CEO quits high-flying job after daughter’s ‘missed milestones’ list

By Efrosini Costa

CEO quits high-flying job after daughter’s ‘missed milestones’ list
The head of a trillion-dollar investment fund quit his job after his daughter wrote him a note with 22 special moments he had missed.

Mohammed El-Erian shocked the financial world when he resigned as chief executive of PIMCO in May last year.

Little did they know it was all because of letter written to the executive by his 10-year-old daughter.

The California-based father wrote about how his daughter and wife were at the heart of his decision to leave in a recent essay for Worth.

The 56-year-old, who made $100 million in 2011 alone, spoke of a “wake-up call” that happened after an argument with his daughter about brushing her teeth.

During the argument his daughter left to fetch a piece of paper and what she had written stunned Mr El-Erian.

“It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments,” he wrote.

“The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade.”

“I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-do.”

“But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point … I was not making nearly enough time for her.”

El-Erian used to leave home for work at 4.30am every morning but since resigning he and his lawyer-wife take it in turns to wake their daughter up, prepare her breakfast and get her off to school.

But he still finds time to take on a ‘portfolio’ of part-time roles, including as the chief economic adviser at Allianz, which mean less travelling time away from home and more flexibility.

“So far, it’s been the right decision decision for me.”

“I’m the first to recognise that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to structure my life in this way. And I’m so grateful that this is providing me greater opportunity to experience key moments in my daughter’s life before they’re all too quickly gone.”

“Unfortunately not everyone has this luxury. But, hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what’s important to them.”


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