When my dad passed away – very suddenly – it took me time to come to terms with this loss. Now I feel that this episode is ‘in the past’, because I confronted it but I still sense his absence very much. I suffer from it, especially when dealing with my own family. When you work 9-7 everyday, it does mean you sacrifice time that you could spend on child care. I cannot predict my three children get ill for example. Finding balance between work and my children can be stressful at times and now I don’t even have my dad, their grandparent, to help me on this side of things, or to be there should I need him psychologically. That is challenging.

Many books tell you how to ‘be the best at this’, how to ‘succeed at this’, but not so many tell you about the sacrifices that go with it, or how to deal with emotional stress. I have three children, this very busy job and I lost my father recently, which is emotionally heavy… How do you deal with that ?

(Ian works at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Italy. He also wrote, jointly with his wife Nadine, a book called The Karmic Curve, where he talks about the experience of working for the EU and about work-life balance)