Tag Archives: career

Should work accomodate life?

26 Sep

Penelope Trunk, who writes The Brazen Careerist, wrote yesterday about Harvard changing some admission policies to their MBA program to accommodate women who want to have children and careers. She writes a fascinating post about female GENXers vs. Millenniels and their different approach to work, marriage, and kids.

I think the most interesting idea she poses is not whether life and family should accommodate your work and your career, but that instead maybe we should think about our lives accommodating our work? Its an idea that I truly believe in – but had never heard posed in just that way. I worked in the Silicon Valley for 6 years during the height of the DOT COMs (from 1996-2001) and struggled with the amount of “face time” required by the companies I worked at. The frustrating thing to me — was that people were hanging around at work, just so that they could say that they had been there for X number of hours. I meanwhile am someone who arrived at work before 8am (everyone else rolled in around 10:00), ate lunch at my desk, and powered through my work sot hat I could leave by 6. I felt that working 8 or 9 hours straight – focused and intensely, I was getting so much more done then those people who waltzed in at 10:00 am, took a 2 hour lunch at 1, played XBOX from 5-6 and then went out to dinner, and then came back to the office until 10 or 11 pm.

That being said, when I moved to Oregon, and came to the company where I currently am, I was baffled by the way everyone fled the building at 5:30, as if the school bell hand rung. I stayed until 6:30 or so and felt weird that everyone had left so soon. It felt like they weren’t working hard enough. Then slowly over the next few years as I negotiated deals with partners, talked to vendors, managed strategic accounts, time and time again people were surprised at the size of Palo Alto Software. They were sure it was a company double its size because of the amount of stuff we were able to produce. So why the disconnect? As I worked here I began to understand. People at this company come in by 8:30 am, sit down and do their work. They don’t goof around, they don’t go to the gym, most of them don’t go out to lunch but instead bring lunch and take short breaks. And this is not something enforced by some company time clock. People do this because they can come in and get their work done and then go home and LIVE. You will rarely see people here on the weekends. People do check emails form home and occasionally when needed do work from home.

But overall people who work here are happy people who lead full lives. Whether they go home to wives or husbands and children, or significant others, or hobbies, or whatever, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they go home, leave work at work, relax and do things they want to do. So when they come into work the next day, they are not tired, they are not frustrated, they are not feeling overworked and under appreciated. So they come in and give 200%. And Palo Alto Software reaps the benefits!


No matter what appearance counts

25 Sep

I just read an interesting Post on Work It MOM blog about a VC’s reaction to a woman’s pink nails. The woman and her partnered presented a company to the VC, and apparently did a great job with the presentation. But one of the VC’s could not get beyond the fact she had bright pink nails. Apparently the rest of her outfit was VERY professional — but somehow the nails offended this VC.

Obviously this is wrong – and blatant discrimination. The woman was not dressed inappropriately, she did a great job at the task at hand and her only offense was a personal choice about her grooming. Unfortunately in this world women still have to deal with this type of judgment in the workplace. Somehow because she had pink nails – her intelligence was questioned, and this VC found her whole being to be inappropriate.

The lesson here – dress as you like, groom yourself as you like, but remember the world s NOT fair. Think about where you will be and who you will be working with and what image you want to present. When I know that I am going to be in a high level meeting with top executives, most of whom are male, I dress even more serious, with darker colors, erring on the side of too conservative. Should I have to do this? NO. Shouldn’t my work and my participation be what I am judged on? Yes. But unfortunately this is not the world that we live in. So for the time being – I figure I might as well do everything I can so that I am judged purely on what skills and talent I bring to the table.

Mommy CEO

29 Aug

Recently I transitioned into the role of CEO at Palo Alto Software. It has been an exciting few months as I really sink my teeth into running Palo Alto Software with a new management team. But it has also been exhausting. Besides being the CEO of Palo Alto Software I am also mommy to Timmy, age 3 and Leo age 10 months. I feel like all the juggling that I do at home to make sure that everything runs smoothly with my 2 kids is inspiration for all the multi-tasking required to make sure Palo Alto Software runs smoothly and continues to be prosperous and to grow.

So I try to smoothly transition from breast-feeding and diaper changing, potty time and packing diaper bags, to reviewing product plans, going over marketing strategy, and planning our next fiscal year. As I walk into the office I do a double check — to make sure I don’t have kid stuff smeared on me anywhere.

I have embraced Mommy CEO to its fullest. When I travel for business my kids come with me. I am lucky enough to be able to have my mom come along with me to help me out. I’ll tell you there is nothing better after a long day at a conference, or a day of meetings than to come back to my kids at the hotel. And when possible I take a half day, or travel around a weekend, and take the kids to see the local attractions. How cool is it for me and for them to be able to travel like this? Sure its tiring — I don’t get to sit back and relax on the plane, reading articles or working on my presentation — but I also don’t have to be miles away from my kids in order to still be successful in business.

Despite how chaotic and busy this all sounds I look at my life, and all the things that I juggle and I feel happy. Happy to have such great career opportunities. Happy to have such a supportive incredibly involved husband. Happy to have 2 beautiful children. Happy to be at work. Happy to be at home. Happier if I slept more!