These Working Mothers of the Year from our 2019 100 Best Companies list know how to juggle parenting and their careers. For more on the Working Mothers of the Year from the Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies of 2019, click here.
Name: Shannon McGinnis
Title: HCV Therapeutic Specialist
Children: Drayton, 14 / Sawyer, 12 / Mary Michael, 7
Location: Cordele, GA
“A whirlwind four years of marriage had certainly brought a lot of adventure, and fast. Overnight, we went from having two children to having four. Our oldest son was 3; our youngest was 1. In July 2007, our niece, 3-years-old, and nephew, 5-years-old, had come to live with us. We took guardianship of them. Learning to manage a household, job and two more children on top of two was overwhelming.
I thought back to advice from my grandmother, who took me in as a child, and I could hear her words. ‘You are enough. Be kind. To not let the voice of doubt tell you that you are not good enough.’
I let go of the images of what I thought I needed to be and started asking for help. Watching our family thrive, together, has been a blessing. Our children have learned how to love others and accept change as it comes. Our nephew will graduate this year and our niece has already received scholarships for college as an incoming freshman. When I talk to other women, mothers and friends I relay the same messages that had impact in my life. You are enough. Choose kindness. Don’t compare yourself to others. Life is not fair, and that is OK. Work hard, even if no one sees it. You can only do what you can do. Control those things first.
I was blessed that my grandmother took me in and helped me. That is a legacy worth teaching my children by allowing them to live it.”
Name: Latrise Brissett
Title: Managing Director, Accenture Digital
Children: Alexia, 3, Maya, 10, Layla, 15, and Aston Jr.
Location: New York, NY
“Before I met my husband, all my attention was on my career. Marriage and family changed that, and I learned to split my focus; balancing my desire to be with my family with work that I love. I used to travel frequently, but to be present for my family, I learned to speak up at work to ask for assignments closer to home, and my Accenture leaders were extremely supportive and accommodating. I still have a heavy commute from New Jersey to New York City, and like most moms, my days are long. But knowing I can get my daughter dressed and out the door each morning and be home with my family at night is priceless.
I lost my mother when I was 18, and being a good mom is so important to me. I love my job, but I don’t want to miss out on anything as a mom, so I’m constantly looking for ways to integrate these two parts of my life. I know how important it is to build a strong relationship early with your children, and it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
It’s being able to tell my kids what I did when they were young. I hope that’s motivating to them. I know once we complete this public safety project in New York City, New Yorkers will be safer, and people will say to my kids, ‘Your mom had a part in that.’ For my girls especially, I want them to see that they can do and be anything.”
Name: Anna Santolucito
Title: Division Vice President, Sales, ADP
Children: Shayla, 11 / Vince, 9
Location: San Ramon, CA
“One of the best lessons I learned in balancing motherhood with work came early on in my leadership career. I was not interested in a leadership role because I thought it would be impossible to manage a sales team while also caring for my children.
My children were 1 and 3 at the time. I did most of the dropoffs and pickups and their daycare, which closed at 5:30 p.m. I was often rushing to pick them up after work and then rushing to get them taken care of before their 7:30 p.m. bedtime. How could I possibly take on more responsibility? I worked for a great leader who saw and believed in my potential. After a lot of encouragement from him, I started to question, what are they seeing that I’m not?
It occurred to me that I might be looking at this opportunity through the wrong lens. Instead of listing all the reasons why a leadership career couldn’t work for me, I needed to focus on what I would need to make it work, like a flexible schedule. I told my boss, if I were to go into leadership, I couldn’t make an 8:00 a.m. meeting. It was too hectic rushing to get to daycare, but I could do 8:30 a.m. instead. I told him I couldn’t work past 5:00 p.m. every night, but I could possibly stay a couple late nights a week. I coordinated with one of the daycare workers for an extended babysitting arrangement for a few hours a week. Over time the list of ways grew to make the opportunity work, then shrunk as my children got older, but I learned that I could make any great opportunity work if I was open and honest about what I needed.”
Arnold & Porter
Name: Paula Ramer
Children: Eli, 8 / Alexandra (Alex), 4
Location: Scarsdale, NY
“When I was preparing to return to my firm after my first parental leave, a colleague at another firm told me that when she went back to work after having her first child, she made an effort to leave every day in time to make it home to spend time with her daughter. Once her daughter fell asleep, she would resume working from home. It sounds so simple, yet as a then-midlevel associate at a large law firm who worked late almost every day, I had been envisioning myself returning to work and never making it home before bedtime. I discussed it with my firm, which was more than happy to agree to the request, and I went back to work with the understanding that I would try to leave early every day.
Eight years later, I continue to leave at 5:15 p.m. almost every day. Admittedly, there are days when I just cannot leave the office early because of a call, meeting or deadline, but most days I get home in time to spend a couple of hours with my kids before they go to bed. (It also helps that as they have gotten older, they go to bed later!) When they were little, I spent that time giving them baths and reading them books. Now, we ride bikes, work on school projects or watch Wheel of Fortune (their favorite). My colleagues and clients have always been incredibly understanding and supportive of my schedule. They know that I generally do not respond to emails for a few hours every evening, but that I am back online and working later, and they are used to my late-night emails. This simple modification of my working hours allows me to be fully present with my kids when I am with them and to fully focus on my work when I turn to that, and for me, has been the perfect arrangement.”
Astellas Pharma US
Name: Lisa Kistler
Title: Associate General Counsel, Litigation
Children: Tom, 14 / Jake, 11 / Grace, 9
Location: Naperville, IL
“My first mentor was close to heart and home. My mother was the household chief accountant, strategy officer and operations executive to my dad, seven siblings and me. Even as she negotiated long days and competing personalities, she had a beautiful way of demonstrating to us that she was where she wanted to be, doing what she loved to do. And we loved her for that (and a million reasons more).
As I started my profession as a working mother, I struggled. My mom advised me to bring my whole self back to my home, just like I brought my whole self to work, allowing me to find more joy in both. In keeping with Mom’s advice, and with my husband’s support, I remain honest with my children about how much I enjoy being an attorney, even though I miss them on long days at the office. I constantly work to find ways to bring my kids along with me in a way that mirrors their own experiences: sharing with them my effort to find friends and confidantes at work and my failures at tasks even after trying my best. I try to drive the understanding that my profession is just another part of who I am to them and, in that, our shared experience.
To be certain, I routinely stumble in this effort. But I try to be creative. After advocating for my disabled son through years of therapies and IEPs, I was determined to reflect his spirit through pro bono and community efforts at work. I prioritize events on my children’s schedules that encourage advocacy, negotiation and respect for difference—things about which I remain passionate in my career. In the end, I would like to believe my mom’s prodding made me a better attorney and mother, though I am still working hard at both. “
Name: Patricia Hong
Children: Isabella, 8
Location: New York City, NY
“Since Isabella was born, she and I have been a team in every aspect of life, so my work is also very much her own. She understands that work not only pays the bills but also gives me joy. She knows my major accomplishments came after she was born. Every day there’s a surprise, a challenge, both at work at home. But there are non-negotiables on both fronts, things we can’t compromise on. That’s what keeps it balanced; knowing you did not do it all, it didn’t go as planned, but that you didn’t compromise on your non-negotiables. For Isabella and I, being local is a huge part of what makes this work. A combination of the firm’s, team’s and client support, and how I focus my time have allowed me to be local in a usually very travel-intensive career.”
Name: Kate Horton
Title: Director, Senior Relationship Management
Children: Gunnar, 1
Location: New York City, NY
“In 2018 I had my first child, and I subsequently took four months of maternity leave. As my return date loomed, I was filled with trepidation as to how I would balance my job in finance with my role as a new mother. Particularly, as my family are all overseas, and my husband is hundreds of miles away, I was unsure whether I had the support network required to both raise a child and maintain a successful career. When I returned to work, I had an open and honest conversation with my manager about the flexibility I would need in order to adapt to the changes in my life and to excel at work. Both during and after our conversation, I was thrilled to recognize another support network that would enable me to be both a successful professional and a great mom: my manager, my colleagues and our support staff, in short, my team. With my team’s support, my commitment to them, and an open line of communication, not only was I able to balance the demands of being a new mother with the challenges of a job I love, I was able to flourish quickly and take my career to the next level. Two months after I returned to work, I was promoted to director, and thereafter I was recognized by Barclays for my contribution to the firm with a High Commendation Woman of the Year Award. Open and straightforward communication with a team who is committed to one another confirms and solidifies each employee’s support network, which, in turn, creates an environment where working mothers achieve excellence every day.”
Name: Heather Wechet
Title: VP HR, Functions & Employee Relations
Children: Logan, 12 / Cameron, 9 / Aidan, 15
Location: Cary, IL
“When I first joined Baxter, I had two young sons, and was fairly green in my career. Within 18 months, I welcomed my third son, while still trying to navigate the company and my career. Admittedly, there were days when I didn’t know if I could be successful in both worlds. So I found a role model within HR that seemed to have it all figured out; fortunately, I learned from her and adopted some of her working mother solutions and techniques. I remind myself that your heart can be in two places, home and work; it is just how you prioritize your day to keep the balance.”
Name: Maggie Gilmore
Title: Tax Managing Director
Children: Sean, 15 / Matt Location: Lewis Center, OH
“Even though my son, Sean, is older, he still needs me. He’s active in hockey and we often spend our time together traveling for hockey tournaments. Being present in his life is extremely important to me, and having the flexibility to come and go, to get him where he needs to be, is a priority.
As children get older, they need you more, not less. This is something my aunt shared with me once, and this advice has stayed with me as my son grows older. Even though he is 15-years-old, he needs his mom, just in a different way.
When I started at BDO, I requested that up to half my time be spent outside of the office, either working at home or from the road to accommodate travel with my son’s team. I’ve sat in hockey rinks and worked, but I’ve been present for my son, and I experience the wisdom of my aunt’s advice firsthand.
I don’t know when he’s going to want to strike up a conversation or when he has something on his mind he wants to talk about. When I’m in the office, he’ll call and share a few words to let me know he is all right. However, when we’re together in the car or on a walk, he’s able to open up, and I’m so thankful to be present in those moments.”
Blue Cross NC
Name: Endya Perry
Title: Cost and Budget Management Manager
Children: Jaylyn, 22 / Jax, 10
Location: Clayton, NC
“Finding intersections in the various components of life (family, education, work, community) helps to make the challenge of balancing time and energy more manageable. It also fuels collective growth. An example of this intersection is through the lesson that learning never ends. I demonstrate this lesson for my children by setting time aside each night for learning. During learning time, I am normally working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. or researching a topic for work. Meanwhile, my children are working on their schoolwork. After our family learning time, we share what we learned and how we will apply it. Learning and applying what has been learned is critical to success in life. Through this practice, we collectively experience that learning never ends.
One last piece of advice is to never run from challenges due to fear or doubt. Instead, we should embrace the opportunity to grow. Life does not exist without challenges.”
Name: Nikkia Starks Jones
Title: Head of U.S. Pet Healthcare Marketing, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
Children: Braden, 13 / Riley, 11
Location: Atlanta, GA
“I have been incredibly fortunate to receive the advice and wealth of knowledge of so many working women. There are three pieces of wisdom that have guided me on my journey as a working mother. 1. Find something you love, that gets you out of bed in the morning, and fuels your passion. My mother modeled this for me in the work that she did and it shaped my perspective as I built my career. 2. Time is a finite resource. You can’t get it back and you will have to make choices about how you spend it. I will never make every sporting event and school activity. So when I am with my children, I choose to be fully present and engaged, to make memories, and to show up for them. I have a village of sister moms who remind me of this rule when I start to feel overwhelmed and feel like I’m not doing enough. 3. Pay it forward. I did not get here alone. My first mentor, Mrs. Marion Blalock at Purdue University, spent her entire career helping to expose minority students to careers in engineering. She modeled this every single day and if I can make 1/10 of the impact she did, I will have fulfilled my goal.”
Name: Ella-Marie Smith
Children: Lilly, 7 / Finn, 3
Location: Charlotte, NC
“I live by the adage it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe that one of the most important members of any mom’s village should be their employer. I feel lucky to be part of a firm with such a strong culture of inclusivity and advancement of mothers. In my years at Dechert, I have availed myself of the firm’s many benefits, such as a generous maternity leave, having a great space to pump at work, a partial work-from-home schedule, and a flexible part-time arrangement, all while remaining on the partner track and feeling like an essential member of my team and the firm. I have also greatly benefitted from having inspiring and compassionate firm partners serve as my mentors and sponsors, each of whom have facilitated my growth both as an attorney and as a person.”
Name: Casey Giovanelli
Title: Tax Senior Manager
Children: Cooper, 4 / Kennedy, 1
Location: San Francisco, CA
“When I was eight months pregnant with my first child I remember sitting in my office with a colleague telling her that I didn’t see how I could succeed in M&A as a mother. As a mother herself, she told me that when I returned from leave, it would be important for me to remember three things: 1. be unapologetic about personal commitments, 2. tackle work and life one day at a time, and 3. be kind to myself. Looking back, I know that her words of wisdom were spot on.
M&A is a demanding field and often entails last-minute work commitments which conflict with personal and family time. I navigate these challenges by unapologetically taking advantage of the downtime and the flexible nature of our business. I work from home when possible so that I can take my son to preschool and have lunch dates with my daughter. I also put personal commitments on my calendar and treat them the same as I would treat a client meeting. Each morning I read through my to-do list and prioritize the items that absolutely need to get done versus the items that would be nice to have done.
Lastly, the best piece of advice that colleague gave me was to be kind to myself. As women, we often strive for perfection, however, those at work and at home don’t usually expect perfection. Having children has forced me to embrace the beauty of the chaos that comes with being a working mother of young children, and I know one day, I will look back on these years and miss them greatly.”
Name: Alyse Schwartz
Title: SVP, Managing Director Atlanta
Children: Avery, 8 / Micah, 6
Location: Atlanta, GA
“I was rising in my career at the same time that the digital agency phenomenon was rising in advertising. I was working crazy hours and was able to accomplish great things by my mid-30s—I was an EVP in a growing organization. But I soon realized that I had over 70 people within my capability and simply put, I wasn’t comfortable being the leader, even though the title was exciting (at the time). I wasn’t ready to make the truly difficult decisions. I was a young mother, and overseeing the success of these people was too much for me in that moment. I wasn’t quite ready for all of this intense responsibility, not to mention the ability to carry it out with grit and grace.
I have always been confident in my abilities, but I had lost my way. Being in this leadership role, I was no longer in the work, living and breathing it—which had been the fuel that kept me excited about my job in the first place. I was making decisions that would affect my team’s lives and I just wasn’t comfortable with that. I needed to find a new way to lead while staying in the work. I don’t know if I would’ve come to this realization if I weren’t raised to be a strong woman who was able to reflect on what I want. As I grew up, I was often asked to reflect on myself, as well as others—and I would guess I’m not the only woman who had this experience. It’s often a part of societal norms. But I would argue that as a result, we tend to be more empathetic, which is why we can be strong and thoughtful leaders.
So I took a step back. And now, seven years later I’m in a different leadership position. I am able to lead, coach and be in the work. And I’m finally accepting the fact that I will be uncomfortable at times—being truly candid and brutally honest can be hard. But I’m learning to provide guidance, feedback and be direct while still showing empathy—it can be a tightrope. Some days are hard, but some days are incredible and it is truly rewarding to see the growth and evolution of our team.
Every day is an exercise in being comfortable with being uncomfortable—making the hard decisions. And knowing that these decisions are right for the greater goals of the team, the work and the organization.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to take time for myself, so I can be a better leader. Whether it’s exercising, playing with my kids, having a glass of wine, meditating, traveling or simply putting the phone away.”
Name: Mirelys McCloud
Title: Director, People & Culture
Children: Stephen, 13 / Madison, 11 / Luke, 8
Location: Miami, FL
“As a mother, wife, caregiver and employee, the pressure can be daunting. Everyone needs your attention, deadlines need to be met and you find yourself asking, ‘How can I be all things to all people!?’ I found myself trying to be the perfect mother, perfect wife, perfect caregiver and perfect employee. Then, a few years ago, after my third child was born, my husband was getting his graduate degree, my dad moved in with us, pressures at work were intense and we adopted a second dog, and then it dawned on me: I don’t have to be perfect.
Sometimes ‘good enough’ is good enough. When I realized this, my whole perspective on life changed. I realized that I needed to be OK with knowing that sometimes, I will make mistakes, at times, I will yell, I might forget some things and I need to be humble enough to admit it. Sometimes, I’ll have to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong” and that’s OK too. I also realized that I don’t want to be remembered by my family or my colleagues for getting things right most of the time, but instead, for always showing love, being kind and treating everyone with respect. Always remember, that as long as you’ve tried your best, good enough is good enough because perfect doesn’t exist.”
Eli Lilly & Company
Name: Ann Chen
Title: Assistant General Counsel
Children: Marcus, 2
Location: Indianapolis, IN
“As a gay couple, we were intentional about our journey to parenthood. We read many books and spoke to many families. We discussed surrogacy versus adoption. We debated whether to raise our child in Asia or move back to the U.S. Before our son was born, we felt ready.
We could not be further from the truth. One night, our newborn would not stop crying. We changed his diaper, tried to feed him, checked his temperature; we ran out of options and could only anxiously wait as he fell asleep. It was a wakeup call. As much as we so desperately believed that we could plan for everything, we were wrong.
‘Having children is the most humbling experience,’ a litigation partner once told me. The notion surprised me at the time when I thought I could have it all. In fact, at age 40, I had a good career, was happily married, financially secured and exercised regularly. When the baby arrived, for the first time in life, I needed more time to juggle work and family, I asked for help and prayed for grace.
Fortunately, our company culture supported and fostered work-life balance. After returning to the U.S., I led the international IP litigation team and was thus able to commute between oversea trials and Taiwan, where my wife (and child) lived while waiting for her visa. I worked remotely during the first 10 weeks after the baby was born, a company parental leave benefit that became official this year. My business partners also respected the meeting boundaries I set in order to keep baby duties. In fact, our CEO and his wife led by example as a dual career family.
We also rearranged our priorities, trading city life for a kid-friendly suburb, and replacing weekly dates with drive-till-the-baby-sleeps chats. Like all working mothers, I continue to face new challenges each day but have faith there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I now reflect on the ‘humbling experience notion‚’ still thinking we can have it all, but just not all at the same time.”
Ernst & Young LLP
Name: Udanda Clark
Title: Partner, Assurance Services, Financial Services Organization
Children: Campbell, 6 / Copeland, 1
Location: San Francisco, CA
“I’ll never forget the best advice I received about successfully navigating work and life. Some say balance, but I personally think it isn’t balancing: it’s fitting it together in a way that works for your family. I had just returned from parental leave after having my daughter, and a partner on my engagement team told me about his experience.
He said to be ‘all in and focus on what’s going on in the moment. When you’re with your kids, be with them 100%, wholeheartedly. When you’re at work, dive in and be absorbed in your work.’ Since the moment he said this, I have put it into practice and worked to live in the moment. It isn’t always easy, given competing demands, but I make it a priority to fully engage in what I’m doing. My two children get to see first-hand that I have a fulfilling career and that family is my top priority.
I’ve translated this advice to working with my EY team supporting clients in the FinTech industry. I can’t be everywhere and do everything, so I prioritize what I’m doing to be the most strategic for our clients. This approach allows me to bring the best of the firm to help them see around corners to where they want to be.
Sometimes people say to me, ‘I don’t know how you do it all.’ I always ask, ‘What is ‘it?’ Because ‘it’ is personal. It means something different to everyone. I encourage colleagues to leverage the tools and flexibility that EY offers to help them succeed. I’m also transparent that it isn’t perfect, and neither am I, but you can be successful at work and at home.”
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
Name: Jennifer Jackson
Title: Senior Principal Business Analyst
Children: Andy (adult) / Julian, 15 / Ariana, 13 / Jason, 16 / Alexandra, 6
Location: Rockville, MD
“Most working moms struggle to find work-life balance, and we are often left feeling like it is zero-sum game in which 100% is being shared and the balance is found in some sort of 50/50 split. This is a game we all end up losing, and it is never 50/50. When trying to strike this perfect balance, there are only two outcomes, and neither are great—either failing at one thing and excelling at the other, or mediocre across the board. Somewhere (I would like to think a TedTalk but probably a Facebook meme) I heard or saw the phrase, ‘work-life integration.’ And that night I remember those words tumbling around in my head. Not balance, integration. Fluidity. Not either/or.
The difference is that instead of a rigid adherence to a strict balance, largely determined by time of day (9 to 5 is work, Saturday is for kids), it is allowing myself the flexibility to be where I need to be, when I need to be there. And I am fortunate to work for a company and a boss that allows for me to create this integration. I work from home. I take after-hours calls while driving the soccer carpool. I answer emails in between rounds of nightly jeopardy competitions with my son. My daughter is on a first-name basis with most of my team, and knows how to get to the free hot chocolate machine in our office. I stopped beating myself up for running the kids to the doctor during work hours. I stopped beating myself up for bringing my laptop to bed some nights. And, when I am working from home, I take breaks to pet the dogs‚ because, integration.”
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP
Name: Aliza Carrano
Children: Matthew, 3 / Isabella (infant)
Location: Washington, DC
“Watching my children grow up has been a rewarding and uplifting experience. At the same time, there is a constant balancing of the demands of my career with spending quality time with my family. One thing that I have realized is that as a working mother, I am only going to have a couple of hours with my children each day during the week. To make the most of that limited time, I have learned to focus on work when I am working, and after work, when I am at home, to focus on the kids until their bedtime. It sounds simple, but it was not obvious nor is it easy to follow all the time.
When I am working, I try to be as efficient as I can, such as eating lunch at my desk, to avoid bringing work home. I also take advantage of the firm’s flexible work arrangement options by working from home sometimes to reduce time spent commuting. At home, when it is time for my children, I commit to fully engage with them. That means not constantly checking email or scheduling calls during this time. Because the demands of my job often require my attention in the evening, this is a lot easier said than done. But by doing so, I can be fully present with my children, with whatever activity we are doing whether that is giving them a bath, eating dinner with them, changing a diaper or reading bedtime stories. Focusing just on my children for those few hours before bedtime helps improve the quality of time spent with them and gives me a better sense of work-life balance. It also motivates me to work harder at work, so that I can ultimately be a better provider for my children.”
Name: Angelica Roiz
Children: Amelia, 4 / Gwenyth, 3
Location: Philadelphia, PA
“The key to making working parenthood more manageable and rewarding is believing that it can be both! Staying in the moment (whether at work or at home) is key to being successful on both fronts. There is an art to compartmentalizing and making sure to focus on the task at hand so as to minimize distractions and get the most out of both your career and your time as a parent.
I treasure my role as a mother and the opportunity to raise my children and also value my career and the continued ability it gives me to empower other women in my firm and my profession. As the local Champion of Women at Grant Thornton in Philadelphia and a member of the Women at Grant Thornton National External Relations Committee, I help coordinate internal and external programming and networking to promote the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women at Grant Thornton. I am also passionate about volunteering through my local United Way Women’s Initiative and serve as a member of its Steering Committee to continue to build up the future generation of female leaders in Philadelphia. This is my passion both at work and at home.”
Name: Michelle Wun
Title: Sr Manager, Global Brand Development & Marketing
Children: Daniel, 10 / Mackenzie, 8
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
“As a Senior Marketing Manager for some of Hasbro’s most recognizable partner brands, Michelle said it takes a village to successfully juggle the needs of her family with the demands of marketing some of the world’s most beloved characters. While she admits she can’t always be there for school pickups and dropoffs, she knows she can count on her family to take care of her kids when she can’t make it.
Having grown up admiring her own working mother, Michelle hopes to instill her drive and work ethic in her kids. “”It’s important to have a passion for what you do, and that passion will show through to your children. It’s so amazing to see my kids light up when they see me in action at events like Comic Con. It’s a family affair. I feel fortunate that I can bring my whole self to work at Hasbro. I can be a mom, a marathoner and a leader at work, and it’s that balance that I find so rewarding. I love that I’m able to show my kids these different sides of me.”
Name: Mary Onstott
Title: Product Service Specialist
Children: Emerson, 19 / Owen, 17
Location: Zeeland, MI
“I am creating a bucket list. My goal is to cross a minimum of one thing off a year to continue to keep life as balanced as I can. By creating my bucket list, it will help keep me on track and will still allow me the ability to dream bigger and better.
After losing a dear coworker/friend/mentor in 2016, I am constantly reminded of the ways she inspired me daily, both at home and at work. I remind myself every day to never take anything for granted, that life is short and although work is a necessity for me, it does not define me. It is just a part of who I am, and between that balance, it allows me to be the best mom I can be.”
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Name: Jezel Pereira
Title: Director, Service Operations
Children: Corey, 12 / Jayla, 13 / Qaumel, (adult)
Location: Howell, NJ
“My daughter has a very busy schedule, and I’ve had to learn to navigate our lives in a way that makes it OK for each of us not to be everywhere and do everything that we feel we need to do. One of my mentors reminded me that there are moments raising children that we can never get back. We work together to prioritize and ensure that we both get value from our experiences. Sometimes there’s pouting, and looks of great disappointment, but as a mom I’ve learned that it’s OK, there really aren’t enough hours in the day.
The kids might have to be late for practice when a key report is due, and you’re behind, and work might have to take a backseat when Dad is traveling and the team made the playoffs, but I always take a moment to assess the impact and my alternatives. When I find myself at these crossroads I use my daily ‘blue sky time’ (essentially a quiet place away from my office or the family; in my car, a conference room or taking a walk) to reflect on which path to take. Not always easy, but we figure it out!”
Name: Kristin Schneider
Title: Chief Operating Officer, Americas Hotels & Hospitality
Children: Greyson, 17 / Izzy, 16
Location: Winnetka, IL
“Almost 20 years ago, I was offered a career-altering promotion just as my husband and I were navigating the adoption of our first child. Unlike a typical pregnancy, the timing of adoption is difficult to pinpoint, so I was torn between the excitement of the professional opportunity and the unpredictability of my coming role as a new mom.
Fortunately, I had two reassuring advocates at work, one a father, and one a mother, who both gave me crucial advice that has stayed with me throughout my career. I wasn’t sure how motherhood would change me or my career aspirations, but they both said emphatically, ‘Take the job.’ They reasoned there was no way to know how parenthood might change me or the decisions I would make in the future, but at that moment, the reasons to take on the new professional challenge were clear. Through sharing their own experiences, they explained that what I would want or need as a working parent would change over time as my family grew.
Their guidance and support helped me overcome my apprehension and pursue a career path as a confident and fulfilled working mother. Since then, my husband and I have navigated through two adoptions; one extended maternity leave; part-time, flex-time and remote work; and several relocations and job changes.”
Name: Christina Moungey
Title: Managing Director, Region Manager for Indiana and Ohio Middle Market Banking
Children: Miles, 8 / Oliver, 5
Location: Carmel, IN
“When I became a mother, I consulted a number of successful women at JPMorgan Chase, and two pieces of advice resonated most with me—and it is advice I’ve given many times over. 1. Be an authentic leader. Be an example that employees on the team, including those with childcare responsibilities, can observe and respect. Be transparent, be genuine and set the example for our business and with our clients.
2. Build your team. Accept, seek and celebrate support (because we need it)! In the office, I drive a supportive environment for working parents by being open and honest about attending kindergarten orientation or rearranging the calendar for an unexpected sick day—I want my team to know that I prioritize these events and they should feel comfortable doing the same. I candidly share parenting struggles as we all wade through days bleary-eyed after late night feedings or science fair projects. I am also transparent about needing help.”
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Name: Kimberly T. Smith
Title: Partner and co-chair of Private Equity practice
Children: Natalie, 6 / Victoria, 12
Location: Chicago, IL
“As a mother of two daughters and the National Co-Chair of Private Equity at Katten, there is one piece of advice for working parents that has most resonated with me over the years: play the long game.
With so many demands on our time at work and at home, we often have no choice but to race from one task to the next, checking things off the list before the deadline passes, without a chance to look out on the horizon beyond the immediate needs of the day.
But taking the time to consider a longer-term view can create a remarkable perspective that helps us avoid sweating the small stuff. Sometimes the things that seem important at that moment will not matter a year or even a month from now, and that realization can bring with it a sense of comfort and renewed focus when we need it most.
From time to time, demands in our family and personal lives will require more of our attention than usual, inevitably at inopportune times at the office. Setbacks are bound to happen. And in those moments your professional performance might not be at its peak. But in the long game, these events are merely blips along the way from which you can recover if you stay the course.
Whenever I am able to make time for a long run, I find myself thinking about this advice in terms of sprinting versus endurance running. Stumble in a sprint and you are sure to lose the race. Running a long distance can also be tiring and you might stumble there too. But if you forge ahead, with stamina and determination, you will cross the finish line with a rewarding sense of accomplishment. Much like playing the long game in life.”
Name: Jenny Misek
Title: Research Technical Leader
Children: Warren,17 / David, 11
Location: Roswell, GA
“I am the mother of two autistic children who require a different type of parenting than a neurotypical child does. To survive the emotional rollercoaster and journey that is special needs parenting, I discovered that I rely upon a coping mechanism. It is thinking and approaching my children as projects at work. It sounds cold and almost the opposite of being a loving mother; however, it is essential for me to compartmentalize things to ensure our family gets what we need. If I approach each of them as my ‘customer,’ I can create and customize a parenting plan, treatments and expectations that I have for them and most importantly, myself. This dichotomy allows me to distance myself from the emotions that overwhelm me on a daily basis. It helps me to live in the moment and move past a sense of loss that I have. I strive to be able to meet them where they are and enjoy them.”
Name: Stacy Meller
Title: Tax Managing Director
Children: Drew, 3 / Tommy, 8 / Jacob, 11
Location: New Berlin, WI
“Life can be full of surprises, both good and bad, and you have to be able to adapt should an unexpected turn of events occur. It’s all right if you have times in your career when you’re not climbing up the ladder, but rather taking some time to pause on a step. I have encountered this throughout my career each time one of my children was born, and even more so when my mother was battling cancer and I wanted to be there to help with her care taking. I have taken advantage of KPMG’s ‘Alternative Work Arrangements’ over the years by working a reduced schedule when I have needed more time to focus on family.
Work-life balance doesn’t mean there’s an even split between work and family. Sometimes work has to take priority and other times family does. I have definitely struggled with the infamous “”working mom guilt,”” particularly when I have to miss a school event or when a daycare dropoff doesn’t go as planned. It’s important to let go of the guilt and know that you are contributing to your family in a different way, and serving as a role model to your children by successfully managing a career while having a family. As a mother of three boys, I like to think that someday they will enter the workforce viewing women as their equals.
Delegation and sharing of responsibilities are critical to making this all work. My husband is very supportive and we share responsibilities at home. Similarly, I have a great team of professionals at KPMG who accommodate my schedule. I try to be flexible with my team as well, understanding that everyone has priorities outside of work.”
Name: Delia Silva
Title: Engagement Manager
Children: Mateo, 1
Location: Boston, MA
“You know the saying, ‘If you want things done right, you have to do them yourself’? My mother used to always say it when things were not done quite to her liking. One of the many things I learned since becoming a mom is that you simply do not have the time to do everything yourself. I have always considered myself a hard worker, incredibly independent and notoriously detailed, obsessively so. At the end of the day, I want to be proud of the work I put forth on every project and ensure that my clients get the best assessment they can. Because of my level of attention to detail and drive to get things done right, this often resulted in me putting in longer hours well after my teams had gone home. As a mom, I no longer had those hours and so something had to give. Instead of directly updating the work as needed, I decided to leverage the teams more, let them try and maybe get it wrong and redirect, and it has worked tremendously well. Someone recently said to me, ‘Thank you for giving me confidence to take a first pass and stepping in when I really needed you to.’ I no longer stay up late, instead I get up early to provide my teams with guidance and make sure to create enough time to brainstorm with them and let them execute instead of trying to execute everything myself. I am continuing to deliver work that makes our clients happy, mentoring teams, and having fun brainstorming and learning new ways of problem solving, all while also enjoying all the joys and happiness that my 14 month old brings me.”
L’Oréal USA Inc.
Name: Martha Glenn
Title: Vice President – Marketing
Children: Ned, 6 / Lesley, 6
Location: Cos Cob, CT
“As little girls we are often told that we can be anything we want: a teacher, a businesswoman, an astronaut. In school, we prepare by learning what is in textbooks, but nowhere along the way are we told how to be a working mom; there is no manual. As with many things, it comes down to on-the-job learning. My journey to working mom was not easy for my husband and me. We went through tests, losses and ultimately me needing a procedure that landed on the most important work day of the year. My choice: work or start a family. Every bone in my career-hungry body said work; but my heart told me what the choice should be. With the support of my manager, I went to the doctor and am now the proud mother of 6-year-old twins.
My husband and I are equally invested in our careers and our family. Juggling both is complicated, definitely not what you see on social media. Marketing is a collaborative effort. Ideas get better with people; discussions can (and do) happen on the phone, but are more lively and productive in person. It is not a job that ends at 6 p.m. This runs into conflict with sick kids, teacher meetings, commutes and bedtime stories. But my husband and I make it work between work-from-home programs, an army of babysitters and two understanding kids.
In the midst of all the craziness, I have built the foundation of a career I am proud of because I want as much success for myself as I dream of for my kids and I am definitely not done yet.”
Name: Sherise Hurst
Title: Field Marketing Manager, Americas
Children: Jordan (adult) / Sydney, 11 / Skylar, 6
Location: Lexington, KY
“It’s impossible to get a 100 percent score on being a mom‚ let alone a working mom. As an over-achiever and self-proclaimed nerd, this realization was hard for me to internalize. However, just because you can’t get 100 percent doesn’t mean you’re a failure. There are good days and bad days at both work and home. Over the years, I’ve learned to count the days, not the tasks. If the number of good days outweigh the bad days, it’s a win! As your kids get older and your career progresses, it gets more difficult to balance the two.
It’s easy to look at our busy schedules and say, ‘That’s enough!’ Unfortunately, I’ve found that when I get to that point, what suffers the most is my family schedule. A subconscious justification for work kicks in and I look for family activities that we can cut out. I challenge myself every day to fight that urge! Life is a delicate balance between work and family. It’s not easy to find that middle ground sometimes, but,I don’t let my work schedule cast doubtful shadows over what I think I can take on with my family. I have no business leading two Girl Scout troops, taking Karate lessons with my daughter and coaching my other daughter’s soccer team while maintaining a very busy and rewarding career, but I do it. I do it because those quality moments with my girls lead to good days and memorable experiences that last forever.”
McKinsey & Company
Name: Jocelyn Grahame
Title: Senior Partner
Children: Matthew, 5 / Alexa, 3
Location: Summit, NJ
“My mom worked my entire childhood. She did quality assurance in healthcare companies and had an advanced degree. I could see my mom loved me unconditionally and that she also loved her work. Most of my friends’ moms didn’t work and could do things such as chaperone class trips, be class mom, and drive us to dance lessons on a Tuesday afternoon. Even as a really young kid, I remember clearly what I thought about my mom working while the other moms didn’t. While I missed her on some of those class trips, I remember being really proud that she had a job ‘like all the dads.’
When I was in high school, my mom admitted she’d felt guilty for years for working during my childhood (although frankly, it’s not like my parents had a choice from a financial perspective). When I shared my perspective with her, she was shocked and laughed at all the time she’d spent feeling guilty, when in fact, I had been proud of her and thought she was a great role model.
Whenever I think that I’m letting down my kids, I think about my relationship with my mom. We’ve been incredibly close my whole life, and I have never doubted for a moment I was her top priority. Our kids might think about some things differently than we do.”
Name: Hilda Mejia-Torres
Title: Banquet Server
Children: Michael, 12 / Alejandra, 9
Location: Silver Spring, MD
“No matter how difficult and hard your life is, with a positive attitude you can make it shine. I am so grateful for being a working mother. I wake up early each morning and see the light of a new day full of enthusiasm and happiness, and I encourage others in my workplace. I have gone through many difficulties and challenges [her husband was deported and she hasn’t seen him since]. My biggest motivations are my children, and especially my wonderful mother who has formed me to become who I am today. She has taught me to stay positive and humble, and always have a good attitude. She taught me to love, because love is sacrifice and tolerance and offers hope to help others. My responsibilities require time and dedication to complete successfully. I rise two hours before work to prepare our meals. I juggle multiple tasks, both at home and work. This includes after-school activities, medical appointments and taking care of our home. Above all, have a good attitude towards others. We are warriors in everything we do and we must set good examples to our children and to everyone we meet. My other motto to live by: ‘Don’t be slow feet, because slow feet don’t eat.'”
Name: Sue Famulare
Title: Director, HR Change Strategies, Employee Engagement, and Communications
Children: Lily (infant) / Sophia, 14
Location: Middletown, NJ
“The most important advice I would share for all working mothers is reach out to your fellow working moms for advice or help. You might not realize it, but there is an incredible network of working mom superheroes who are ready to swoop in and set you up for success. I’ll never forget the day I got the call from the adoption agency to go and get my daughter, Lily. I had less than 24 hours’ notice to prepare for her arrival. Not knowing where to start, I reached out to several working moms at the office and cried, ‘Help! What do I do?’ The responses from my fellow moms in capes and tights, including tips on critical baby paraphernalia, whom to call about parental leave/benefits, how to deal with BMS (Busy Mom Syndrome), and alleviating mom guilt‚ all were life-savers. One very powerful tip that I received from a superhero mom was that I’d have to learn to let some things go. She sent me a TedTalk by Tiffany Dufu called, ‘Drop the Ball Instead of Trying to Do It All.’ I watched it readily, and it was a gamechanger. And though at first, I cringed and feared that my career or home life could suffer, it turns out letting go of the smaller stuff really does help you stay sane and find balance. You might not be able to do it all, but you absolutely can do the important stuff well, as long as you prioritize. I’m forever grateful for the support and advice of my working mom superhero network. Without them my quick transition to motherhood would not have gone as smoothly.”
New York Life
Name: Angela Huang
Title: Vice President & Actuary
Children: Owen, 9 / Oliver, 7
Location: New York, NY
“Growing up as the youngest of three girls, I witnessed an amazing stay-at-home mother, who handled everything from simple home repairs to distinct homemade meals every night of the week. I knew I wanted to provide a similar experience for my kids as a professional working mother. It was an ideal that I hung on to and aggressively managed my time to fulfill. However, as my two boys reached school age, and with a husband whose work travel seems to have inconveniently increased, the ideal fell victim to basic arithmetic. There simply are not enough hours in a day and it stubbornly took me longer than practical to admit to what felt like my failures. Like all working mothers, I wanted to (and believed I can) do everything: grow a career, make home-cooked meals, chaperone field trips, attend recitals and more. But the fact is, I couldn’t and I had to compromise (not give up) on some of these ideals. For example, although it frustrates me to order takeout food, in return, I gain priceless time with my boys, whether it is storytime or a board game before bedtime. The secret is in compromise. These humbling experiences as a working mom have made me better at my work. I’ve improved in multitasking, prioritizing and compromising when faced with resource constraints. And vice versa, a growing career has made me a better mom. My boys recognize the value of time and are more appreciative and grateful for meals I prepare and school events that my husband or I attend. I am super proud to have raised (for now) a couple of understanding, independent, resourceful, helpful and caring kids. I am very fortunate to have a supportive and accommodating husband who often flexes his schedule around mine to handle childcare duties. And without any help or relatives within a few thousand miles from us, our motto is we’ll make it work, whatever it takes. So far so good, although I smell compromise in the future.”
Novo Nordisk Inc.
Name: Ambre Morley
Title: Senior Director – Commercial Business Unit Portfolio Communications
Children: Ian, 13
Location: Plainsboro, NJ
“In 2010, my career goals were on track, I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary, and my 5-year-old son could name a dinosaur for every letter of the alphabet. It seemed that the thinking that women couldn’t have it all didn’t apply to me—until my world started to crumble in 2011. Within a three-month period, my stepfather was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, and my husband told me he didn’t want to be married anymore.
I remember crying during my commute and listening to Adele on repeat for hours. I had no idea what had happened and how was I going to still be a good mother. ‘Do not let what’s going on at home interfere with your job,’ a wise woman at Johnson & Johnson once told me. It was hard going to work every day and acting like nothing was wrong. But I put on my big-girl pants and stayed focused. By the time I revealed at work that I was getting a divorce, I had earned a promotion.
Prayer and an excellent therapist taught me that I wasn’t a failure because my marriage ended. It just meant that things didn’t work out and I was going to be OK. As a single working mother, I had to be comfortable with not being at every game or birthday party. Instead, I joined carpools and accepted help from my son’s grandparents and babysitter. I also learned that I could take digital photos of the art projects, so my basement didn’t fill up with crafts I’d never see again.
I love my job and the career I’ve built. I’ve had two international assignments, including one in Tokyo this past summer where my mother and son joined me. He is an A student and a wonderful person to be around. I am also in a great relationship with a man who has given me hope in love again.
It has truly taken a village of love and support, but I’m perfectly fine with not having it all. I am living my best life having everything I need.”
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Name: Mary C. Green
Title: Legal Secretary
Children: Sarah, (adult) / Samantha, 13
Location: Citrus Heights, CA
“As a mother, my job is to keep my children from harm. Unfortunately, you cannot childproof your home to protect your children from mental illness. When it became clear that my daughter was struggling, I felt guilty that I had missed the signs earlier because of the hours I kept at work. I have learned, though, that setting aside time to really listen to my daughter has been more important than the sum of the hours that I spend at home with her. Listening and showing empathy for her struggles has brought us closer than just arguing or offering advice. I encourage working mothers to make time to talk with and listen to your children, especially your daughters, about body positivity and self-love in order to combat the negative effects of social media and bullying.
If you have concerns, seek out professional counseling early and take advantage of resources and support at work. I am fortunate that my workplace’s wellness programs actively destigmatize mental health issues and offer many resources for finding and accessing professional counseling. I have been able to be open about my family’s struggles with my manager and my colleagues, and their support has been invaluable. I’ve also leaned heavily on the flexibility of being able to take longer lunch breaks to get the care my daughter needed, and to make up the time later. Most importantly, the best thing you can do is to lead by example and be kind to yourself and get the help you need. You are doing the best you can.”
Name: Jaclyn Strube
Title: Delivery Manager
Children: Major, 5
Location: Waukee, IA
“If there’s anything moms do well, it’s talk about how busy we are. Family time, groceries, sports practices, meetings at work, volunteering, date nights, work emails from home, friend time, you name it, it’s on the list. Most moms (and dads) are very busy. And many wear it like a badge of honor. ‘How are you?’ is answered with, ‘Busy! How are you?’ Next thing you know, we’re swapping to-do lists and commiserating about all the things we must get done before the weekend.
I’ve grown to dread the elevator busyness story swapping. About four years ago, I decided to quit being busy, cold turkey. Never again would I say, ‘I’m so busy’ when someone asked how I was doing. Instead, I vowed to tell them that I was having a great day, excited for a trip, spread a little thin, or managing a lot of moving parts. But not busy.
It isn’t a badge of honor to be busy. We all are! And we all have the same hours in the day. We choose how to spend them. Sure, work is filled with many tasks. It’s called work. We choose how to spend our free time. No time to exercise? Not so. Something else is just a higher priority. No time to cook? That’s OK, it just means you chose to help with homework and now need to call for takeout.
So differentiate yourself and use ‘How are you?’ to form a connection with someone. We spend 40-plus hours working each week. Aren’t the connections what makes it enjoyable? The real conversations behind how we’re feeling are what are important.”
Name: Jenna Fitzsimmons
Title: Managing Director
Children: William, 6 / Everett, 3 / Colin, 1
Location: Cincinnati, OH
“The advice I received this past March from a mentor shouldn’t have come as a surprise, and I am certain it wasn’t the first time it was shared with me, but perhaps sometimes we just need a reminder of how to persevere as a working parent. ‘We value you and we want you to be successful here. It’s in everyone’s best interest that you find the balance you need, so determine what you need, and ask for it.’ It was the reminder that I needed. I couldn’t be afraid to reassess and ask for what I needed, even if my needs had evolved. It’s good advice not just for working moms, but for all working parents. ‘You are valued, and we want you to succeed. What you need isn’t necessarily what the person next to you needs, but don’t be afraid to figure out what your road to success looks like as a working parent and then ask for it.'”
Name: Carly Costantino
Title: Group Media Director
Children: Michael, 9 / Drew, 5 / Ava, 11
Location: Montvale, NJ
“Far too often, the given narrative of working mothers reads ‘success despite motherhood.’ While there is certainly no argument that working a job and raising kids is both a difficult and commendable feat, I defer to the belief of flipping that narrative: Motherhood drives professional success. I am a mother first and a media expert second, yet it is my experiences of raising three wonderful children that have helped drive professional success. I contribute a great deal of my achievements to the learnings that have come from the honor of raising my three children.
Juggling sports games, playdates, field trips and after-school programs for three children requires nothing short of the utmost attention to detail and time management. This skillset has proven to be yet another weapon in my professional arsenal. The scheduling of these day-to-day activities has actually sharpened my abilities to manage work-related challenges.
I strive to dedicate significant time and energy in helping my children develop their unique personalities. I often have mini-dates with each one individually, focusing on an activity, hobby or interest that is exciting for them. In the office, I try to approach every day with similar energy and thoughtfulness. Focusing on team members as individuals helps me foster a happy and effective working environment within the marketing engagement organization and as part of the New York office leadership team.”
Name: Michele DeVito
Title: Senior Director
Children: Olivia, 9 / Emily, 3
Location: Boston, MA
“In 2013, I found myself going through an emotionally devastating divorce from my partner, trying to navigate how this would affect my 4-year-old daughter and stressing about being the best mom I could be while being my best self at work. I also knew I wanted another child‚ a sibling for my daughter. Being 37 years old at the time I was not sure this would be possible. But at 39, I welcomed my second daughter. I am so lucky that my parents, brothers and sister live close by. Their love and support have been unwavering. They have all lifted me up when I needed emotional support and have always been there to help with my children whether it be an overnight when I travel for work or picking up the girls so I can work late or go to a meeting. My colleagues have also been supportive and understanding because my hours, at times, might not be the most conventional.
My experiences have taught me that it’s OK to ask for help. I’ve also become much more organized in both my home and work responsibilities and more empathetic to others. I realize that we don’t always know what is going on in others’ personal lives, and I understand how overwhelming being a mom can be at times while also striving to be a high achiever at work. So I encourage my team members to ask for help, let me know if I am asking too much of them and to work from home when they need to. While it is important to set high goals, it’s also important to focus each day on what you have accomplished, not on what you did not get done. I try to set an example by encouraging flexibility and understanding to enable others to reach their potential, because that is what others have done for me.”
Name: Wendy Michelle Richard
Title: Lead, Public Affairs & Patient Advocacy Immunology
Children: Isabel, 12 / Gabriel, 10
Location: Houston, TX
“Throughout the past 19 years, with a career that has required various degrees of travel, I have had to be creative about balancing my professional and personal responsibilities. Serving people living with chronic disease and illness is my passion and has played a predominant role in all the professional iterations I have taken since 2000. Nevertheless, the demanding pace of our work can take its toll on us, and on those who are closest to us. There are a few practices that I have employed over the years that have helped me to maintain some sense of balance, productivity and connection to my family:
- Integrate our children and families into our jobs as much as we are able. Talk to them about our work and why it matters. Discuss how it makes a difference in the lives of people fighting diseases. This helps my children understand that Mom’s work is meaningful.
- Give back to those around us by investing our time, wisdom and expertise. This enhances our time at work and fortifies us professionally and personally. From a professional perspective, I provide coaching to my peers as requested, formally and informally. In my personal life, I have helped many friends train and run their first marathon. Investing in others to enable them to move into greater possibilities for their lives is something I’m passionate about.
- Most importantly, take care of yourself! If we do not invest in ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually we cannot offer our best selves to our families and vocation. No one is capable of giving what they do not have to offer.”
Name: Theresa Alesso
Title: Division President
Children: Madison, 13 / Mackenzie, 11
Location: Paramus, NJ
“There are advantages and disadvantages to living in today’s environment, where phones enable us to be connected at all times. From executive meetings to softball games I leverage the constant connection and organization scheduling that my cellphone provides. I also find managing a unified life calendar creates more win/win opportunities. I schedule Outlook meetings professionally as well as personally to keep me on point and in the right mindset for the day ahead.
As one of the only females at Sony at this level, I take it very personally to ensure that we create and foster an even more diverse and inclusive working environment both inside and outside of Sony. In order to be successful here, we must find creative ways to support our employees so they get the most out of their life. A happy employee will work harder, and with technology, hopefully smarter, which means more profit and more wins for the corporation.”
Name: Gena Chavez
Title: Senior Specialist, Resolution Services
Children: Hunter, 10
Location: Shawnee Mission, KS
“My dad’s favorite quote is ‘A man’s got to know his limitations.’ He says it frequently when I try to take on too much responsibility or am overwhelmed. He reminds me that it’s OK to say “no” to people because if I overextend myself, then I will be no good for anyone. While this is still a struggle, I’ve learned to let go and delegate without feeling guilty.”
Name: Angela Raggi
Title: HR Director
Children: Brendan, 5 / Bradley, 3
Location: Dallas, TX
“I am a lucky and fortunate working mom. When my boys were 3 and 1, I took one year off from my job in human resources at Texas Instruments to get clarity on what I wanted for myself and my family in terms of career and life at home. My personal learnings and advice for other working moms are:
You don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent. I had to embrace the messiness and imperfection that comes with being a working parent. This has allowed me to have more realistic expectations, be flexible and ask for help. My husband also has a large role at TI and we have to communicate effectively to make things work. I couldn’t do it without him.
I have learned that I am a better parent because I work. At home, we live by the mantra of ‘work hard and be kind to people.’ It’s not easy to leave my kids and go to work every day, but I remind them and myself that it’s important to teach them that you have to work hard for the things you want to accomplish.”
Name: Kimberly Bal
Title: Transportation Manager
Children: Victoria, 8 / John, 6 / Alexander, 4
Location: Middlebury, CT
“I spend a significant amount of my time and energy building amazing teams at work; over the years as a working mom of three, I’ve learned that teambuilding is equally important at home. In my first leadership role, I so badly wanted to be successful and wanted the same for each of my team members. I put in long hours, supported each team member in meetings, helped make decisions and, in some instances, even helped write emails with them. I was able to maintain this pace for some time but struggled to stay just ahead of burnout. As promotions came and the size of my teams grew, I quickly learned that I wasn’t capable of sustaining my expectations without investing the time to learn how to lead through others.
Much the same can be said about parenthood. We give every bit of ourselves to help our babies grow and do everything we can to set them up for success. All the while pacing, just ahead, of burnout. The sleepless nights, stressing over balanced meals, counting minutes of reading time and limiting screen time (just to list a few); and at the end of the day we leave ourselves exhausted and wishing we were capable of more. But the reality is that more isn’t possible. Once I realized I was just one person and extended trust to others, as well as forgiveness to myself, I found myself part of an amazing team at home as well. Chores are shared five ways, siblings help each other with homework, and I ask for help often from my parents. My husband is my strongest teammate and I’ve learned life’s greatest lessons with him by my side. We are far from perfect, but the with the love and support I receive from my family I often feel nothing short of a superwoman.”
Name: Paige Sherman
Title: Manager Program, project management
Children: Lindsay, 15 and Sydney, 17
Location: Warrenton, VA
“While working at Verizon, I have learned from many female coworkers how important it is to have a work-life balance, but not to ever miss your children’s activities, whether it is kindergarten graduation; sporting, music and academic events; or awards ceremonies. I have always made it my top priority to be involved in my kids’ lives, to support them with everything, and to guide them through all of their tough experiences. Many times over the years my kids had to sit through conference calls while I was driving, on vacation, or rushing to go to an event with them. I have always tried to lead by example, to teach them to hold themselves and others accountable and to take responsibility for their mistakes and to always help others. “
Name: Sylena Echevarria
Title: VP, Retirement Readiness Service Center
Children: Nathan, 13 / Madison, 14 / Eddie (adult)
Location: Springfield, MA
“I’ve had the pleasure of working for and learning from some incredible leaders. Advice on how to achieve work-life balance was something everyone liked to share, yet I struggled to find a way to eliminate the guilt I felt anytime I worked late hours in the office and ended up missing the basketball game where my daughter channeled her inner LeBron James, or the guilt of joining a work meeting late because I had to run back home to pick up my son’s trumpet because he forgot it at home, again, the second time that week.
Then, I attended a conference where Ursula Burns, the first black woman CEO to lead a Fortune 500 company, shared many nuggets of professional wisdom. There was one thing she said that I will never forget and live by to this day, ‘Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about being a mother.’
Being a mom is the single most important and demanding job I will ever have; raising kind little humans is tough work! I decided to throw away the idea that I could achieve work-life balance and instead focused on integrating work with life. I don’t stop thinking about work when I go home at the end of the day. Ideas are everywhere. On the flip side, I always think about life too! When I walk into work each day, I don’t have a magic button that allows me to turn off thoughts of my children, husband, family or friends. I choose to integrate it all, and I don’t feel guilty about it.
With integration comes tough decisions. I don’t make it to every sports game. I’m sometimes late to school events. I wrap birthday presents in the car on the way to the party. I do leave a little early occasionally to have fun with my loved ones. I do take time to call the school counselor to chat about ideas for children with Autism to sit with others at lunchtime. All guilt free.
When I eliminate guilt, I’m happier. A happier me is a better mom, wife, friend, employee and leader.”
Name: Saba Belay
Title: Senior Manager, Business Analytics
Children: Abigail, 6 / Adam, 4
Location: Rockaway, NJ
“Over the course of my life and career, I have learned three invaluable pieces of advice from several important women that have helped keep working parent guilt at bay. The first piece of advice comes from my mother, who, to this day, reminds me to ‘give myself a break.’ As a single parent, my mother raised my sister and me in Ethiopia, where she held a full-time job and went back to school to earn her degree, which helped her advance her career. She showed me that it’s 100 percent possible to be a great mom, while pursuing her own goals and passions. To this day, whenever I feel overwhelmed by the daily demands of career and motherhood, or when the inevitable working parent guilt creeps in, I step back and ‘give myself a break.’ There’s no such thing as being perfect all time; when we remove that unnecessary pressure from ourselves, a weight is lifted.
The next piece of advice comes from my mentor at Zoetis, who is a working parent and top executive at our company. The advice she gave me is simple, yet challenging: Be present. When I’m at work, I should focus on my job responsibilities, and when I’m at home, I should focus on my family. That might mean letting go of guilt when I have to attend an important meeting instead of a soccer game or dance recital, but it also means putting my phone away when I walk in the door and not checking it again until my children are asleep. Regardless of the situation, learning to live in the moment has helped me be happier and more productive both at work and at home.
The final piece of advice comes from one of my close friends and colleagues, and that is the importance of having a strong support group of moms at work. All too often, women run themselves ragged trying to appear perfect and make everyone happy. We might not talk openly about our experiences, but silently compare ourselves to others and assume we’re failing in some way. I have learned that when we share our experiences with a trusted group of friends, it helps us realize we are not alone in our struggles (and triumphs!). Taking time to build and nurture these relationships with other working parents can go a long way in increasing our happiness as moms and employees.”