my team. It was a big jump at the time and inside I was feeling a lot of self-doubt if I could do it. Shortly after, I met my mentor for lunch. I didn’t speak up about those doubts, but somehow they seemed to know and provided just the right advice in the moment. Instead of calling me out or questioning how I felt, they shared their own ‘imposter’ moments from their own experience. They showed their own vulnerability, opening up about the reality of feeling self-doubt and how they were able to successfully move past it. That lunch, in the scheme of time we had spent together, seems so small, but it was the perfect approach to encourage and helping me understand I am not alone in these feelings, that I can do it. This was a truly monumental moment for me, and I am thankful for it every time I take on new challenge.

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?

I have three children at home with me, a husband working from home three days a week, two dogs and a cat. Needless to say, it’s crowded. Although I feel we have been very lucky — all healthy, no job loss, quality family time and the ability to work at home — it is as if we rewound the clock ten years, back to when they were babies/toddlers and I would leave them at daycare, running out the door to get to work hearing them scream and cry for me. These last few months have felt oddly similar. Their schedule is all disrupted, off from school or camp, with free time at home. They don’t understand why I can’t be off playing with them too? It has been quite challenging to set boundaries while trying to ensure they feel taken care of, engaged in some activity that isn’t screen time all day and that they eat at least one healthy meal.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

The benefit of working from home, and working for Fidelity, has provided me opportunity to flex the structure my day so that it works for my family. I take two-three 15-minute breaks during the day and go check on the kids. And every day, regardless of what’s going on at work, at 6pm I stop and put my phone way so we can have dinner together. Now I am not saying we have a homecooked gourmet meal, but there is food and family consistently!

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Routines and schedules have been most important and helpful for us. Every day we get up, shower and get dressed. That might sound small, but initially there was a lot of all-day pajama wearing, which I think made us lazier. And more importantly, we put in place schedules we all could follow. Each of our children needs help with schoolwork, and initially there were no boundaries for when they asked for that help. The best advice I was given by other parents was to set up a schedule for this — doing so really helped the kids understand when we could help and how much time we could spend with each. It took some time, but once we got into the rhythm, the structure and routine worked. Of course, there are times they don’t want to do their work, or my husband and I are just too tired to help…but we made it through and are gearing up for Fall 2020!

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?

Sane and serene — I love those words. I think there are few things that have helped. First, I did a little redecorating of my bedroom, adjusting the colors to greys and neutral beige, which just feels more spa-like and calming. Second, I invested in a few great face masks — sounds simple but once per week, I close my bedroom door and take some ‘me time’ — face mask, candles, a glass of wine and quiet. I enjoy every minute of it. And last, but maybe most important, I don’t pressure myself to cook every night. We do our best, but if ordering in is easiest, then we do it. And I try to order from local restaurants hoping to help them as well.

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.

The first reason is pretty simple. When we look at the history of pandemics and disease, we have beaten other situations with far fewer resources. I have confidence in the medical world that we will beat this.

I am also hopeful as I look to colleagues and friends and see how quickly we have adjusted to life in our new normal. Rather than allowing for isolation, people are reaching out and connecting. We really have become a Zoom nation, staying connected not only at work but with friends. It’s been a silver lining to reconnect through video calls with friends I hadn’t seen in years. We’ve started a new way of connecting I hadn’t done before but now will do ongoing.

Lastly, as my kids have gotten older (now ages 11, 13 and 15) and I and my husband both continue to work full time, our pre-pandemic family time was much less. As we’ve hunkered down together, we’re finding new ways to enjoy free time together — such as a family jumpathon on the trampoline, hiking, riding bikes and baking.

We are all excited to get back out there, but there is goodness that has come from this time too — resilience, flexibility and finding joy in family and quiet time.

How can our readers follow you online?


And I encourage everyone to join our weekly Women Talk Money discussions or watch on-demand. I’ll be there — bring your questions!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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