Do you have to pick between your dream job and starting a family?
By Brooke Frederick (VP of Sales and Business Development at PaperG)
My pregnancy was confirmed the same week I was offered my first executive role as VP of Sales and Business Development at PaperG, a San Francisco-based advertising technology startup. Having worked at startups for half of my career, I was well aware of how much time and mental energy were required on a daily basis to succeed. I had grown accustomed to the long hours, last-minute traveling and wearing the multiple hats required in the startup life. But the combination of the demands of such a job with my new motherhood role threatened to be overwhelming.
I had been growing my career for the past 12 years and this executive role was a significant step in my career path. The possibility of having to make a decision between this opportunity and embracing my motherhood role overshadowed the joy that either situation would have brought to my life.
Like several other women facing this dilemma, I felt I was at a fork in the road; the choices appeared to be to either embrace the excellent career opportunity in an environment that may not necessarily have the policies in place to support a new mother and all the risks that that entailed or continue my job search for an opportunity that was more “new mother friendly.”
Balancing Work and Parenting is Tough No Matter What Your Job
With the help of a supportive husband, I was able to critically analyze the situation and realized this wasn’t an either/or decision. The decision appeared to be a lot easier to arrive at than I had originally envisaged. My husband and I had rationalized that all jobs, even the most conventional ones, presented situations that required innovative approaches and techniques to deal with evolving scenarios. My startup job could be as challenging as any other job that may not have appeared so initially. Further, the parenting role was an uncharted course for us and therefore we had to be prepared to face any challenges that it could pose. With that approach to the situation, I accepted the job and I’ve never looked back.
My husband and I have successfully adapted to our new lifestyle. We work together and share the responsibilities of parenthood equally with no big difference to our working lives except that I have the urge to gush every so often about my adorable little boy. Startup life is definitely demanding and the hours can be long, but it also brings with it some flexibility to work from home on some occasions. I now have a stricter schedule, which has facilitated a more efficient and productive use of my time both at home and the office.
My success on this path can be attributed significantly to the support of my husband and PaperG. When I started at PaperG, they did not have a maternity/paternity policy in place — but as with most startups, their policies and benefits structure is evolving. The company has since institutionalized a maternity/paternity leave policy, and they’ve conducted a study on the state and implementation of maternity/paternity leave policies at other startups to establish some common ground and benchmarks for the space.
Based on my own experience, I am now dedicated to playing an active role in making PaperG an environment where parents can have a fulfilling career and family life and I am proud to have been a pioneer, navigating the waters for other new parents in the company.
Do you agree that the flexible startup environment makes it easier to juggle parenting and work?
About the guest blogger: Brooke Frederick is VP of Sales and Business Development at PaperG, a programmatic creative company. Prior to PaperG from Brooke served as the director of sales at ad-tech startup Bizo. While at Bizo, Brooke significantly grew the company’s revenue. She has over 12 years of digital sales experience through her previous positions with top media outlets including Condé Nast, Time Inc., and VideoEgg (now SAY Media). Connect with her on LinkedIn.