Frédéric and Fiona Bonner follows the relationship and careers of an investment banker and a tech entrepreneur as their personal and professional lives unfold. It hinges on the dilemma they face ten years into their marriage and with two young children, as job opportunities pull them to different sides of the United States. The case invites students to explore their opinions about Frédéric and Fiona’s life and careers to date, their successes, failures and trade-offs, and their options going forward. By doing so it creates a space for students to reflect on and discuss their experiences and expectations of “managing” the interplay between work, love, and family in their lives. The case challenges students to examine how they define success professionally and personally; how, with, and for whom they make major decisions; whether they can “have it all” and what that might look like.
This case is about the tension between the wish to manage and the risk of being managed by love and work. It is best suited to a course in organisational behaviour or career management. Presenting a scenario that many students will see as a potential dilemma, it allows them to proactively think about the rewards and challenges of dual-career relationships. It is particularly useful to surface students’ definitions and markers of success—for themselves as individuals, for their careers, and for their families—and the implications of those definitions. A successful class discussion will explore relationship, family and career issues from the perspective both of individuals and of the couple. Themes that can be covered include: • What success means personally, relationally and professionally; • The difference between making decisions “in” or “as” a couple; • The interplay of, and boundaries between, love lives and working lives; • Common experiences in dual-career couples: competition, sacrifice, trade-offs and relationship neglect; • Whether it is possible to “have it all” and what “having it all” means. The case discussion can help to normalise experiences and concerns that students may find difficult and enable them to examine the values that impact the way they structure and experience their relationships and careers.
- Career transitions
- Dual-career couples
- Work-life balance