Jacqueline Saturn gives new meaning to the old adage “juggling it all.” In the summer of 2013, the mother-of-two left a nearly two-decade stint at Epic Records to relocate her family from New York to Los Angeles after being approached to run the indie label Harvest Records.
The deciding factor? She accepted the job after receiving a unanimous vote from her husband and kids in a Saturn family meeting.
Since then, the label head has successfully navigated the challenges of moving cross-country with two children in tow, nurturing over a dozen up-and-coming artists, and squeezing in elementary school plays in-between mandatory staff meetings.
We recently caught up with Saturn to find out the secret to her success at work and at home.
You have two girls, age 12 and 8. What do they think about their mom working in the music industry?
We moved to L.A. three years ago. I was at Sony for 19 years as the Senior Vice President of Promotions at Epic Records. We never really thought I would leave. Then I got offered an opportunity to start a new record label that is part of the Capitol Music Group and that’s how we got to California. We had to make the decision together. It was pretty cool and not what I expected. My kids are very aware of what I do and I think that’s really good. If you have a job where you have to work late or travel a lot, it’s better to be able to explain what you’re doing as opposed to just not being around.
Is it tough juggling family with a busy career?
Yes, but I’ve gotten so much better at it. You have to make your family feel as important as your clients and that’s serious business. When I had my job in New York, it was a different scene. People would be like, “Why don’t you drop by and have a drink?”
As a working mother, is it ever hard for you to set boundaries at work?
I’m not great at it, but I know it’s important. I also know that I can have a co-worker be there for me so I can make everyone happy. It’s hard because I love my job. Some people are like, “My children are my number one priority.” I feel like I have children in two different places. I have staff and artists that are family too. It’s hard, especially as a woman, if you are a pleaser. You want people to feel supported, so that is a lot of pressure. That's almost more pressure than the actual job.
Is it even possible to make everybody happy all of the time?
No, it’s not possible but you get better at it. You get better at figuring out what you can handle. Some weeks are just bad, but you get better at dealing with it.
Are there some things you absolutely will not miss regardless of what's on your calendar at work?
I’ve gotten so much better at it. The advisor meeting is mandatory. You just have to be vigilant and it’s really all on you. Then there’s the play in the middle of the day and a senior staff meeting at 2 PM at the office that’s mandatory. But I've missed the mandatory meeting because I have to go see the Passover play.
How have your kids, Alanah and Leora, made you better at your job?
Being a mom is perfect for being an executive because you have to be a really good communicator. You have to be a good listener. You multi-task so much, you’re able to do a lot of different things. I don’t know how I would do it if I weren’t a mom. Also, I play music for my kids so they can be involved and have opinions.
Do they enjoy being used as your test audience?
Oh, that road is really wide open now! They've got all sorts of opinions about how I’m doing it wrong.
Do you actually listen to their advice?
Yeah, a lot of times I do. They say in the music business, “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” My kids really gravitate towards things pretty quickly.
What's your favorite way to unwind after a busy day?
My favorite part of the day is when the kids start getting ready to go to bed because I'm unwinding with them. Then it’s just me lying down in my bed checking email and taking a minute to review things. I've also always been a runner all of my life. So, I wake up early and run like crazy. It changes my whole day.
You obviously have a packed schedule. How early do you have to wake up to squeeze in a workout?
I literally get up at 4:50 AM, because there’s no other way. I read all these books about what executives do at five in the morning. All of them were doing the same thing. I take my kids to school at 7:25 so I need to go work out, get home, and be focused. If I haven't done my workout, I’m so stressed out.
You travel a lot for your job. What can't you live without on the road?
No matter what the weather is like, you've got to have a sweatshirt for the plane because it's always cold. I also always have a second charger and lots of water on the plane. And I have headphones because I have to listen to music. I actually love planes because there's no email. That’s the thing with my job. There’s never a moment where you’re not looking at email.
When you're away, is your husband a hands-on dad?
Yes, he’s really good with them. When I’m not there, he’s there. But, the other night I had this really important event and I wanted him to come. It was the first week of school, but he ended up coming and it was so awesome. Of course, I got home and the older one was up and the younger one was asleep on the floor. But I aspire to become way more involved. I feel better about myself when I am in the know with my kids.
Do you have any help at home besides your husband?
My sister-in-law is amazing. I’m really lucky because she lives close by and my kids are crazy for their cousins. They will gladly go over there. She’s always there to help me.
It sounds like you've actually figured out that elusive work-life balance. How do you juggle it all?
I love what I do. It makes me happy and, I think, when you’re happy, you sort of figure out how to make everything work.
What's one piece of advice you wish you could give every new working mom?
When I was coming up in the business, people didn’t really talk about being a mom. It was a guy's world so, if you left early to feed your eight-month-old, it was like, “Oh she’s a mom!” But, if a guy left early because he was coaching Little League, it was okay. My advice is just not to beat yourself up. You’re still learning to be a mom, so you just have to be one. Remember that that takes a minute. You’re not going to solve that puzzle right away.
Photo credit: Top Image via The People Series