Ken Schuman’s transition out of investment banking was documented in the following New York Times article.
New York Times Sunday Magazine
By Gail Gregg
Balancing the Demands of Career & Family
It was a blizzard that finally forced the issue into the open. As snow began to fall at noon one wintry New York day, Kenneth S. Schuman, then an associate at the Wall Street investment banking firm of Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, was asked by a senior partner to stand by. A major deal was in the wind, and Schuman soon would be asked to put together a rush report on the project. At 4:45 P.M., his orders finally came through.
Ordinarily, Schuman would have sighed, remained at the office and labored over the complex report until early the next morning. But this evening was different. Schuman’s wife, Wendy, a magazine editor, had left for an overnight assignment in Maryland; the teenage babysitter staying with their daughter Cory, then 7 years old, was waiting to be relieved; and outside, the biggest storm of the season was under way. Schuman simply had to get home, important deal or no important deal.
The 39-year-old New Yorker quickly filled his briefcase with the documents he needed and boarded the subway for the half-hour ride to his Upper West Side home. Between intervals of bathing, feeding and entertaining his daughter, Schuman was able to read through some of the complicated financial papers. And once Cory was in bed, he sat up the rest of the night completing his analysis. “I did the best I could, but the pressure was unbelievable to juggle all that,” he remembers.
For months, Schuman and his wife had been debating the demands of his job, which he had taken after a two-and-a half year tenure New York City’s economic development commissioner. Should Schuman ever become a partner at the firm (now Shearson Lehman Brothers, a subsidiary of American Express) his family would be rich “almost beyond belief.” But there were plenty of sacrifices to be made in the interim; his work hours were so extensive and unpredictable, in fact, that Wendy Schuman had vetoed having a second child. “I always felt off balance; you never knew whether you’d be able to make it,” Schuman now says of his investment banking days. “You always had to say you’d try to be there, with the family, but you couldn’t promise. And when you were home you’d never know when the phone would ring and you’d be called back in.”
On the night of the snowstorm, Schuman concluded that the rewards of his high-finance job weren’t worth the price. Several days later, he summoned his courage and went to his superiors with his dilemma: “I told them I was happy with my title and salary but unhappy with the unpredictability of the hours,” Schuman says. “The response was they gave me a better title and more money. They really didn’t seem to understand what I was saying.” He tried for several more months to work out some way to remain at the company, but finally he knocked on the door of a senior partner, Peter J. Solomon, to inform him of his decision. He would leave Lehman to start his own company, a real estate investment venture, with two friends who also wanted jobs that permitted them to spend more time with their families.
“I wish I had him back,” Solomon now says of Schuman, who he describes as very talented. But he confirms that there is little room in the investment banking field for men or women with strong family commitments. “I think the pressures on everybody are destructive and probably get in the way of any balanced life,” says Solomon. “Regrettably, if you’re going to be a world class player, along with the money and the glamour and the pizzazz goes a lack of personal time.”
The real conflict for Schuman- and for many other fathers like him today- is that he did want to be a "world class player" in business; but he also wanted a "world class" home life. Though few men have yet to forfeit as Schuman did, high-powered careers and six digit incomes for family considerations, millions of fathers now are experiencing the same stresses as they try to fulfill longtime career goals and satisfy new family demands.
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