For generations, women were taught to put their kids and family first. Girls were often compelled to drop out of schools to help their moms at home and get trained to be good wives and mothers. Over the years, things have changed, but when it comes to compromising, it is mainly the woman in the family that is forced to quit her job and become a full-time parent. Sure, some women do, and they do an excellent job because motherhood is no walk in park! In today's culture, women not only run a happy household with their spouse and kids, but also excel at work in leadership roles.
This Mother's day, let's get into the minds of 3 Boss Moms who are senior executives at large corporate firms. She Alpa Company Interviewed 3 Mom Bosses from Tampa Bay and NYC to unravel their secrets and tell us more about Mom vs. Boss life.
So who exactly is a Boss Mom?
Boss Mom: [noun] She's an ambitious, highly driven woman who balances her career and kids at home...also known as badass moms - Urban Dictionary
So then the question is, why are there such mixed views towards working moms?
"There she goes again, strutting in those stilettos, leaving her family alone for another business conference."
"She's always in such a hurry. Why can't she volunteer at school for her kid?"
"Well, you know what they say, working moms can never be perfect moms."
How many times have you heard moms judging other moms? All the time can be an entirely right answer. The cold war between moms with a high flying career vs. stay at home moms is not new. In fact, there's a common misconception that only career-driven moms are working moms. Truth be told, all moms work 24/7 but all of them do it differently. Now that we've brushed that out of our way, for the ones who are still wondering - who's a Boss Mom, and how does she manage it all?
Meet our 3 mom bosses who have gone above and beyond to strike a balance and have the best of both worlds. We interviewed these fearless women and here is what we asked them....
HOW DID YOU BREAK THIS MYTH - "WOMEN'S CAREER TAKES A BACK SEAT WHEN SHE HAS KIDS"?
Wendy Culpepper (Chief Customer officer, Kobie Marketing) - I had two big promotions in the first three years of having my first child. I moved up from a senior director to a senior executive member. I saw an extreme acceleration in my career after having kids. A lot of my drivers and motivators came from an ownership mentality because I used to run my own business before. The time when I felt most vulnerable in my career as a new mom, I knew I wanted to make value-driven contributions to the top line of the company. I played with my strengths of building teams, and I made a conscious decision to take on leadership, which will overshadow any limitations I had from a time perspective and allow flexibility as a new mom. And in my case, it worked! That being said, I was fortunate to be recognized by my management. For your career to advance as a new mom, the work culture needs to be really supportive. As long as you prove as a productive employee, the rest will follow along. "If you're curiosity-driven, you will push yourself to take up roles outside your comfort zone just to learn, and that makes you prepared from a leadership perspective."
Laura Pozo (VP, Merrill Lynch): If you want to advance in your career after having kids, you need to start establishing yourself as a valuable asset at the workplace. I've been with Merrill Lynch for over seven years. As a new mom, I don't think a lot has changed before and after maternity leave. As a Vice President at work and a mom at home, my responsibilities and performance only got better. Initially, it was tough to adapt to this new life change, but I gradually got the hang of it. Motherhood didn't change my work ethic; it only made me better at prioritizing, and I'm learning to manage my time well with both. "As type-A personalities, you will try to be the super mom, but you'll soon realize balance is not a real thing."
Janice Brill (IT Managing Director, PWC): I work for a company that's very supportive of working moms. I remember vividly, I had an event at my son's preschool, and I had a presentation with my leadership at the same time. I gave the presentation in my car, knowing that I was getting late to the preschool event. I learned from that incident that if I were transparent with my company, I wouldn't have had to be in that tricky situation. Now I make it a point to talk about family commitments at work to make other women comfortable. "As a new mom it's okay when you choose to put your family first, but it's important to give yourself that permission and have an open conversation with your company."
AS A WORKING MOM, WERE THERE INSTANCES WHEN YOU FELT MOM GUILT, AND HOW DID YOU COPE WITH IT?
Wendy Culpepper (Chief Customer officer, Kobie Marketing) - Mom guilt is real. Happens all the time, and it's painful. My husband works on Saturdays, so I get to spend time with my kids on an exclusive basis. But no matter what I do, I guilt myself for doing better. 'I could've done better art projects' or 'I could've taken them to the park' or 'I could've been more invested and less distracted.' When you're a working mom, you want to spend as much time possible with the kids. My husband reminds me to value myself and does little things like leaving a secret note - 'you're the best mom ever. He manages to lower my guilt to a great deal. "We often associate mom guilt to working moms, but I think mom guilt is pervasive to any kind of motherhood. Truth is you can never be a perfect mom."
Laura Pozo (VP, Merrill Lynch): As a Type-A, I always strived to be perfect. As a new mom, I realize not everything is in my control. It's okay if things don't go as planned. It doesn't mean you're a bad mom. I find solace in knowing that I did the best I can, and my child is loved. Whenever I feel the mom guilt rising, I practice gratitude. Spending more time with my baby also makes me feel calmer.
"Getting the job done is sometimes better than being perfect."
Janice Brill (IT Managing Director, PWC): I used to feel horrible. I couldn't undo it, but I learned from those situations. There are times my workday runs late, or problems happen at home/work. I've now started to explain 'why' to my kids and at my workplace. For example, when I drop my son off to school every day, I make sure this our exclusive time together. But sometimes, if there is an urgent work call, I would explain to my kid why I have to take this call."Try to bring the worlds together, Because you can't separate work and family completely. If you include them and be transparent with them, it helps immensely."
IF OUR FUTURE MAMAS COULD USE SOME TIPS, WHAT IS SOME ADVICE FOR MANAGING A DEMANDING JOB AT WORK AND BABIES AT HOME?
Wendy Culpepper (Chief Customer officer, Kobie Marketing) - When it really comes down to making the hard decision, you have to go internal. As a new mom navigating work and career, the more external influence you allow, the more confused you become. This is your personal journey, and you have to do what's right for you and your family. Make those choices and hold to them. Look for an environment where you are comfortable asking, and they are comfortable trusting you. As a working mom, there will be moments that you'll miss. But you have to own your decisions at the end of the day. Pro-tip is to and have an open dialog at your workplace and with your family. "I make up for the time lost by spending time with the kids and also try to be the calm and steady mom. It's super hard, but I know it is the right thing to do for my kids."
Laura Pozo (VP, Merrill Lynch): My biggest tip for new working moms is to not be hard on yourself. As working moms, you spend half the time putting out fires at work and the other half at home. We get so busy that we tend to forget about our health and peace. Sleep training your kids from the start goes a long way. I unwind my day after putting my kid to bed. I use those precious hours at night to journal and blog. And I start my day earlier to go for a quiet walk and spend some "me time". "Give yourself some space and grace. "
Janice Brill (IT Managing Director, PWC): If you're a new mom, be prepared for unplanned things because your kids will get sick, and you'll have to take time off. My advice is to be open about such situations with your team at the workplace. As your kids get older, you will be in a better position to set boundaries at work and stick to it. Also, never miss important occasions! I remember I had a work meeting out of the country, and I took an early morning flight after celebrating my kid's birthday. If you're in a high demanding role at work, you have to learn to be flexible. And this goes without saying, having a supportive spouse is supremely helpful! "You have to give yourself permission to be okay. You can't be everything to everybody. You shouldn't let yourself stand in your own way."
TO ALL THE MOMS WORKING HARD AND ROCKING THOSE EXECUTIVE ROLES WHILE ALSO BALANCING A HEALTHY FAMILY BALANCE - YOU GOT THIS, AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Wishing all the moms who are the ultimate bosses - Happy Mother's Day!
Source: The above prose are excerpts from the interviews with Wendy Culpepper, Janice Brill, and Laura Pozo with Anjali Nair. All opinions and answers are of their own.
Written by: Anjali Nair
Lifestyle Blogger and Founder of ‘A Desi Girl in US’ in Tampa, Florida. When she’s not blogging and coaching immigrant women of color in the United States, she’s traveling around the coast, creating content, watching Bollywood movies, and eating up some spicy food. Follow her adventures at @adesigirlinus and subscribe to her Blog.