By Luoise Esola
I was several months postpartum with my first child when I took on my first freelance writing assignment for Business Insurance magazine in 2007, after leaving my post as a staff writer to change diapers — “maternity left,” I called it.
It was to write profiles for a relatively new feature called Women to Watch: interview women in the insurance and risk management industries who are up and coming, who are already there, who were chosen by an editorial panel. Ask them: How do you do it? How will you continue?
To me, it was just an assignment — the editor had promised he would send me freelance work after I resigned to be home. But really, as I later learned, it wasn’t just any assignment.
I had been on staff at Business Insurance for almost a year, and a full-time journalist for six years, when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. That was, as most people in insurance can relate, not the plan.
My husband and I had been living in Chicago, our first not-so-wonderful winter under our belt, when it occurred to us that his traveling sales position, my long commute via crowded and often late “El train” from the north side to the Loop, the lack of childcare for infants — the cost for a nanny would have nearly eclipsed my young journalist’s salary — and a strong desire to simply stay home with my baby made the choice to stay home with our son easy.
I felt fortunate for that opportunity. However, having worked since I was 14 and aching to do something with my time that made my hard-won journalist career worth it, I still wanted my career. I was delighted when I received that first work-fromhome assignment. A deadline! It felt like old times.
I went on to have another baby within the next year, and I continued to stay home and freelance for Business Insurance for nine years. In the years that followed I contributed pieces for Women to Watch at a time when learning that women can and will do whatever they set their minds to was the message I needed to hear.
I find us moving in a world where we can do what we want, what we set our hearts and minds to — because of these trailblazers. In 2016, I went back to work as a full-time writer. Two months ago, nervous but excited, I took on my first management role: assistant editor.
Who inspires me? Women. Women like the ones you will read about in this month’s issue. Women like the ones I have interviewed since 2007: the thought leaders; the dynamic ones; the problem-solvers; the roll-up- your-sleeves women.
These women work, and many raised or are raising children. Or they travel the world because they can. Maybe they do both. They create companies. Grow companies. Make the numbers work. They are vital, as their companies say.
They moved up the ladder and helped other women. They helped me at a time I needed to hear their messages. They spoke of balancing life, work, love and purpose. They spoke of how you wind up somewhere and you just make do. You continue to strive. You move forward. You move up. As one of them told me this year, you climb that mountain.