Authority Magazine sat down with Pond Lehocky Giordano’s Chief Operating Officer, Jackie Donovan, for a candid conversation about how women leaders are addressing the needs and challenges of balancing work and life. Donovan’s article, How Jackie Donovan of Pond Lehocky Giordano Tackles the Extreme Work Life Balance of Being a Woman Business Leader during Covid-19 shares valuable advice to other working parents and leaders.
“It is difficult to find equal time to be the COO of the Donovan’s and the COO of Pond Lehocky,” Donovan shared. “There must be sacrifices on both ends and sometimes the decision making in those sacrifices can be gut wrenching. Early on I was so focused on the firm having a seamless transition to remote work that my family took a back seat. Once the chaos of the initial transition calmed, I made the conscious decision to structure my day and prioritize what was most important — both at work and at home. If I wanted to find time to exercise, I made the effort to find time outside of work and family time. Point being, if I wanted to do things for myself, I had to get up earlier and make time.”
Donovan is the Chief Operating Officer at Pond Lehocky Giordano. She has held that position since 2012. Before that, she served as the firm’s Office Manager/Administrator from its opening in 2010. Under her watch Pond Lehocky Giordano has become one of Pennsylvania’s largest workers’ compensation. Jackie is a proud D1 athlete.
Under Donovan’s leadership, Pond Lehocky transitioned to a remote workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic. Donovan shared that “at the risk of sounding cliché, the transition to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic was by far one of the most interesting things to happen to me since I began leading the company. I’m not sure work-related challenges during the pandemic are gender specific. In my opinion, challenges have been less about gender and more specific to personality. For example, I prefer to talk out challenges in face to face. Often times, operational hurdles can be complicated to work out through email. Early on in the pandemic I would get overwhelmed with working through issues without the ability to walk to someone’s office on a whim.”
Pond Lehocky has embraced a modern, personalized leadership model with business professionals helping to form and implement the firm’s strategy. Pond Lehocky’s partners recognized that the legal profession has been slow to change in the face of societal and demographic shifts. The executive team at the firm is proudly 50% female.
“I’ve learned that women, even intelligent and confident women, often doubt their self-worth,” Donovan said. “The inability to believe you are not only capable, but worthy is one of the biggest hurdles I’ve seen women face in my career and personal life. While the support of others you respect is incredibly encouraging, you must truly believe deep down in your self-worth. That is one of the keystones of success.”
If law firms are to embrace effective change, they need strong leaders with strategic vision and the ability to secure buy-in from their colleagues. Thus, Pond Lehocky is turning to business professionals with skills and expertise beyond the legal realm.
“History! History shows us that this has happened before and we will get through it,” Donovan reminds us. “And for those that have jobs, it is important to have perspective. There are many out there that have been laid off and are having difficulty finding work. Find the joy in your work and ride the wave. Be hopeful if you have your health and are taking the steps to stay healthy. Both physically and mentally. We can all agree it has been a challenging time to stay physically and mentally healthy. Putting your health first will help your happiness and the ability to stay hopeful.”