By Akshita Puram, Product Marketing Manager at SmartBear
I remember the first time I walked into an interview with my purse and my breast pump in hand. Full-day interviews when you are still pumping are not easy. There are no breaks. You're sleep deprived, and you want the job so you feel like you can't say anything.
You do everything to be clear, concise, and confident in your answers, but in the back of your mind you are thinking, "I really should pump, or I might explode." I found myself in this situation time and time again during all-day client workshops or half-day seminars. Whether you have a newborn at home or are a seasoned mother, being a working mom is not easy.
Working moms are constantly thinking about what they can do better, what more they can teach their kids, and what else they can do to improve a business's line at work.
I was recently asked by a colleague what my superpower was. Aside from building out the go-to-market strategy for products in my portfolio
, I couldn't help but think my superpower was my capabilities as a mother. Moms are wired in a whole different way, and they have qualities that greatly benefit companies.
Working Moms Thrive on Connecting with People, and They Are Good at It
put the average age of first birth at 26.6 years old, meaning the majority of the workforce has children. I have been in countless in-person or telemeetings, and more times than not, I can either hear a child in the background, see a photo of a child in a background of a video chat, or have a customer tell me about a family vacation they are about to embark on.
Other than fellow parents, we also relate to those who do not have children, as we think of that part of our life fondly, too and like to hear about the latest song, Snapchat filter, or even dating app.
Working moms have gone through so many life experiences, allowing us to quickly relate through compassion, insight, and cues that others may miss. We can connect with customers and teams in ways others cannot.
Working Moms Think Big Picture, Yet Know When Quality Comes from Attention to Detail
"I have learned so much by being a working mom—about myself and about others. I also have much more empathy and enjoy being a team player. I do my best to try to help my colleagues because I know about bad and tough days. I give people the benefit of the doubt when they aren't themselves because something may be going on at home, but I know they will plug back into work once that issue is resolved. The work dynamics thrive with the compassion we give to one another." —Dr. Deepa M. Gopal, MD MS, Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Medicine.
Working moms learn quickly what the critical path is. We have to triage and prioritize when things come out of left field, but ultimately decisions are motivated by a love for our kids, a love that drives us to teach them, make them smile, and maintain their innocence.
A version of these same principles extends to work. Working moms know the power between designing a minimum viable product with key features versus a fully-packaged deliverable. We know the impact of getting quick competitor notes to sales versus a client presentation or detailed data analysis. We know when to keep the big picture in mind versus being detail-oriented because like a child's growth, the company's success is what matters.
You Can Count on Working Moms
I still remember my first day returning to work.
My oldest daughter was still adjusting to having a little sister, and the night before my return, my 6-week-old and my 21-month-old decided to wake up at the same time— 3 a.m. In short, I made it into work before anyone was in the office.
Anyone who can stay up all night and work all day, multiple nights in a row, is someone you can count on. Despite the sleepless nights filled with pacing and rocking, working moms know how to put our game face on and give our all to the multifaceted demands upon us.
Working Moms Don't Have Time to Mess Around
Working moms are constantly running against the clock and estimating how much they can accomplish in the next hour, day, and week. We want to optimize our time at work to accomplish our responsibilities and career goals, as well as our time at home.
At work, I recently adopted the Pomodoro Technique
, a time management method a fellow working mom told me about. The technique uses a timer to break down your work into 25-minute intervals accompanied by five and ten-minute breaks.
You set a few things to accomplish in a day that you know you can end the day being proud of. You then set how many intervals it takes to accomplish each task. You start the timer, and if you get the slightest bit distracted by a conversation, text, Slack, etc., you have to restart. Eventually, you get better about allocating time toward tasks and remain focused. Right now, my timer reads 11:37.
Life hacks like the Pomodoro Timer
I have running in the background and my Inbox Zero
are two of many ways I am able to better manage my time than many others because, as a working mom, I need to optimize what I can achieve in a day.
Working Moms Are Experts at Multitasking
"Being a working mom can be extremely challenging and time-consuming, but it is this situation that has not only made me a super-mom, but also a super-worker. With the limited time I have as a mom, you tend to prioritize the things that are important to you. This has, in turn, made me realize my professional goals and commit and pursue them enthusiastically. I find myself a lot more driven, focused, and efficient at work, for both the betterment of myself and my company." —Ankita Kumar, Sr. Software Engineer, Intel Corporation
The word 'multitasking' dates back to the 60s and originally referred to a single CPU used for the simultaneous processing of two or more jobs. Given that "working" and "mom" are two different jobs, it is not surprising that the term demands expertise in multitasking.
At home, working moms are superheroes, juggling bagged lunches to household expenses to child transportation, and at work, they are worker bees on steroids.
The balance of being a working parent is not always seamless, but only when I try to do both jobs at the same time. I used to read company annual reports as I rocked my daughter to sleep and to some extent still do, but I found greater happiness when I compartmentalized.
If I am with my kids, I am with them—physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And if I am working, I am equally committed—I am efficient, focused, and in complete "get stuff done" mode. If you are hesitating on hiring a working mom, don't be. They will be your next rock star, wired for meteoric success.
About the Author:
Akshita Deora Puram is a mom of two young girls and a product marketing manager at SmartBear for its software testing portfolio, which includes award winning tools such as TestComplete, TestLeft, CrossBrowserTesting, and Hiptest. Akshita has over 10 years in the software technology industry, working at Salesforce.com as a strategic consultant and as a visiting scientist at MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. She has an MBA from MIT Sloan and has also been published by DZone, TheNewStack, Capgemini, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, MIT Sloan, and SmartBear.