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Work-life balance: Can women have it all?

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi's comments last week on whether working women can have it all—a fulfilling career and family life—has reignited the debate on how best to balance career and family.

Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of Center for Talent Innovation and mother of four, thinks women can have it all but maybe not all at the same time.

"When you've been in the driver's seat all day, it's hard to come home at 7 p.m. and go from boss to parent. Women have to learn how to role shift effectively," she told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

"I think the women who opt out instead of leaning in are the ones who never learned how to transform their behavior from the boardroom to the living room each night."

Read MorePepsi CEO on work life balance and coping with parental guilt

Susan Patton, author of "Marry Smart," urges women to put family before career, because timing, like any successful endeavor, is everything.

"Ladies, work can wait, fertility won't, so spend your 20s landing a husband, not climbing the corporate ladder," she said.

Image Source | Getty Images

Patton, a mother of two and an executive coach, argues that women spend too much energy on career-planning, and not enough on personal happiness.

"Wise up, revise the math, and instead invest 75 percent of your time finding a partner, having children, and 25 percent on your profession. The pay-off is much more rewarding in the long term," she said.

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Last week, an extremely candid PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi admitted how hard it is to get it right.

"I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all," she said to Atlantic Media Company's David Bradley at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

The key to having it all, even at staggered points in your life, Hewlett said, is to find the right mate.

"It's terribly important to have the wherewithal to have a loving, supportive spouse. And while it does take a lot of imagination, emotional intelligence is our strong point, take the time to find your mate," she said.

Read MoreWorking moms may be helping their kids: Study

However, Patton said not to wait too long.

"Don't start looking for a husband in your 30s. If you do, you go up against women 10 years younger, and that is a terrible competitive disadvantage in this marketplace," she said. "You can have a career and a husband and kids, as long as you start early and plan accordingly."

—By CNBC's Kerima Greene

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