Podcast: Viasat’s Chief People Officer on what makes the company such an appealing workplace
Melinda Kimbro on how the Viasat culture distinguishes it from other companies
In this episode of the Viasat podcast, host Alex Miller talks with Melinda Kimbro, Senior Vice President — People and Culture. As Viasat's Chief People Officer, Kimbro oversees the company's human resources and recruitment activities, and in this interview she talks about what makes Viasat such a desirable company to work for.
Having recently been recognized in Glassdoors' list of Best Places to Work in 2020, Kimbro says Viasat is appealing to employees for its innovative technologies as well as its culture. Maintaining the spirit of a startup with the resources of a larger company enables Viasat to be a strong option for people entering the workforce as well as those from other companies looking for new opportunities.
Listen to the podcast here.
Alex Miller: Hello and welcome to the Viasat podcast. I'm Alex Miller with Corporate Communications and today we're talking with Melinda Kimbro. Melinda is Viasat's Chief People Officer, and we're talking with her today about the Viasat employee experience. So that includes everything from the kinds of roles we're hiring to what kind of candidates we look for and what it's like to work at Viasat. So thanks for being on the podcast today, Melinda.
Melinda Kimbro: Thanks for having me.
Alex Miller: All right. Well, we can start off by asking you about some pretty exciting news related to Glassdoor. That's the online site where employees review employers. So Viasat was just named as one of Glassdoor's 2020 Best Places to Work for the very first time. So why is that an important recognition for Viasat?
Melinda Kimbro: Yes. Well, yes, it's very exciting for us. The recognition is important to us because for a long time we've been known as a best kept secret in San Diego, at least by our employees and those who know us. I think. 'Why don't more people know about Viasat? You guys have such a great thing going up here?' And once they get to know us new employees are even more surprised, you know: 'How come I didn't know about you sooner? I wish I had.' And so this recognition is an indication that word is gonna get out and that word has, in fact, gotten it out. And so that's pretty exciting. It's also recognition that's important to us because it came from our employees past and present. It wasn't something we solicited or applied for. We didn't seek to get our name on the list. And so the fact that it was something organic that came from our employees means a lot to us.
Alex Miller: Right. You know, I think a lot of people look at Glassdoor, you know, when they're looking at companies that they might apply for. So do you hear that a lot of people do look at those those ratings?
Melinda Kimbro: Most definitely. You know, I think that Glassdoor actually started out as a site that was more appealing to millennials and other college, recent college grads and and younger demographics. But I think that that's really changing. And I think that it's a source of truth, if you will, that people of a broader demographics now visit in order to gain some insight as to what it's like to actually work at a given company.
Alex Miller: Right. Yeah. And it's something that really didn't exist until, you know, not too long ago. So it's certainly gotta be a lot of help for people to get an idea of what the company is like. So if somebody does hear about Viasat, whether it's through Glassdoor or another job board and they want to apply, what advice would you give them about the application and interview process here at Viasat?
Melinda Kimbro: I think the most important advice that I could provide would be to simply be yourself. If you try to be some version that you think will be more appealing, something other than yourself, it's not going to work long term. And I think that the best experiences that anyone can have at a company, whether it's Viasat or any other company, is where it feels like a good fit. When you feel like you can be yourself and you don't have to pretend, you don't have to be another version — then it's gonna be comfortable, it's some place that you're going to want to stay. And it's some place that's going to be more than a job. And I think that those that have applied with Viasat and followed that, they find that it's a place that's comfortable — not comfortable from the standpoint of performance, as it's a challenging environment, but comfortable from the standpoint that you can be yourself. There isn't a stuffy expectation of formality here. And I think that, you know, if that's what somebody is looking for, then then we're a great spot for them.
Alex Miller: So what are the roles — some of the bigger roles that we're hiring for right now?
Melinda Kimbro: Well, we're always hiring engineers. So whether it's a DevOps engineer, systems engineer, R.F. engineer or data scientists, we're always looking for top engineers to come and join our teams. We also have roles in finance, I.T., human resources, marketing. There's there's a ton of opportunity around the company and around the globe really at this point, because we have over 5,700 employees today and they're in 26 offices in the US and 16 offices outside the US. So we're continuing to grow and we have opportunity in all of those locations.
Alex Miller: Okay, great. So what makes a candidate stand out when they're applying to Viasat? What are the teams looking for in candidates?
Melinda Kimbro: Well, first and foremost, I think we're looking for somebody who's really smart, so somebody who's going to bring the intellectual horsepower to the table. But that describes a lot of people. So beyond that, what else are we looking for? We're looking for somebody who possesses what we call learning agility, somebody who can learn quickly, who can unlearn, relearn and, you know, doesn't get stuck in the way things have been done before or the way they might have been taught. They can evolve and grow because one of the things that we take a lot of pride in is that Viasat over the 30 plus years that we've been in business, we are not the same company in the same markets that we were 30 years ago today. We've continued to evolve, which is really exciting and keeps the opportunities coming. But we want employees who want to learn and evolve with us. So if you can do that, then this is going to be a great spot for you.
Alex Miller: Is that sometimes a challenged, to identify that trait in a candidate?
Melinda Kimbro: It can be, but it's something that we've we've practiced over the years and, you know, we do our best to try to mine for different, you know, examples of how someone has learned, experiences where they've tried to learn and maybe they've failed because those are learning experiences as well. And somebody who's not afraid to talk about their failures, but what they learned from it, you know, that's a great quality in a candidate.
Alex Miller: So for someone who's maybe just starting out in their career, why should they be looking at Viasat?
Melinda Kimbro: Well, I think that by the time most companies reach our size, they've given up on their startup roots. Right. They started out as this kind of quick and nimble company that — there was a lot of flexibility and a lot of opportunity because in a startup, everybody does whatever needs to be done to get the job done right. But by the time they become a larger company, our size, they think, OK. Now it's time to get structure. We've got to grow up a little bit and we've got to get a little bit more bureaucratic and structured. And I think that we've made a really concerted effort over the years to hold on to that, because those are some of the very qualities that have contributed to our success. It's this culture where, you know, if we hire great people that we can trust and that they will thrive in this environment where there's a lot of freedom, then really great things can happen. So I think that we're appealing because of the opportunity that we provide and the freedom that's in the environment to learn and grow and move in different directions that aren't necessarily on some prescribed path that somebody else decided was the right thing for you.
Alex Miller: So, yeah, culture is a big part of what people here and talk about with Viasat and why they like the company. And so you articulated a couple of things, but when people ask you, well, what is the culture? Viasat, do you have like kind of a couple of key points that you would say?
Melinda Kimbro: Yeah. So in in addition to what I mentioned, I would also say that I mentioned that it's a it's definitely a team environment. And I mentioned that our CEO often says that, you know, it's a team sport here at Viasat, and I think it's very much true that we we win as a team. We learn as a team. And and that's a really important part of of our culture because it's important to be able to make decisions and think about what you're doing and how it impacts the team and put the the needs of the team ahead of your own when they don't line up. And that's not easy for everybody to do. Other aspects of our culture that I often discuss are the fact that we we thrive on challenge. So we're not the type of company that's going to do the same thing again and again and again. We're going to do it and then we're going to find a way to make it better. And yes, that makes it more challenging, but it's also really fun and and gratifying when you meet those challenges.
Alex Miller: Do you think that's part of the reason that people stick around for a good chunk of their career and Viasat, is that ongoing challenge in that culture?
Melinda Kimbro: Well, I think certainly for some people, it's the challenge. I think for others, it's the opportunities that they've been given or that they were able to seek out on their own. You know, in other cases, it's the fact that we are providing a lot more opportunity than they might find in other companies. And I think that sometimes when people have been in another company, what's attractive about Viasat is the fact that we are less structured and they perceive that there are going to be more opportunities here. And I think that they generally find them.
Alex Miller: So that was one of my questions I wanted to ask. If you were thinking about somebody who's maybe been in the job market for, you know, a couple of years or even a couple of decades and they come to Viasat. Is that kind of why they might land here? Is they want to get into that environment?
Melinda Kimbro: Yeah, I think it's often the appeal of something different. Right. I've been in this very structured, established, larger company. And what I'm hearing, whether it's on Glassdoor or from friends or colleagues that work at Viasat, is that it's different. It's not quite as bureaucratic or policy driven. And that's pretty appealing.
Alex Miller: So thinking about employees, you know, once they're here and they're on kind of a career trajectory, what sort of learning and development programs do we offer employees to gain new skills and grow in their jobs?
Melinda Kimbro: Oh, goodness, tons. We have everything from mentoring and buddy programs or something we call a facilitator program for engineers. We also have employee resource groups that are great learning opportunities. We also have a number of different leadership development programs for people at every stage, whether you're a first time leader, whether you are an executive or somewhere in between. And then we have a number of technical programs to help our engineers and other folks in technical roles to keep their skills sharp. And then everything from influence to presentation skills to negotiation, you name it. Education has always been a core part of the environment here at Viasat. And just to be able to have the ongoing learning available and — something that it's embraced by leaders is is really important.
Alex Miller: And, you know, since you've been in this role at Viasat for some time, you've probably been instrumental in building up a lot of that — has been a kind of a fun part of your job?
Melinda Kimbro: It's been a really fun part of my job. In fact, when I first came to Viasat, I was hired into the role of learning and development manager. So that's my roots, or background, is in learning and it's something that's still really important to me. And in fact, that's a big part of why I wanted to come to Viasat, because I could see just through the interview process based on the people that I was meeting with, it was really important to the company.
Alex Miller: So I did want to ask you. You touched on it, but I wanted to ask a little bit about when we're talking about careers. What what your career trajectory has been like at Viasat. So you started out in learning and development …
Melinda Kimbro: My my career path has been a little accidental, but I think that that's not uncommon at Viasat. As I mentioned, they came to Viasat as the learning and development manager. And then over the years when there was a need or, you know, we had a a set of responsibilities that somebody needed to take care of. I would raise my hand and say, I'll help with that. And it just resulted in my set of responsibilities getting a little bit broader and broader. And in fact, early on, someone asked me, you know, have you ever thought about heading up HR? And I said, no way. No, I'm not an H.R. I'm in learning. And so it's it's absolutely accidental that I'm in the spot that I am today. But I couldn't imagine doing this anywhere else. It's been a fantastic opportunity. And I love what I get to do and where I get to do it.
Alex Miller: Great. Well, you know, you mentioned HR, which is kind of like a I guess, kind of an almost outdated term. And so we call we call it People & Culture now. What does that mean? That that change in just nomenclature about how we describe this is part of our company?
Melinda Kimbro: Well, I think when you mentioned HR, a lot of people naturally visualize this rules-driven organization, the group within the company that's responsible for telling you what you're not allowed to do. And it's bureaucratic and administrative. And I think in some companies, people try to work around HR for those very reasons because it's going to slow down the business. And so for us, I think we've never really wanted an HR department, at least in terms of how HR was typically perceived. But we did want an organization that would help our businesses make sound decisions with regard to their people, help influence the culture in a positive way. And so that's what we tried to do, is provide our business leaders with information to make sound decisions that relate to their people and help reinforce the culture that's enabled our success for so long.
Alex Miller: Okay, that's great. Yeah, because I think a lot of people aren't you know, they hear the name change like that and like, what does that mean? You know, and it's actually there's there's some real thought behind it and it makes sense. So I mean this question I just wanted to ask. What do you think that Viasat offers that maybe other big tech companies don't?
Melinda Kimbro: I think one of the key things that we offer that you don't find a lot of companies is this tolerance for ambiguity. Oftentimes people hear that and think that it's part of our culture by mistake. Do you realize that that's on your list? Why would you have that on your list? That can't be a positive thing. And it really can. And it has implications for almost everything that we do. It has implications for how we make decisions when we make decisions. But from an employee standpoint, tolerance for ambiguity means we can have a policy that says we're going to do X, Y and Z. But if there's a situation that comes up that is unique, at Viasat,we're going to listen to the details, we're going to think critically about the situation and leave room for the possibility that we do something different. And, you know, that could be doing something for an employee that's going through a really tough time or providing reimbursement for an educational program that is slightly different than the norm. But we think that tolerating ambiguity is a real positive thing for employees. And, you know, maybe a simple way to think about it is if you go to the DMV, there's very little tolerance for ambiguity. Right. No offense to anybody at the DMV, but there's just no room for it. Right. And as a result, if if you're asking for something that's not allowed, forget it. And I think that Viasat will leave room for the possibility that situations can be different and unique. And so we want to listen. We want to think critically about the situation and then do the right thing.
Alex Miller: Well, Melinda, thanks so much for taking the time and talk with us today. And I guess congratulations on the Glassdoor recognition or congratulations to all of us here at Viasat. It's really it's it's really cool to see, you know, that that everybody feels that way about working here, so. Thanks. Thanks again for your time.
Melinda Kimbro: Absolutely. Definitely a team effort.
A company that is built around offering modern collaboration software needs to believe in the power of bringing people together.
Luckily, that's just what Quip is all about.
Their annual three-day hackathon Quiprupt is an example of what collaboration looks like not just as a product offering but also as a core tenet of company culture. We asked participants from Quiprupt 2021 to tell us about their experience coming together to ship cool stuff—and how Quip's culture sets them up to be able to find meaningful work while building better products.
Tips for planning committees on setting up the event to succeed
1, Build in intermixing from the start.
When Technical Program Manager Michael Lee volunteered to organize the hackathon, he knew he wanted to ensure that teams were of mixed compositions, with different people from around the company and not just staffed by people in the Engineering, Product, and Design (EPD) group.
"The hackathon really pushes for teams to work with other members outside of EPD," says Michael. "Everyone is welcome to work on projects they're interested in, so they get a chance to work with those they normally don't get to work with."
Event MC Meghna Purkayastha, a Growth Business Account Executive, was drawn to participate specifically because of the opportunity to connect her side of the business—sales—to the engineering teams. "Our business units have so many different ways in which we interact with our customers," she says. "Often EPD doesn't have insights into what customers are asking for or their common challenges, so it's so great to close the gap!"
2. Encourage creative ideas.
Project ideas for Quiprupt bubble up from people on the ground, explains Michael, and that's what lets people have ownership over their projects. "People are free to join and work on projects they're interested in. We hold pitch sessions and additional sessions to help teams recruit new members and answer questions about their project ideas," he says.
3. Brand it well!
Designer Kyle Tezak stepped outside of his normal day-to-day responsibilities to create an engaging theme and brand for Quiprupt 2021, and even though he was on the planning side and not on a hackathon team, he still got to plug into the collaborative spirit.
"The best part about collaborating on these projects is letting go and trusting your team," he says. "I think it's easy for designers to get possessive with projects and this is a fun, low-stakes way to experiment and pass things back and forth."
And beyond having fun, he also built something beautiful. "The work we've created gets people excited to participate," says Kyle.
His team landed on a "mid-century, retro science, research, and development theme"—not unlike the Dharma Initiative from Lost, added Michael—and produced graphic, web, and video content, including a fun promotional video for the hackathon.
Tips for engineering leaders on participating fully
4. Define project roles quickly.
When Quip Senior PM Melissa Chan was setting up her team for the hackathon, she was careful to pull from different parts of the business, in line with Michael's vision. "It's really important to get the perspective of our Sales and Go to Market (GTM) team," says Melissa, who worked with those members to "understand what customers were looking for but was currently missing in our product." She also pulled in Kevin Zhang, a friend from engineering, to serve as her tech lead, which "centralized a lot of technical decisions."
Once she had a team, Melissa quickly got them in sync on a project scope and responsibilities.
5. Construct your narrative around the customer.
Melissa's team ended up winning the Grand Prize at Quiprupt, and she credits their success to the "end-to-end" story they shared. "I knew who our customer was, what they wanted to do, and what features would help them achieve the goal," she says. "By having that narrative throughout the week, we could figure out how to descope parts of the project that were taking longer or make sure that we spent more time in areas that were critical."
"I think it's always important to keep the customer in mind and to be able to reflect on where we've fallen short of their expectations," she added.
6. Embrace remote collaboration.
Niccolò Zapponi, Senior Manager, Salesforce Anywhere Labs, who was a member of Melissa's winning team, says that they were able to work together so well because "everyone had their own remit."
"We had daily stand ups to discuss progress and priorities," he added, "and then got on with our work. Running something like a hackathon entirely remotely is definitely not easy, but we made it work and managed to keep everyone engaged throughout the week."
Tips for everyone on embracing collaboration
7. Recognize your unique strengths.
When Niccolò signed up for the team, he knew he wasn't going to be bringing in deep technical expertise. "I'm glad I could rely on the rest of the team [for that]," he says. He did know, though, that he could provide something super valuable: the customer perspective.
"My ability to understand customer needs and translate them into technology solutions is really where I shine and what I brought to the table for Quiprupt," says Niccolò.
Meghna agrees. "It truly takes a team! Each person regardless of role has a vision and idea that can help benefit a customer. All members are necessary."
8. You'll learn faster than you think.
Kyle was surprised by how quickly he was able to pick up new video editing skills as part of his branding work on the hackathon, and it's a lesson he thinks applies in general. "Learning a new skill often takes a lot less time than you'd expect. You're not going to become an expert overnight, but you can probably learn enough to accomplish a focused goal in a relatively short amount of time," he says.
9. Sign up to do more of it!
This year, Melissa participated in four different projects (!) during Quiprupt, and she plans on doing the same thing next year. "I think working across teams, solving new problems, and pitching it across the company make hackathons really fun," she says. "I think there's so many talented people with great ideas here at Quip."
While she'll go into next year confident, the capability of her coworkers is keeping her humble: "It's hard to say if we can defend the crown!"
Insight from YouGov's Victoria Ganusceac
Victoria Ganusceac knew she wanted to be a product manager, but the HR manager at the company where she was working at the time wasn't on board.
Not immediately, anyways.
"I pestered them for three months," says Victoria. "I spoke to every single product manager [in the company] and found out what kind of people they were looking for and what it took to be a good product manager." Insights from those conversations included understanding common PM frameworks and the importance of empathetic communication.
And eventually, Victoria's perseverance paid off. Her first few roles in product management set her up well for her current role as Senior Product Manager of SaaS Products at research, data, and analytics company YouGov. In non-pandemic times, Victoria works out of YouGov's London headquarters.
Her role is complicated enough that her family isn't exactly sure what she does—"Explaining it to my grandma is pretty hard, because I do so many different things!" jokes Victoria—but we sat down with Victoria and had her explain how she found her current role, what her responsibilities entail, and how she successfully manages cross-functional projects.
Learning how to move quickly
Victoria started her career in marketing, but quickly realized she wanted to be more tech-focused. Right after finishing her undergraduate degree, she got into an enterprise hub to work on a fashion app, where she did business development, then moved over to Camelot, which runs the national UK lottery, for a role in strategy.
"It was great to come up with ideas in strategy, but I really wanted to get something into users' hands," says Victoria. When her three-month campaign landed her a PM role, she leaned into the world of product management at Camelot before moving over to an influencer marketing startup where she could be even more hands-on. "I knew I had to go somewhere a bit smaller so I could really ramp up the learning curve," she explains.
When that startup failed, it hit her hard. "I took it personally for quite a while," says Victoria. But that experience helped her recognize what she was looking for in her next role: a PM job in a fast-paced environment that encouraged innovation and had the resources to support it.
"YouGov attracted me because they were a 'scale-up,' and they still are. Even though they're public. The role I interviewed for was creating a product from scratch, setting up a team from scratch, but within the safety of a funded company: the best of both worlds," she says.
Since coming over to the data analysis firm, Victoria has led several products and features through ideation, prototyping, creation, and deployment. Her first product was Audience Explorer,helping marketers understand their audiences in more detail. A recent favorite was a feature with a goal to increase conversion rates for YouGov's freemium product.
"It was a really great collaboration," says Victoria. "We worked together with marketing, the design side, the product side, and engineering to really quickly embed our data within the business website, and as a result, we increased lead generation by 300% in just a few months."
The 9 principles of PMing
Victoria's favorite part of her job is how much she learns by constantly collaborating with peers across the business. "It can feel like there's a lot going on because there's so many moving parts, but when you really start to understand how it works, there's a lot of opportunity to have impact," she says. "And YouGov really gives you opportunities to grow and get exposed to lots of different things."
To make the most of those opportunities, Victoria has a set of hard-learned lessons and best practices for successfully managing products with a diverse range of stakeholders that she applies time and time again, and that we're excited to share here.
1. Bring people together as early as possible.
Silos impede collaboration, says Victoria, so a process that is a series of direct handoffs—product requirements handed to the design team, designs handed to the development team—means "[the team] never gets a chance to really discuss it and make sure that they're solving the right problem."
Instead, she makes sure to involve her stakeholders, including engineering and design, but also sales, marketing, and client service teams to get their input on a new problem or solution as early as possible.
2. Define the problem.
"Make sure you're solving the right one," she says.
For YouGov, explains Victoria, the product vision comes from the business's five-year objectives. "We want to make sure we're aligned with the whole company," she says. "We have to ask how we achieve those big, overarching goals while also making sure that what we build is what our customers want."
3. Make room for creative ideas.
"How can we get the best ideas and get the best out of people?" That's the question Victoria asks herself before she takes on any new initiative. A good first step is asking for insight from people who are customer-facing and thus have more exposure to how customers are using the product.
And a vital approach is being curious and humble about what the best idea really is. "We all come with our own ideas and we're really keen on them, but spending a lot of time actively listening helps tremendously," she says. "Don't come with an agenda to get your idea done."
4. Don't be afraid to challenge authority.
If something doesn't make sense to Victoria, she doesn't demure and defer—she asks about it.
"If you're at the beginning of your career or lack confidence, there's a way of challenging authority without being too abrupt," she says. "The best way I've found to challenge an idea is to ask questions." Unpacking assumptions and ideas either gets everyone on the same page or leads to a better final idea, she says.
5. Use meetings sparingly.
50%. That's how much of her time Victoria spends in meetings. That's reasonable for a senior product manager, she notes, but that wouldn't be reasonable for other roles, which is why her team has recently started restructuring the meetings they run.
"We're having a think about different types of communications and flows. If there's an information meeting, can we just record it and send it out? We did a dev summit recently and it was pre-recorded with live Q&A, and that worked," she says.
6. Embrace deep work.
Victoria takes meetings on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, but her Thursdays and Fridays are bare beyond a quick stand-up. That's because she saves that time for uninterrupted problem solving and creative work.
"I try to get at least a day and a half where I have solid blocks of three, four hours to really get my head down and get things done," she says.
7. Keep learning.
There are plenty of product management frameworks, tools, and software out there, says Victoria, so don't be afraid to keep looking up new ones to try. She's a particular fan of Miro, an online collaboration tool, and the ICE—impact, confidence, ease for prioritization—framework, along with standard product tools for prototyping and remote user testing like Marvel.
8. Learn how to say no.
"Cross-functionality is the heart of everything, which means we get so many different ideas. And we have to translate them into decisions, into what goes in and what doesn't. There's a lot of expectations, deadlines, and challenges. You have to be comfortable with saying no," she says.
9. "Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it."
Victoria's final piece of advice for product managers? If you want to get into or stay in the field, don't give up.
"Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it because at the end of the day, the landscape has changed in what an engineer looks like, or maybe acts like, or what a product manager looks or acts like; it's very different now," says Victoria. That means there's room for plenty of interpretation of what a great PM really is—though Victoria's example is certainly a great one to start with.
If you've been paying attention to the news recently, you likely have noticed a sharp rise in Anti-Asian racism. Members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities have been vocal in bringing awareness to the heightened racial discrimination they have faced since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in some cases, have had tragic consequences.
If you are not a member of the Asian-American community, you might feel powerless– as if you have no say in the matter. It's easy to believe that your actions aren't effective and cannot lend support to your colleagues and friends from the Asian-American community. But that is not the case– in reality, there are a number of actions you can take against Asian hate that can have real impact, in both your professional and personal life.
Acknowledge the problem
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, you should recognize that anti-Asian discrimination is a real problem, and that its effects are on par with some of the more visible forms of racism in America. There is a long history of anti-Asian discrimination in the US, dating back more than a century, and this has recently been heightened by the irresponsible comments of some politicians.
Nevertheless, many people are still in denial. Some commentators– even in the mainstream media– continue to perpetrate the Model Minority Myth, which points to the fact that Asian-Americans are wealthier than other minorities, and use it as evidence that they do not experience racism. Further, when businesses focus on diversifying their customer base, they often make the same kind of assumption– that in order to appeal to Asian-Americans, they must target a number of dated and dangerous stereotypes. Perhaps the biggest stereotype that Asian-Americans must contend with is the idea that they are inherently foreign and not American.
The reality is that anti-Asian discrimination is very real. Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition documenting and addressing anti-Asian discrimination during the pandemic, has recently released sobering reports on discrimination and hate in the community. The organization said it received 3,795 self reports of anti-Asian hate incidents between March 2020 and March 2021. Women are more likely to be targeted and accounted for 68% of the reports, versus 29% for men.
Recognizing and combating anti-Asian racism is a key part of spreading and practicing anti-racism.
Check in and offer support
One of the simplest, and yet most effective, ways of combating anti-Asian discrimination is checking in with colleagues and friends who might be experiencing it. Showing that you are aware of what is happening in the news and showing your support for anti-racism campaigns can help your Asian-American colleagues feel supported and empowered.
This does not mean, however, that you should identify all of the Asian-Americans in your workplace and send them an email about the latest instance of anti-Asian discrimination. Similarly, asking colleagues open-ended questions such as "how are you feeling?" or "is there anything I can do for you?" can create more stress, because the person you are asking can feel unwarranted pressure to respond.
Instead, take a look at some of the materials on how to promote inclusion in the workplace. Most guides to creating a truly open and inclusive workplace stress that it's important that staff– of all ethnic and racial backgrounds and groups– be regularly educated about the impact of discrimination in the workplace around all minorities, Asian-Americans included. Often, the best thing you can do is to spend some time reading about the subject or enroll in a course that will help you understand these complex issues.
If you are a manager, you can take this one step further, and make sure that all of your employees are aware of these issues surrounding racism and discrimination.
If you are ready to take more direct action, a good place to start is your workplace. Stop AAPI Hate, in the aforementioned report, found that, in the last year, workplaces have been the primary sites of discrimination, accounting for 35.4% of logged hate incidents; 25.3% of reported incidents took place in public streets, followed by 9.8% that occurred in public parks.
First and foremost, this highlights the importance of reporting any anti-Asian incidents through the channels available to you, and making sure they are followed up by your employer. In order to do this, it can be helpful to review the literature on the differences between "incidents of bias" and "hate crimes". Knowing the nomenclature, and how to express yourself clearly, can make all the difference when it comes to reporting racially fueled incidents.
Depending on the industry you work in, it might also be possible to look at some systemic issues. Most industries exhibit some form of bias when it comes to hiring practices, and some are particularly reticent when hiring Asian-Americans. Even where this group is over-represented, in the Fintech industry for example, diversity issues remain, such as the fact that Fintech lags behind in female representation, and this disproportionately affects Asian-American women.
If you are in a position where you are hiring staff, it is therefore possible to shepherd your industry in the right direction by putting monitoring and direct action tools in place to improve the racial and gender mix in your own organization.
Donate to the cause
Another great way to help Asian-American communities is to donate to organizations that directly support them. This is a fast and simple way to make a real difference, and there are many ways to do it– this list from New York magazine shares more than sixty ways to donate in support of Asian communities.
Many of these groups are focused on advocacy for Asian-Americans, and will help those directly impacted by discrimination. In recent years, given the trends in the types of discrimination the community faces, there has also been a focus on supporting women within the Asian-American community. If you feel the same, organizations such as the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum can be a good place to get information on further ways you can help.
It's not necessary to make a charitable donation to support the community– supporting business run or owned by Asian-Americans can also make a huge difference. Multiple research studies have shown that, nationwide, Chinatown businesses have been hit disproportionately hard during the pandemic– between decreased foot traffic and rising xenophobia, they are greatly suffering. So the next time you go grocery shopping, consider passing through your local Asian supermarket.
Look to the future
Ultimately, building racial justice in America is not going to happen overnight. Instead, it will require sustained work by many communities and individuals. The first step is to recognize the problem and to seek more information about it.
That's why civil rights activist and Rise founder Amanda Nguyen has argued that greater education about the experiences of Asians in America is crucial to bridging the gaps to end anti-Asian racism.
Nguyen has said that, often the most effective step in combating racism is to start from home. "Turn on your computer and find out more information about the AAPI community and listen to the grassroots organizers on the ground," she says, and you'll be taking this important first step.
Experience is the greatest teacher, and the experience of being a mom is particularly chock-full of learning opportunities.
We know from the examples set by our coworkers and friends just how good moms are at juggling competing responsibilities and priorities. ("If you want to make sure something gets done, give it to a busy person" would be even more accurate if it was changed to "give it to a working mom.")
So this Mother's Day, we decided to ask working moms at our partner companies about the secret sauce that connects parenting experience to being better and happier at work.
We're so excited to share what 66 mothers told us they've learned through being a mom that has helped them be more productive and fulfilled at work.
1. Enjoy thicker skin and resiliency.
"Before my son, Lucas, was born, I used to be totally emotional about everything that involved my work, taking things too seriously with a lot of susceptibilities and not enough hindsight. I was at 100% with everything and this was too intense. Becoming a mom has allowed me to put things into perspective. Today I have thicker skin––I'm more resilient and much less susceptible to stress. I am more fulfilled, having put my family life at the forefront, and my son has given new energy to my career and a better way to interpret challenges, feedback, and ways to support my growth."
–Magalie Blanchet, Executive Assistant Business Partner and EMEA Co-Chair and Global Lead for Benefits and Programs of Uber's Parents@ ERG, Uber
"As a mother of two, I've become more resilient. I can handle quick change or last minute plans; I can get on board for an assignment–stress free–with a mindset to jump in and just get the job done. My children keep me motivated. I've taken advantage of what the NBA has to offer (which is a ton); my current favorite is the Career 101 Development course. Being motivated in a new way since my daughters' births has really sparked a new light in my life to learn more and do more. I want to say I've become more compassionate as well. We all have hard days (my child can have a meltdown around putting on pants), so I like to give all my coworkers and colleagues the benefit of the doubt. I can always guarantee I'll have a positive attitude no matter what is going on in the background of my life!"
–Madisyn Wallace, Corporate Services Coordinator, NBA, NY
2. Recognize that what you're doing is enough.
"The best advice that helped me recalibrate what was possible was when someone told me, 'You are doing the best you can and that is enough.' We often put these unrealistic expectations onto ourselves—especially as working parents—to be both perfect at work and home, and not let one suffer due to the other, often at our own expense. I realized that I was so busy trying to make everything perfect and right myself, I was missing out on the important things. When I started letting people help me, saying specifically what help I needed, letting things go that didn't make a huge impact, my stress level decreased and grace for myself increased. I was able to focus and prioritize on the things that matter and not feel stretched too thin."
–Jennifer Westropp, Head of Global Talent Development and Performance, Relativity, Chicago, IL
"I now understand and realize that doing my very best was and is enough—both as a mom and as a full-time worker. This has helped me accept that not every day will be perfect—some days you'll need to bring your baby to a meeting because he won't nap, and some mornings he'll wake up with a cold and you'll have to clear your day. Some days you'll be hit with last-minute deadlines, and you may have to miss bedtime. At the end of the day, you're doing your best, and it is enough."
–Sophia Ferderer, Senior Brand Marketing Strategist, 2U, Gaithersburg, MD
"After becoming a mom, I learned how to say both yes and no more often. I learned to accept the support and help offered by family and friends. I also learned how to turn down extra opportunities that were not necessary to my job or home life. Being a working mom is a balancing act, but we can learn to prioritize ourselves by not trying to be a 'supermom.'"
–Rachel Guzman, Onboarding Coordinator, Pluralsight, Utah
3. Lead and listen with empathy.
"Becoming a parent has certainly changed me. I'm not saying I'm better at what I do because I'm a mum, but my experience of being a parent has changed my own working style. I have more empathy and tend to step back and think more deeply about what others need from me and their team in order to succeed. I mentor several people, both within ServiceNow and externally, and I love working with people to help them identify and grab hold of their potential."
–Shakira T., Sales Director, ServiceNow, Staines, UK
"Being a mom trained me to be a better listener. I have to really pay attention to what the little ones have to say, be empathetic about their feelings, and help them understand what they want."
–Jesse Zhang, Director, Credit, Afterpay, San Francisco, CA
"I've recognized the power of observation. My little boy is only eight months old and he can't yet use words to communicate. The whole journey up until now has really forced me to become more observant and learn to pick up non-verbal cues and develop not only a more acute sense of observation, but a higher degree of natural empathy. As someone in a sales role, this new honed skillset has really allowed me to be a better observer in sales meetings and to better perceive and understand a clients' real needs and motives."
–Qing Liu, Director, Head of Government & Education – APAC and Middle East, Moody's, Sydney
"There are so many things I learned being a mom that apply at work. My kids often remind me: tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember, involve me and I'll understand."
–Haiyan Chen, Staff Software Development Engineer, OfferUp, Bellevue, WA
"In my role, I help different departments with a variety of tasks. Becoming a mom has made me great at multitasking so I'm able to balance everything I need to get done. I've also become more sympathetic. If a customer is having a bad day or they're frustrated, maybe they've forgotten a piece of paperwork, I completely understand. Especially if they're a fellow parent."
–Corrine Echeverria, Member Experience Associate, AAA, Menlo Park, CA
"Something I have learned after becoming a mom that makes me more productive and fulfilled at work is that everyone is so unique. My kids who share DNA couldn't be more different in how they see and respond to the world around them. It takes a completely different approach to parenting them successfully. One child that is full of competition needs to be continually redirected to compete with himself not everyone around him, another that's very tender hearted needs time to communicate emotions when he's ready, while another (I have 5) is so achievement and fast-action-based that for her to feel heard and empowered I have to let her drive conversations as much as possible to lead her to making the right decision and not make it for her. This applies every day at work, every day. As obvious as it sounds, no two people are the same at the office and their needs vary. My kids have taught me to have an individualized approach with them and at the office and that has changed the dynamic of my working relationships and helping others achieve the dreams and goals they have and meeting them where they are fills my bucket and brings me satisfaction."
–Jen McGee, Director of Training and Development, Rise Buildings by VTS, Chicago, IL
4. Lean on your network.
"I've learned about the necessity of a good support system. When 'mom guilt' hits, it's hard to focus and be productive at work. But when you're able to identify and lean on a support system, you're able to feel productive and fulfilled as both a mom and employee."
–Jody-Ann Parkinson, Sr. HR Operations Administrator, NBA, NJ
"Being a mom has taught me to choose my village wisely. Take care to select the right schools and caregivers available to you so you don't have to worry about your children while you are working."
–Andrea Shook, Underwriting Senior at Freddie Mac, Georgia
"I am a single mom of a 5-going-on-17-year-old. As many families have experienced this year, it's been terrible. I work full time, managing all household activities and fur babies, and was trying to be as good mom, sister, daughter, girlfriend, and friend. Being honest about what was going on in my house allowed others to open up and do the same. We were able to laugh, cry and be angry all together. At the end of either a conversation or parking lot meeting (socially distanced), we all felt better. Knowing we were not alone and having someone there to talk to was for me my sanity through a tough year. Use your network and be honest with what is going on with you, you will find you are not alone."
–Kaley Young, Female Diversity Program Manager, Raytheon Technologies, McKinney, TX
"I feel that communication at workplace is one of most important aspects of one's job, and even more so in the Pandemic-era. As a working mom from home, I feel there are many times when I can't stay online 100% of the time but have established trust with my client manager that I will get the work done and one of the habits that makes me feel productive is ensuring that I follow a practice like setting up 30 minutes every Monday with my client to go over high priority items that we wanted to accomplish in a week. This ritual has ensured my work and efforts were aligned to client's expectations and we wrap up the week on a productive note."
- Kriti Gujral-Dhawan, Senior Consultant, Capco, New York
5. Be an example to other working women.
"Being a mom has helped me even get more efficient in order to ensure I have the time with my daughter, my husband, and myself each week. I have more patience in some areas and less in others, things don't feel as heavy or stressful at work when in perspective to my family (I feel lighter!), and I have come to appreciate even more all working parents, regardless of gender, and their daily juggling act. I also feel a need to model flexibility for all the working moms watching me in my executive role. We need to support women in the workforce at this moment especially, as we are seeing more and more women drop out of the workforce during the pandemic due to not having the flexibility or having to carry the bulk of the caregiving responsibilities."
–Caroline Kidston, Chief People Officer, Surescripts LLC
6. Create more space for learning and failure.
"I have a whole new level of patience and outlook on failing. Having kids, especially two (four-year-old & almost-two-year-old girls) that are strong-willed, independent and ready to conquer the world has given me a whole new view and approach to patience and learning from failures. As they refuse help when getting food from the pantry and spill an entire box of cereal on the floor, I find myself laughing more and grateful that they are so determined to at least try. And while they might fail, they are failing forward and constantly learning. This philosophy has followed me into work. I give myself and my team much more grace than I did prior to having kids. It might take 2-3 times to get it right, or make a manager happy; but each time, we're learning, adapting and moving forward."
–Lori Armstrong, Associate Director, Talent Acquisition, Collins Aerospace, SC
"One day I was sitting at the table coloring with my kids when my son started crying because his blue crayon went outside of the lines. I told him that 'perfect is not fun', and that we need to accept our mistakes and move on. It has now become one of our family mantras when someone is agonizing over a mistake that we cannot change. One day I realized I should be applying this to myself as well, both at work and at home. I allow myself the room to make mistakes and not be afraid to push things forward without knowing if it is exactly right."
–Jennifer Weaver, Director, Study Operations, CSL Behring, Pennsylvania
"After becoming a mom, our priority becomes teaching our children to be the best humans they can be. Specifically, we teach them to be their true, authentic selves, to be kind, and to learn to roll with the punches. Most importantly, we teach them that it's not about falling and skinning a knee, it's about getting up and brushing it off. With teaching those things daily, you realize having the same mentality within the workplace is what sets you up for success. Being kind to coworkers, making mistakes and learning from them, moving forward when things get tough – it brings you a sense of fulfillment and certainly promotes productivity."
–Erica West, Senior Recruiter, Collins Aerospace, Chicago, IL
7. Keep in mind that it’s okay to ask for help.
"Each day is a new opportunity to do your best – and asking for help is not a sign of weakness!"
–Marisa Taylor, Head of Salesforce Architecture, S&P Global, Virginia
"As a married, full-time working mother of 2 young children, I work 40+ hours a week and handle all school and extracurricular responsibilities, play the role of chef, housekeeper, gardener, pet handler, teacher, and more. Within the last year, I realized something had to give. Where was I in all of this? I was exhausted, stressed, and emotionally drained. To my surprise, the hardest thing for me was to ask for help. My husband and I started splitting everything up to alleviate what felt like the weight of the world coming down on me daily. Simply asking for help and knowing it was perfectly normal to do so was one of the biggest life-changing behaviors I could have done. I am a better wife, mother, and I have never been happier with my career."
–Tiffany LeBrun, Sr. Talent Acquisition Manager, Raytheon Technologies, Parker, CO
8. But don’t apologize for your family boundaries.
"Working in Talent & Engagement, I've always felt that the most impactful thing I can do is strive to bring my fullest self to work while creating spaces and building relationships that invite others to do the same. Being a working mom has made me more committed to this. When I came back from my own maternity leave, I made it a point to never apologize for being a parent. For example, you won't catch me saying 'Sorry, I have to leave early, I have to take my kid to an appointment." I will thank people for understanding and thank them for their flexibility, but I will not gesture an ask for forgiveness for having a life outside that demands my care and attention. Bringing this mindfulness to how I express who I am in the context of my professional life has worked wonders for my own feelings of purpose and connection at work."
–Diana Keith, Talent & Learning Lead, NBA, NY
"The one thing I learned that has helped me is 'it's all about perspective.' I needed to be less apologetic. I am a recruiter and a mom so sometimes the two need to overlap. At first, I got very overwhelmed if I heard my baby cry or if both kids were home and I was trying to work but I shifted my perspective to think, 'how lucky I am to always be close to my kids and pop down when I have a few moments to see them!' Folks are so much more understanding now and in fact, it's been a great icebreaker for me so many times."
–Anne Krechmer, Sr. Recruiter, Elastic, NY, NY
9. When you're with your kids, be with your kids.
"Children need quality time with you. Now, more than ever. Everything is harder for them also. When you are with them, be with them. Close your computer, don't look at the phone, don't open the door of '...let me reply to this email quickly …' This door never shuts. The small ones cannot give you this feedback directly, but they feel it. Watch out for this!"
–Ana Suarez, Engineering Manager, SoundCloud, Berlin
"Before I became a mom, I would mentally take work home with me: rehash my day, question what I did, worry about the next day. After becoming a mom, I learned to compartmentalize my roles and live in the role I am in at any given point of the day: when I'm working, I'm an employee (it helped that I had a great daycare provider when my kids were young), and when I'm at home, I'm a mom, spouse, etc. Its easier said than done, and it took me a long time to get this right, but after 12 years, I feel I am in a great space with this concept and embrace the role I am in at any given time of the day. Roles do blur, especially in a pandemic where school comes home, and mom/employee roles cross over, but working at a great place like PagerDuty allows me to 'roll with it' so to speak, and continue to strive to be the best Dutonian I can be."
–Laura Mayberry, Sr Manager, Engineering Business Operations, PagerDuty, Toronto, Ontario
"Being a new working mom has taught me how to be more present and intentional with my time. My daughter is in daycare full time, so I treasure the time I have with her in the evenings. If it's a busy work day (which it often is) I will only have about two hours of the day to spend with her between the end of my work day and before her bedtime. I will turn off the TV, shut down my computer, and put my phone away in order to give her my full attention for those few hours. This makes me fully present in spending time with her which is rewarding for both of us. I feel more fulfilled after those two hours of uninterrupted time than I do after a whole day of multitasking with her around. When applying this mentality to my work day, I have found that if I multi-task less in meetings and try to be intentional with my time, I feel more satisfied with my day."
- Katherine Jenks, Senior Consultant, Capco, Cleveland
10. See your career is a place to reconnect with your pre-parent self.
"Becoming a mom has changed me deeply in the best ways. But sometimes I miss the 'old' me, and I've learned that my career is a place where I can still see that familiar version of myself. Being a writer helps me continue to engage and grow my own intellect and interests, alongside my kids', and that makes me a more well-rounded, confident and adventurous mother."
–Samantha Bock, Editor of The Relativity Blog, Relativity, Madison, WI
"After having twin boys in October 2020, I was definitely ready to go back to work after my maternity leave. My career was a big part of my life prior to having babies, and it still is. I have learned to reserve certain hours of the day for my boys and my family, putting my phone away and not checking emails during that time. As my boys grow and see me working hard to be successful in my career, I HOPE they are proud of me and learn the importance of having a good work ethic too."
–Allie Zerbe, Director, Americas Channel Marketing, Netskope, Wichita, KS
"A powerful way to harness energy and motivation is to flip your excuses around and to turn them into your reasons. When I came back to work, I used my son as a reason to work hard and further the success of my career and did not view motherhood as a barrier for progressing my career. I love working and don't see myself ever leaving my job to work as a stay-at-home mom. I admire those that do want that, but I just never felt that urge when I came back from leave. I came back to work with an excitement and tenacity to work hard and make my work hours as productive as possible so that when I went home, I knew I gave it my all and could now focus my energy on my family. You can apply this same logic in a variety of ways. Instead of saying I don't have time to work out because I have a toddler, I say I work out because I am the mom of a toddler and need the energy to keep up with him. I try to remember this whenever I hear myself making excuses for why I can't do something."
–Kim Menapace, Senior Product Manager, CarGurus
11. Share your work with your kids.
"Probably the most important (and hardest) thing I had to learn is understanding what truly mattered to me the most at work and home and letting everything else take a back seat. I have also tried sharing aspects of my work life with my son from the time he was little, so it wasn't some nebulous, esoteric thing. I used to travel internationally a lot and I would leave notes for his lunches with trivia questions about the places where I was going so he felt included and not just left at home. When opportunities presented themselves, I would introduce him to my colleagues, so he knew who I was spending time with when I was at the office or away on business."
–Pamela Schneider, VP Warranty, Clyde, Chicago, IL
"Embrace your child and let them into your world. We allow our two year old daughter to come give me a hug whenever she chooses—and of course that comes with homemade gifts and many hellos for those on a call with me! A mere 30 seconds every few hours makes her feel valued and appreciated, while putting a smile on my face and extending my motivation for the next task. Taking the mystery out of why I'm behind a locked door and embracing her curiosity has created many amazing impromptu memories, and I wouldn't trade them for the world."
–Kara Seymour, Head of Customer Support, Hopin, Missouri
"After my husband and I became parents to our two sons, I quickly realized how much responsibility I had for them, not only financially so I could provide for them, but also as a role model. Seeing the importance of choosing a career that inspires you and that you are passionate about, and waking up every day with a feeling of purpose, is very rewarding. I have always been open about my work experiences at CSL Plasma with my children. I have shared both the good experiences and the challenges with them as learning opportunities. I've shared my personal relationships that I have with many patients that depend on us every day. As I reflect, both of our sons have had successful journeys. With our sons, we have two beautiful daughters in-law and five grandchildren. Now it is time for us to move on to ensuring each of our beautiful grandchildren also has a successful journey."
–Michelle Meyer, Division Director at CSL Plasma, Florida
"Being a working mom is a beautiful thing. Our children are watching everything we do. I get to show my daughter every day what it feels like to be passionate about my professional work and my home life. Don't ever shy away from demonstrating that passion for both—it's what makes us whole, healthy, vibrant humans and real role models for our kids."
–Theresa Dumais, Vice President, Government and Industry Relations at Freddie Mac, Maryland
12. Remember your perspective is diversifying and valuable.
"Embrace being a working mother, you bring a diverse perspective to the workforce! It's okay to disconnect from work and create the flexibility to attend your child(ren)'s soccer game, award ceremony, field trip, et cetera."
–Angelica Ruiz, Sr. Manager Talent Attraction and Candidate Engagement, Raytheon Technologies, El Segundo, CA
13. Set schedules and boundaries.
"After becoming a mother, the most significant thing that I learned is the importance of balancing my career and personal life. Prior to becoming a parent, work consumed me, which meant that I rarely set boundaries to separate family and work. Although I still have areas of opportunity, I've now become more thoughtful about prioritizing and being present for special moments such as going to the park, eating dinner as a family, dropping and picking my son up from school, etc., which has led to me being more efficient and productive at work. I would love to say that I have perfected work-life-balance as a working mother, but I haven't; I can say that I have developed a structure that makes me feel fulfilled both personally and professionally."
–Latisha Kimber, Head of Digital Engagement, S&P Global, Washington, DC
"Being a new mom has certainly been an adjustment personally and professionally. As I embark on this journey, I quickly learned that multitasking has led to less productive work on both ends. During the pandemic, I loved going downstairs to check on the baby whenever a meeting ended, which was distracting and made me have to work late catching up. What helped was disciplining myself, and resisting the urge to go downstairs. I got all my work done before 5:30 p.m. This way, I would close my laptop and not look at anything work-related after hours, and dedicate that time bonding with my newborn. This change has helped me feel productive and produce more quality work while being an involved mother."
–Rakhee Gupta, Technical Recruiting Manager, SeatGeek, NYC
"As a new mom navigating motherhood, during a pandemic at that… it was, and can still be, challenging to balance your professional life with being a mom. I wanted to spend some quality time with my baby during the day to ease the mom guilt. I learned that defining boundaries is something that has been instrumental in finding balance. For me, it helped to carve out an hour during the work day to put her down for a nap, feed her etc. This helps me feel present as a mom and in turn helps me be a better colleague because it also makes me more present at work. Having clear communication with your team and family and speaking openly about what you need is important."
–Ivette Assis, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, Business, VTS, New York, NY
"As parents we need to advocate for ourselves and manage our boundaries. I block every weekday evening from 7-9 p.m. to do dinner and bedtime with my young children. It's tough to tear yourself away at a fast-growing startup when there are important meetings and lots to do, but the littles help me keep perspective and remind me that I need to enjoy all the little moments with them. I'm lucky that working from home gives me the flexibility to do that. We also need to be kind to ourselves as parents. Don't waste your precious time feeling guilty at work for not doing enough or at home for not doing —you're doing just the right amount (and probably too much) and it's all fine."
–Lily Chang, Chief of Staff, Hopin, London, UK
"I split my work hours into several categories—meeting hours, focus time, etc—and also leverage some softwares to help organize meetings."
–Qiansha Ding, Senior Manager, Fraud Risk, Afterpay, San Francisco
"One thing I have learned is setting nonnegotiable boundaries and learning to prioritize. I start my day early, that way all meetings can begin at 8- 8:30 am and my day wraps up at 4:30 pm. This way I know I can pick up my son from daycare and spend dinner, bath, and bedtime with him. If something is urgent, I can always work on that after bedtime at 7 pm. I am also sure to have clear discussions with my lead and clients to ensure I know which tasks are critical and what deadlines/timelines we are working with, so there is no confusion. This way I get my work done and get to spend time with son!"
- Alyssa Simpson, Senior Consultant, Capco, Washington DC
14. Make time for yourself.
"I had a traumatic pregnancy which amplified the challenges I faced as a mom, post-birth. The first year I was lost, broken, and really questioned my sense of self. The biggest lesson for me was adjusting my mindset and accepting the daunting role of motherhood. I still am pretty bad at prioritizing my own wellbeing but I try to find opportunities to unwind in the middle of chores, childcare, and work! For example, I love books and now my child and I read a ton of books and enjoy the shared time together. At work, I have learnt to say NO and really measure the impact of the work I am doing so I can do the best work in the limited time I have. I force myself to acknowledge my feelings now. Feeling sluggish? I take a break from screens. Feeling exhausted? I take a half day off. Instead of waiting for that coveted vacation, I try to fit in 'mental breaks' wherever I can."
–Manju Vijayakumar, Software Engineer, Quip/Salesforce, SF Bay Area
"My worth is not defined by how productive I am, how many meetings I make, or how clean my house is. I remind myself that I am worthy just as I am, which helps me find balance. Being present with my family, active in my community, and engaged at work is demanding. I am worthy of time for myself, work breaks, and exercise!"
–Marissa Bowman, Enterprise Customer Success Manager, Quip/Salesforce, SF Bay Area
"I learned quickly that time to decompress after work is a must for me, even if it's only for 15-30 minutes. I use the time to process the day and prep for the next. This allows me to close out my work day and give my son the undivided attention he deserves."
–Lee Ann Mangels, Senior Director, Program Management, Clyde, Baltimore, Maryland
15. Define roles at work and at home.
"One thing that I've learned after becoming a mom is that it really does take a village, and to be productive and not feel burnt out, we need to divide and conquer. For example, my husband does school drop off, playtime after school, and bath time. I handle breakfast and getting our son ready for school, school pick up, making dinner, and getting him dressed for bed after bath. We each understand our role and our son has a routine and consistency he can count on. It's the same way at work. By dividing responsibilities, as a team we can all be more productive."
–Kim-Mai Underwood, Senior Field Marketing Manager, PagerDuty, Bay Area, California
"Right before the birth of my first child, my husband and I made the decision to become a one-income family. One of us would stay home to care for our infant son. After a lot of discussion, it was my husband that would be the stay-at-home parent. Even after our second child was born, he continued to stay home. It came with a lot of sacrifices for both of us. It also came with some role reversal stereotypes. What I learned is that he spent his day being there for our kids. He would take them to play groups and other activities. I think if our roles were reversed, I would be doing household chores like my mother, and spending less quality time with our children. Knowing my husband was holding down the fort also gave me the confidence and peace of mind to advance my career. I had the flexibility to work late, take on extra assignments and travel globally. It also taught me how to be more structured so I could be there for my kids' doctor appointments and school events."
–Lynette Hodgden, Global Head, Environment, Health, Safety & Business Resilience, CSL Behring, Pennsylvania
16. Restack your priorities.
"It's tempting to hide my 'mom' identity at work, but I've come to embrace how I can use the same skill sets in both worlds. I think being a Product Manager/Mom means that I've learned how to focus on what is important for this next season or planning cycle. It's OK to say no and deprioritize things, because you can prioritize them for later or figure out how to delegate. For example, at work, I may say 'no' to a high-priority project because there's a bigger initiative to tackle right now. At home, it's tempting to want to do ALL the activities just like other moms, but I can tell myself, 'We don't have to enroll our kid in swim lessons right now, let's wait until it fits in our schedule.'"
–Melissa Chan, Product Manager, Quip/Salesforce, SF Bay Area
"I started following Michael Hyatt and implemented the 'Big 3' planning system: 3 big goals for the quarter, 3 goals for the week, and 3 priorities for each day. Those 3 daily priorities have to encompass what must be completed that day. Sometimes it's all work things, some days it's a mix of personal and work things. Knowing that I've completed my 'Big 3' helps me shut it off at the end of the day, and not worry about what else I should be doing workwise."
–Pia Adolphsen, Product Manager, CallRail, Atlanta, GA
"The one thing I have learned as a mom is the importance of priorities. I own and drive the top three things I value the most, the rest is delegated at various degrees."
–Amudha Irudayam, Sr. Technical Program Manager, OfferUp, Bellevue, WA
"I've learned to say no because taking on too much means I might not be able to deliver in the ways that I would like to."
–Anne Salgado, Senior Manager, Customer Care, LogMeIn, California
"After becoming a mom, I had to more ruthlessly prioritize at work because I wasn't able to work the same kind of hours that I used to be able to. Instead of saying yes to everything, I had to learn to have uncomfortable conversations about what I wouldn't be able to take on. I try to block time in my calendar each day for focused time that I can get work done, because I know I have to switch gears at the end of the day for family dinner, bath, story time, and bedtime. I try to remember that the work I am doing is in service to my family and keep them as my North Star."
–Chelsea, Events Manager, Global Employer Brand, Uber, Boise, IH
"Being a mom of 18-month-old twins with a full-time job, I've learned to prioritize well. When I'm at work, I'm all in, as I know I have limited time to get everything done, so it causes me to really prioritize what I really need to get done. This, in turn, makes me more efficient."
–Ritika Jain, Technical Recruiter, Autodesk, Bay Area, CA
"I've learned how to organize my day better. I am at my max every day with work and being a mom, but being able to organize my day and prioritize what is important to get done has helped me get more done during working hours, and that means I get to spend more time with my son."
–Nicole Woods Steven, Concierge Manager, OfferUp, Bellevue, WA
"I have learned how to prioritize my time better. I had no problem staying at work late before I had kids. After I had my first child, I had to leave work at a certain time for daycare pickup and I didn't want to spend the little time I had with my daughter worrying about finishing a presentation for the next day. Being aware of that helped me be more focused and productive during the day, knowing these efforts during the day meant I would have more time and nothing else on my mind for evening games and snuggles."
–Pascaline Broyer, Director, Consumer Retention, CarGurus
"Being a mum has meant that I have to learn how to prioritize properly. I believe this has helped me be more productive and fulfilled because I have to make bold decisions on where to focus my time based on how I and my team can have the most impact for Moody's business; I have to empower others to ensure that my team meets business needs; and since being a mother forces me to switch off, I find I am clearer in my decisions and actions when I switch back on."
–Julia Thomas, Managing Director, Events, Moody's, London
17. Kick that procrastination habit.
"After I had my first child, I shifted the way I looked at my job. I asked, 'Is my work providing meaning and fulfillment in a way that made it worth taking time away from my son?' That gave me the confidence to take on different projects, stand up for myself and step out of my comfort zone. I also learned to prioritize and not procrastinate on an entirely different level due to daycare drop off and pick up times. Those late fee charges are expensive!"
–Anne Connolly, Director, HR Business Partner, LogMeIn, California
"The most important thing I learned was to make short pockets of time more productive and to set transparent expectations with your manager. Prioritizing the ONE frog you need to swallow today and devoting a 25-minute work block towards that priority task has helped me immensely. Also, remember to lift yourself up by acknowledging your hard work and getting that one thing done!"
–Aolai Kim, APAC Operations Senior Manager at Bumble, Australia
"Taking the time to plan, prioritize, and organize is the only way I can stay on track. I start each day defining my must do(s): no more than three, and realistic, given my day's schedule. As much as I am tempted, I do not let myself do other, easier things, and I turn off notifications during my focus times. For me, motivation is fleeting. I need habits I can rely on. Getting my top to do(s) done means I can be in the moment with kids later on in the day without the guilt of 'I should be working.'"
–Stacey Chase, Team Lead Internal Audit, Siemens, Houston, TX
"One of the biggest things becoming a mom has taught me is time management. It is incredibly important to me that I get as much time as possible with my daughter, and my drive to do this has allowed me to be much more effective with my time when working. On the days when work is difficult, what keeps me going is knowing that I am doing it to support my daughter and teach her the importance of supporting herself and having a good work ethic. Surprisingly, many of the things that I never wanted to do have now all become easy tasks!"
–Sinead Mcniel, Enterprise Territory Management Specialist, MongoDB, Austin, TX
"Becoming a mom, I just learned how to get focused more quickly. I tell myself, 'I have this time and I need to be more intentional with it. I'm setting a timer and I need to accomplish the task within the time frame.' Naturally, I can be really Type A. That can lead to some challenges considering all the unplanned things of motherhood. It's made me more flexible as a person—in and outside of work—whenever you can't do that, when things go wrong at work - I'm learning to be better at accepting and shifting plans."
–Chelsea Michaels, Talent Development Manager, CallRail, Atlanta, GA
18. Tighten up your schedule and make special plans.
"Being a mom helps me with work by being more organized and understanding the importance behind scheduling. Because my kids are in such different age groups, there's always something going on. The method of scheduling out activities for the kids is just as important as scheduling out things for work. I've become more intentional in how I schedule and prioritize meetings, children's activities, and true focus time. Daily scheduling is a must and better helps with being more productive instead of being all over the place."
–Tameka Hughes, Senior Customer Success Manager, CallRail, Atlanta, GA
"Keeping up with 3 young boys (8, 10, 13 years old) and a demanding job keeps my life busy and challenging, but also interesting. To keep up, I prioritize my life around the 3 things that are most important to me: family, work, and staying fit, and I arrange time differently on weekdays and weekends. Work takes priority during weekdays and family is the priority on the weekends. During the weekdays, I arrange after school activities around my work schedule. For family time, we take a weekend getaway trip every month: snowboarding in winter and camping in spring to fall. On the weekends that we're around the house, we work on house chores together and spend a couple of hours going out for a short biking or hiking trip. In order to stay fit, I try to combine my exercise with family time as much as possible."
–Vikki Wei, Director, Engineering, Netskope, Santa Clara, CA
"When my first child was born, it was a struggle to 'turn off' work and 'turn on' being a mom—but that's exactly what I needed to do. I had to become a master scheduler, forcing myself to dedicate 100% of a certain period of time to work and 100% of a certain period of time to being a mom. Doing this helped so that there wasn't always a nagging of worrying about what I'm not doing at the moment. In order to have 100% work time, you have to have someone you trust caring for your child so that you can have this focus. Another benefit I discovered is that absence makes the heart grow fonder—I enjoyed my time much more so with my baby without any of the guilt or worry."
–Janet Vito, Sr. Vice President, Marketing & Sales, uShip, Austin, TX
19. Celebrate the small things.
"The best part about being a mom is appreciating and cherishing the small things–smiles of pride when your kiddo meets their accomplishment, hearing and seeing acts of kindness, receiving a homemade gift whether a decoration, card, or song, siblings sticking up for each other, chores being done without asking. These have all taught me to be patient, celebrate the small things, and know everything will work out exactly the way it is supposed to."
–Cammie Heefner, Department Coordinator, Collins Aerospace, IA
20. Be a more effective problem solver.
"Being a mom has taught me how to find a pattern in chaos and effectively solve the issue amid the noise. As a Business Analyst, this skill has helped me focus on reaching optimum solutions by looking at the big picture. I have two boys: 4 years and 2 ½ years old. We have huge tantrums. Rather than focusing on their behavior, I have learned to focus on the ways to resolve the situation."
–Isha Pandit, Business Analysis Senior at Freddie Mac, Virginia
"I've learned the power of patience and helping others to understand the 'why.' With kids, you can't just tell them 'no' or 'don't do that' – it makes a much larger impact when they understand why, so that they know the reason for your response and can learn to choose a different behavior moving forward. At work, I find that if I include the 'why' in my response to something, it helps others to understand my point of view and sometimes even begin thinking in different ways moving forward. In this case I'm not just providing answers or perspectives, I'm also influencing outcomes and inspiring diversified thought."
–Tonya Montella, Manager, Sales Enablement, CarGurus
"I have always been ambitious and strongly driven to achieve my goals. However, when I had my son, I was apprehensive about how I would feel going back to work. That apprehension quickly turned into my biggest motivation. It provided me with an intense desire to ace every project and challenge at my job so that my son would, one day, be proud of me. I love what I do. I have always enjoyed coding and my job brings me immense happiness and fulfillment, and that sense of satisfaction, in turn, makes me a better mom. I learned to get more things done in less time by creating goals, setting desired outcomes, scheduling, prioritizing and eliminating non-essentials. This has helped me to efficiently and effectively complete all my tasks. It also dawned on me that my life hadn't changed completely but rather expanded to add on another role called 'amma' (mom) which has made me better at everything else."
–Meghana Raj Jayanarasimha, Sr. Software Engineer, Netskope, Santa Clara, CA
What advice has helped you balance family and career? Let us know in the comments... And Happy Mother's Day!