Sherri (Arnold) Privitera doesn’t believe in work-life balance.
“The word balance is hard for women in particular,” she explained. “I like to call it work-life integration because there isn’t ever balance. Sometimes you need to spend more time in your home or personal life, and sometimes you need to spend more time on your work deadlines.”
As a senior principal at the Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous, Privitera has plenty of experience juggling competing priorities, though she admits not always so harmoniously.
“You feel like you’re shorting someone, and that can be overwhelming,” she said. “At times I wondered, ‘What am I doing? Where do I need to be?’ Once I changed the word balance, it helped me with my expectations.”
Certain family milestones, for instance, are non-negotiable. “I will say no to the interview for potential clients on my daughter’s birthday,” she said. “And I’ve done that, and fortunately I work for a place that agrees with me. Once a client said, ‘I would have been upset if you had come to the interview knowing that it was your daughter’s birthday.’ ”
Sherri Privitera and her daughter Privitera’s work primarily involves developing collegiate sports facilities at schools such as the University of Missouri, University of Texas and Purdue. She previously served as the manager on four projects at Baylor, most notably the $266 million McLane Stadium, which Privitera said “catapulted” her career.
“It was going to be the largest project that I had managed,” she recalled. “I was a new mom at the time, and having to travel away from my child was a hard transition.”
In her quest for work-life integration, she searched for ways to merge motherhood with her job responsibilities.
“Sometimes I would take her to the construction site at night,” Privitera shared. “Opening day was actually her fourth birthday, and my dad came and saw it — a construction site that was all mine — before he passed away. There was a lot going on that made it an incredible project for me.”
As for what’s currently on her plate, Privitera is focused on refining and expanding her leadership skills. She was recently promoted to Populous’ Americas regional board, and she’s eager to pave the way for women in the traditionally male-dominated worlds of architecture and sports.