My 10-year-old daughter recently came home and asked me, “Mum, at what age will you retire?”

It was an interesting question that made me really stop and think about my answer. I enjoy my work, I am challenged and I have opportunities to develop personally and professionally. I work with an amazing team and my work provides me financial security, independence and the flexibility I need to raise my children. Since having children, fulfilling work that meets all these criteria is more important than ever – time away from home means precious time away from my family. If work always meets these professional and personal goals, retirement should be many years away.

Many are astounded that I have been with my current employer for almost 15 years, half of which has been spent overseas in a role that required frequent travel, and I have always worked full time. Over the years, many women have asked me how I juggle work and raising three young children, and at times I’m unsure if I should be offended by this type of question as I suspect men are never asked.

I believe this question comes from a genuine interest and the fact that women want to excel in both areas of their life, and they want to know how others experience ‘the juggle’ – how they make it work. I have always laid low when the question is floated around. I am hardly the right person to ask I’ve always thought. I’ve just gone about life, and don’t recognise that what I am doing is anything different to all the other mothers out there.

Having relocated back to Australia, I see that the discussion around gender equality is giving way to change, albeit extremely slowly. Many companies are starting to tackle this issue. Conversations are now taking place about flexible working for both men and women, unconscious bias training is becoming more prevalent, and targets and reporting on female representation are top priority. And because of this, I have started to realise that perhaps laying low isn’t the best option. We lack stories of everyday women who are making it work for them. So here is my story.

Reflecting on my career I am particularly thankful for the many managers, both male and female, who I reported to. The accounting firm director who selected me for a prestigious overseas secondment six months before I got married; the general managers who opened up a position for me in Hong Kong to work on real estate transactions (an area that I have never worked on before) as I moved country while on maternity leave; a manager who pushed for a director promotion as I was pregnant with my second child and subsequently gave me the opportunity to work in a front line role when I returned; and another manager who allowed me to attend school functions during working hours, long before flexible working became mainstream.

Once upon a time I would have said I was lucky and in the right place at the right time. While there is an element of truth in that, on reflection I have sought and grabbed each opportunity, gave it my best shot and worked hard. Yes, I had to make some sacrifices and I also had the benefit of a strong network of family and friends who supported me. The luck part is probably that I had the opportunity to work with these amazing managers who supported me.

As the modern family structure is complex and personal circumstances differ, what works for one person is different to others, however there is one thing all employees have in common – it is choosing the person you report to and the organisation you work for.

When I attended job interviews on my return to Australia, I openly discussed what I can contribute to the role and also the importance of delivering results, though not at the expense of ‘face time’. To me, such openness means that I am now in a role, with a manager and a company, which meets all my values.

The ongoing discussions around gender equality are extremely important, and something we should all be involved in. Don’t lay low like me, share your story of how you are making it work and be open and honest. If it is not working for you, be open to asking for help and seek the support that you need.

For the managers and leaders of people, make a difference in the life of your staff and support their personal goals both inside and outside of work. If you want to affect change beyond your direct reports, start up or join the advocacy groups at your work or in your industry that are bringing the issues of equality and flexibility to the forefront; make a difference for us and the next generation.

When answering that question my daughter asked, I now say, ‘until Mummy has made a significant contribution to my personal and professional goals’. Incidentally, my daughter announced that she intends to work till she is 80 years old. I hope for her and her generation that our companies, social support structures and government policies allow for her generation to seek professionally fulfilling roles that meet their life goals regardless of gender.

Lean In is an alumni authored column that focuses on themes about work/life balance, women in leadership roles, workplace (in)equality, ambition and opportunities. Lean In provides alumni with a space to candidly discuss workplace issues that many think about but rarely discuss publicly. ​​