Who says ambitious career women have to sacrifice a healthy work–life balance? In a new generation, women can successfully manage the boardroom and bedtime duties. Just ask this high-rising queen. Talking family, self-care and the power of “No,” Georgia Power’s media lead, Ashley West, lays it all out.
As the spokesperson for Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, Ashley West, 30, is an executive on the rise. Whether it’s managing GP’s social media, crafting press releases and statements or responding to media inquiries, West is on the front line of the organization’s Southwest communications division.
“My days are never the same at work, and I love that. It’s not routine at all. I’ve had work days that went by so smoothly; and then at 4:30 p.m., a media call is received about an emergency downed power line due to a car accident in heavy traffic and we have to stay late to write a statement,” she explains. “And my husband, Jarvis [West] Sr., is a high school teacher and varsity football coach. So, life can get a little hectic, but we make it work.”
The couple’s three children—Ashton, 8, Jarvis Jr., 2, and Ziyah, 1—are vibrant and thriving, which means more action in the West household. As pivotal as her professional life is, West’s ability to balance her roles as wife and mother in the midst of her career seem effortless. But she admits, it requires prioritizing.
“Ashton plays flag football, as well as soccer and basketball. He also participates in chess tournaments, and we try to keep him involved in STEM-related activities,” she says. “When it’s off-season, my husband handles the boys by getting them ready for school and fed. He makes Ziyah’s bottles for the day and puts all of my work bags and Ziyah’s daycare bags in the car while I get her ready. That can take a little while [because] I finally have a little girl to dress up.”
She adds, “Jarvis gets Ashton off to school and picks him up, helps him with homework, and will cook dinner. Once I get home, he’ll give Jr. a bath, I’ll give Ziyah a bath and feed her, then we all just hang out until bedtime and both of us typically get each kid in bed, read a book and say our prayers.”
With changes in the economy and a much-needed reset to traditional nuclear family roles, women are doing more and accelerating as entrepreneurs, CEOs and corporate executives. It’s a refreshing shift—but one that is ever evolving.
“We’re living in a different time. We’re not following society’s rules, and [I] applaud today’s women for doing what’s best for them. I believe women can master both focusing on their family goals and career plans. It’s not easy, but if you’re determined, both can be achieved,” the Albany State graduate says. “I would like to see a representation of women in leadership roles, especially working moms. While women’s rise in leadership is a sign of societal progress, it’s not deprived of challenges. When women are in positions of influence, gender bias and power imbalance can be more effectively countered.”
West is on the fast track toward success with plans to start her own PR firm. She’s beautiful, reflective and centered, undoubtedly a pillar in her personal and professional worlds alike. After losing her younger brother Joshua in a car accident a few years ago (“Jr. resembles him and has his strong personality, so it helps me a lot to see so much of my brother in him,” she says), she’s firm on self-care. She believes this allows her to be the best for her family.
“I would be lying if I say that I’ve mastered not losing myself in the day-to-day. Self-care takes practice,” she explains. “I think this will always be a process, because one month I may feel as though life is going amazing, the next month I may feel like my routine in life is a mess.
That only tends to happen when I don’t make time for myself. That’s why I’m such an advocate for self-care. Every night once everyone is in bed, I like to have quiet time to myself. I make a cup of tea, gather my thoughts or read a book. Even if it’s only a few pages. I’ve learned to balance priorities, focus on what’s important and be present.”
West’s tips for working moms?
“Learn to say ‘No.’ Figure out what you can do, what you want to do, and only do those things. Be present over being perfect. We all try to be ‘that’ mom that only feeds our kids organic food, cooks every meal from scratch and is president of the PTA. Be okay with not being this mom.
Our kids just want us present. And swallow your pride. Ask for and accept help. I can’t imagine motherhood without my support system. It truly takes a village.”
West says a big part of her successful work-life balance is relying on the help of her husband, Jarvis—even if that means, asking dad to set up and do their daughter’s hair.
So we invited Jarvis and two other dads to learn how; check out page 20 for our story on father-friendly hair stylings for young girls. –Linda Day