3-Minute Interview: Debra Waller

The chairman and CEO of apparel giant Jockey International, Inc. and mother of three met with San Mateo County women Tuesday night to discuss the relationship between being the head of a major company and the head of a household. Three years ago, she founded Jockey Person to Person, which lets women operate an in-home Jockey sales business on their own schedule.

How does being the CEO of a business relate to being a CEO of your home? There is quite a correlation. When you are a CEO, you manage people. You need organizational skill, leadership and HR skills, and you need to be financially savvy. The same is true at home, where you have to manage your children and husband, organize the family schedule, train your children and keep track of the family finances.

What’s the most valuable tool you use to keep the business and family in order? A calendar. It’s the most vital tool. Without that calendar, I wouldn’t know where I’m supposed to be, or where my children need to be. It’s the only way to keep track of what’s going on in the business and at home.

How have you been able to manage a major company as well as three children? I have a super husband. I get that support from him. I also think technology has come to a point where we can really stay connected to what’s going on in both worlds.

Which job takes up the most of your time? The family is a 24-hours-a-day job. Being a mom, your job never ends. And I believe that business, on the other hand, can be what you want it or need it to be.

Was that the idea behind Jockey Person to Person? Yes. I think it’s important for women to understand they do both — be a CEO at home and a CEO of their own business. Jockey Person to Person allows women that flexibility. Women now have the opportunity to manage both schedules

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