6 Women on Work and Motherhood
Filed in: Your Career
Many of the women we’ve interviewed over the years have at least two jobs: their 9-to-5 (or, you know, 6-to-10) and their role as “parent.” We’ve paid homage to the mothers in our midst before, and had candid conversations about the challenges, surprises, and rewards of parenting while pursuing a career they’re passionate about. Below, six women share how they get it done.
Sallie Krawcheck, Founder and CEO of Ellevest
ON ABANDONING STANDARDS: “I was a mediocre mother all the way through… What was tough in my generation was that if I made a choice [about motherhood or work] that was different from your choice, somehow that put us at odds, or meant your choice was wrong—that was the point of view. It was ‘mommy wars.’ The fact that we all make different choices: Who gives a damn? Just get over it. Just live and let live.
The best career advice I ever got, would you believe it, came from my mother, who never worked a day outside the home in her life. She was a stay-at-home mom, a homemaker. I had just had my second child, a little girl, and my mother came up to visit. I was a research analyst at Sanford Bernstein, and we sat outside a restaurant and I started to cry. I said, ‘I’ve got a toddler, I’ve got a baby, I’ve got a job, I’ve got a husband, I can’t sleep, we’re not sleeping, I’m so tired, I don’t know if I can do this.’ My mother turned to me, and said in that way only mothers can, ‘Well of course you can! You’re just going to be tired for a while.’ And I thought, ‘Oh! Okay! Of course I can do this, I’m just going to be tired for a while.’”
Karen Cahn, Founder and CEO of iFundWomen
ON TIME MANAGEMENT… AND SLIME: “I’m not going to paint a rosy picture—the first year of a startup is all-consuming. I’m not meditating, which I know I should. I’m not doing yoga, which I love. I’m a single mom trying to be there for my kids. I’m probably getting a B-minus or a C-plus in that department right now. Apparently, I was the last mom in suburbia to outlaw the making of ‘slime’ in her house—it’s Elmer’s glue and baking soda, kids love it, and it ruins everything. Moms will know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I didn’t know about it until it was too late.”
Jennifer Kherani, Director of Summus
ON MATERNITY LEAVE… OR LACK THEREOF: “I had my first son when I was in residency. I front-loaded the harder rotations, but I was still working when I was 41 weeks pregnant. You only get six weeks of leave, unless you want to delay graduation. After my son was born, my mom and my mother-in-law came and stayed with us; they would basically trade months. Luckily, we were in hospital housing at the time, so I could pop home during the day when I needed to. Family had a lot to do with how I chose my post-residency career, and even the trajectory for Summus. When I was still working at the hospital, I did night shifts so that I could be with my kids during the day.”
Elizabeth Burton, Investment Portfolio Manager for the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System
ON TRADING SHIFTS WITH DAD: “Before I had kids, I used to work constantly. But now I think, ‘There’s only so much I can get done. What are the high-level things? What can I delegate?’ I also worked out a schedule with my current job where I’m there from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and then I go spend time with the kids; my husband takes care of them in the morning, so we switch off.”
Romy Newman, Co-founder of Fairygodboss
ON BEING HOME FOR DINNER: “I grew up thinking I could be a CEO, but after my daughter was born, I realized that being a senior executive in a corporate function wasn’t compatible with being the kind of parent I wanted to be. It was startling. As I adjusted to life as a mom, I realized this wasn’t a one-year thing. This was a twenty-year thing. It’s not only going to matter if I make it home for dinner this year; it will be better if I’m home for dinner for the next twenty years. So I left my full-time job in marketing to consult, and ultimately, I reconnected with Georgene to launch [Fairygodboss]. There’s a real tension between being a successful executive and being a great parent, and we want to inspire companies to improve their policies to help relieve this tension for both men and women.”
Lisa Choi Owens, Chief Revenue Officer at TED
ON BEDTIME RITUALS: “I’m pretty good about not doing email when I get home. I try to get home by 7:00 p.m. to spend some quality time with my kids. It’s not a meal, because they eat earlier than me, but I want to hear about their day. I read to them. They’re nine and 11, so they’re kind of old for it, but it’s our thing.”