Women on Having It All: Judy Rambert and Lisa Rambert Kersting
Judy Rambert, Vice President of Education, Pivot Point International
Lisa Rambert Kersting, Master Educator, Pivot Point International
This mother-daughter duo not only share love for the art of hairdressing, they share the passion of teaching, inspiring and mentoring the next generation of stylists at Pivot Point International. Judy Rambert has been an educator for 34 years, and in 2009, she received the L.E.O. Award for outstanding Pivot Point alumni. Lisa Rambert Kersting, Judy’s daughter, is a master educator at Pivot Point and has been a licensed cosmetologist since the age of 18. Inspired by her mother to pursue a career in cosmetology, Lisa spent eight years working in a salon and abroad before coming to Pivot Point to seek her true passion—education. She has taught at the Bloomingdale, Illinois, location of Pivot Point for the past seven years.
Do you believe a woman in the professional beauty industry can “have it all?” And, what does that mean to you?
Lisa and Judy: “Our experience of ‘having it all’ has been more like carving out time to enjoy what we have. We definitely feel the professional beauty industry has been good to both of us. We feel fortunate that as hairdressers and educators we were afforded flexible work schedules and good incomes. As hairdressers, there were years that our salon owners allowed us to adjust our hours—to attend college or spend time with our children. Due to commission-based work, our incomes did not suffer significantly. Today, Lisa teaches at night so she can be with her three children during the day. Choosing how to spend our limited time continues to require soul searching. We’ve decided that if we can look back at choices we made, and feel comfortable that we made the most informed decision at the time, then it was the right decision.”
In the pursuit of “having it all,” what sacrifices have either of you had to make, if any?
Lisa: “Being a wife and mother of three, I have chosen to work at night and be with my children during the day. This inevitably leaves me with little time for my best friend, my husband.”
Judy: “When my children were young, I worked long hours and traveled much more than I do today. I was fortunate that my mother lived with us, and my husband was a hands-on dad. I was always home for the big things, but for a long time I was very sad about missing out on the small things. So I started to involve my children—I used my son as a model for children’s haircutting and I brought my daughter on a few business trips so she could see what I was doing. That helped.”
Lisa, what encouraged you to follow your mother into a career with Pivot Point and the professional beauty industry?
Lisa: “As a young child, my mother would frequently take me to work with her. I spent time in the student salon having services and traveled to conventions with her a few times. I felt the warmth and connection of the Pivot Point family. When I was little we had mannequins everywhere. I played with them like my daughters do today. I saw first-hand the exciting opportunities my mother experienced on the educational side of the industry, including travel. I heard during family dinners about events happening in the industry, and met a lot of people from overseas. The founder of Pivot Point, Leo Passage encouraged me. First as a student, he inspired me to get involved in competition, and then after I worked as a hairdresser for quite some time, he encouraged me to get my teacher’s license. Going to a Pivot Point school at 17 years old was a no brainer, but working for Pivot Point as a teacher—that became a calling. It was a comfortable decision. I had the desire to teach and, between Leo’s and my mom’s continued encouragement, the passion for education was contagious. I just knew I had to have time for that too.”
If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what would be your favorite page?
Lisa: “My middle child is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with brain cancer four days after her first birthday. I would have to say that the eight weeks in Boston with my husband and daughters during Mady Mae’s proton radiation treatments was my favorite. Our family unit grew closer than ever during that time. It was our choice to make the best of the circumstance we were given and that is exactly what we did. We made lifelong friends with other families with children battling cancer all the while being able to experience all that Boston has to offer. I thank Pivot Point for the opportunity for that leave of absence to take care of my family. As a family business, they understood how important it was to be with my family during this critical medical treatment.”
Judy: “My favorite page contains pictures of our three granddaughters, Lisa and her husband, our son, and my husband and me at Disney World celebrating Mady’s successful journey through multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.A successful career in education allowed me to take all of us on this magical vacation that the girls loved. Any sacrifices were pale by comparison to the connections and celebration. Mady is our inspiration—health goes to the top of the list of having it all.”
If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what page would you want to rewrite?
Judy: “There is not a page I would rewrite. I am who I am because of experiences, the good ones and not so good ones.”
Lisa: “It is like the movie, The Butterfly Effect; if you change one page it could alter your future. I know that I have grown as an individual and as a mother because of what I have learned through my life experiences. I am thankful for that, no regrets.”
What’s your favorite tool, strategy or philosophy for maintaining balance between your work and your personal lives?
Judy: “Traditions with family and friends help me maintain balance. The older I get, the more important even little traditions are.”
Lisa: “Growing up we always ate dinner as a family, even if that meant waiting until 7:00pm when my mother came home from work. At our house Friday night was pizza night. My parents insisted we were home—we could have friends there, but very few excuses were accepted for not connecting on Friday nights. Pizza was even served to the head table the Friday night of my wedding! This family tradition still continues at my parent’s house today.”
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you, and how did it change your life?
Judy: My mother’s advice was also a way of life for her. She believed that thoughts were even more powerful than words. When things are not going smoothly, for whatever reason, I consider what I’ve been thinking—am I being judgmental or negative? Once I shift my thinking to a neutral place, solutions become more apparent, and most importantly, I don’t spend time sweating the small stuff.
Lisa: “I have had the good fortune of meeting many people who share great advice, many of whom are battling cancer. The common thread I hear is—live for today as you never know what tomorrow may bring. After Mady’s third brain surgery, a lovely woman named Janie came in the room to show support for our family. She shared her motto ‘Anchor Deep’ with us. She explained that ‘Anchor Deep’ had various meanings, but most importantly it means to stay grounded, never lose faith and trust that your anchor runs deep enough to weather any storm. We have been through our fair share of storms, and yet we always come out stronger on the other side.”
What wisdom would you share with a young woman entering a career in the professional beauty industry?
Judy: “Surround yourself with positive people, don’t limit yourself to what you think you are capable of doing, stretch to reach and discover where it will take you. If you like doing something, take the initiative to learn more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
What keeps you up at night?
Judy: “Mostly the children in our family right now—Lilli, 5; Mady 4 and Tori 1.”(Lisa, her husband and children live with Judy while they rent and try to sell their townhome.)
What makes you feel powerful?
Lisa: The ability to show students how to hold shears for the first time and 10 months later watch them do an entire hair sculpture by themselves.
What’s the best thing anyone’s ever told you about yourself?
Lisa: “Students have told me that they can feel my passion for the industry.”
Judy: “I’ve been told I am a good listener, which I seem to do better at work than at home, so my husband tells me.”
What do you hope to achieve in the next five years?
Judy: “I hope to continue collaborating with the incredible teams at Pivot Point to innovate first-class education, using best practice learning technologies so young people will continue to be attracted to our profession. Five years is a long way off, as far as learning technology goes, but it is exciting to think about touch screens on mirrors to demonstrate style selectors, voice recognition to simulate a study partner, gesture recognition to learn body positions to limit repetitive motion fatigue. Today, Pivot Point delivers all of its education for schools online. We are researching what’s next. That is what makes me smile and look forward to the future.”
Lisa: “My plan is to continue my volunteer work with Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation in an effort to find a cure for my daughter and all the other children who suffer from a life threatening brain tumor. In five years all my children will be in school full-time, so I plan to be working a more normal schedule so I can spend time more time with my amazing husband.”