WDYDWYD?Why do you do what you do?
When I was younger I was told I could do anything and have everything if I put my mind to it. So in the first thirty-odd years I went to Oxford, Harvard, had a good investment banking career, successfully exited a start up in 2006, and partnered in a hedge fund raised by an HBS magazine cover guy. I threw myself into nonprofit work. My husband and home are nice. Oh, I ran eight miles and worked out every morning too. Life was alpha femina.
Then I had two little girls, 18 months apart. They were sweet, soft, and vulnerable, and I love them so much that it hurts. I juggled, had a home office and hired help. The days started with Bloomberg and emails at 4am and a manic blur of babies and work thereafter. I still had the picture perfect life, but I was in tears from tiredness and anger. I was not enjoying anything, let alone sharing any joy with my children.
Now I am a stay-at-home mum who bakes and jumps in muddy puddles like Peppa pig. The days are still busy but filled with laughs and giggles (and some tears, of course). My children only grow up once, and it's wonderful to know that I am not missing a moment. It is a privilege to experience everything for the first time through a child's eyes and really puts things in perspective. The day will come when they don't need me all the time, and I know the market and my Bloomberg will still be there (and won't mind my absence a bit). If asked by my girls in the future, I will tell them—you can do anything and have everything, but sometimes doing less can give you more in life.
— Athena Ko
Photography by Gavin Wong
University of Oxford
JPMorgan; UBS; Portland Capital LLP
Tony Deifell (MBA 2002) created WDYDWYD?, a social media meme of people answering the simple question, “why do you do what you do?” by combining an image and text. To honor the 50th anniversary of women students at HBS, the Women’s Student Association Alumni Team (Annie Wheeler, MBA 2013; Danielle Slutzky, MBA 2013; and Tara Hagan, MBA 2014) partnered with Tony and asked alumnae to answer the question, “why do you do what you do?”
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