BIO Michelle Meyer is the Founder & CEO of Emissaries, a recruiting agency specializing in covering parental leaves via a nationwide network of vetted freelancers and “supertemps.” Emissaries connects high-quality, seasoned freelance talent with contract work, temp gigs and other awesome projects. Previously, Michelle spent 15 years working for some of the most innovative and iconic companies in the media, tech, and entertainment industries. Nearly half of those 15 years were spent freelancing, mainly filling maternity leaves in NYC, Silicon Valley, and L.A....which inspired her to launch emissaries.co in November 2015. Workplace equality, working parents, work-life integration and the growing independent contractor workforce are at the heart of Michelle's mission with Emissaries.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? In September, Emissaries will launch a new online talent platmarketplace making sourcing and connecting with qualified freelancers turnkey, transparent and affordable. Say you're looking for a freelancer from October-December in San Francisco with content marketing, lead generation and copywriting skills in a particular industry - our self-service search tool at emissaries.co will populate pre-vetted, industry-expert freelancers who fit that exact description. You can search our database of freelancers with a variety of specific search fields. Plus, unlike other freelance marketplaces, no additional fees apply for hiring, we don’t promote project bidding nor do we take a cut of freelancers’ pay. Pending any unforeseeable health issues, I will be actively working on fine-tuning the user experience and growing the user base from now until my daughter arrives in November. I'm definitely in high-growth mode!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? I've found that pregnancy has pushed me to expedite my professional goals. I've been so focused, excited and energized. I launched Emissaries at the end of November 2015 and four months later, I found out I was pregnant. Such a blessing but not the plan. My OB/GYN told me that at 34 years old it would most likely take 6-8 months to conceive...it took two weeks. One of my immediate thoughts that day was: "what am I going to do with Emissaries?" I'm constantly advocating and evangelizing for parental leave and I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't make a plan for my growing business. So I devised a plan to build and launch a self-service, online platform that will enable my business to grow while I spend a few months prioritizing my daughter's health. Pregnancy has not been a disadvantage for me professionally; it has been incredibly positive because I can better relate to the families and teams I'm helping and because when else do you plan your professional and personal 6-12 month goals in this much detail? I have pregnancy to thank. Building Emissaries' marketplace is a big undertaking, from a financial investment as well as the amount of time, thought and research I'm putting into scaling my business. During pregnancy your body morphs so quickly and in some ways, my expanding business is in parallel with this accelerated growth.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? Last I checked, it takes 40(ish) weeks to make a baby so you have almost a year to plan the next steps for your career! Try to arrange for a slightly flexible work schedule so you can make time for all your doctor appointments, get in some exercise, stay sane, etc. See if your company will subsidize pre/post natal support, parental leave coaching, on-demand childcare, etc. There are several new companies in the parental leave ecosystem - take advantage of their offerings! My favorites: Instacare, Center for Parental Leave Leadership, LeaveLogic and Helpr. Planning for the next 6-12 months of your personal life forces you to think about your professional plans as well. Indulge in the forward-planning mindset you'll be in.
BIO Jennifer Siegert is Head of Sales for The Coveteur, the leading destination for a luxurious, behind-the-scenes look at all things fashion, lifestyle and culture. With over a decade of experience, Siegert oversees the sales team and leads in building out sales and integrated partnerships for the brand. Prior to joining The Coveteur, Siegert was the International Fashion Director at InStyle, where she significantly increased digital revenue through buys with high fashion brands. She also has previous sales experience working at reputable magazines and newspapers, including Details, Travel + Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, and Teen Vogue, where she was awarded Sales Person of the Year in 2013.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? The Coveteur hired me last September to create and scale a dynamic sales team. Over the past year, we have grown our sales team significantly, over doubled our revenue year over year and have broken many of the best known luxury brands in the world. As we head into 2H, my main focus is on scaling the business even further, setting ourselves up for major growth in 2017. I am also spearheading some big initiatives around NYFW, The Coveteur's coffee table book launch in October, and a major Art Basel activation in Miami this December in partnership with BFA.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? It is more important to me than ever that I have a job where I am passionate about the brand, respect and truly enjoy the people I work with, and feel that I am making a difference. I have no doubt that going back to work is going to be hard (and I know I will feel guilty at times for not staying at home with my daughter) so having a job that fulfills me and where I know I will have the support of the people in my company and flexibility is absolutely essential. I am also fortunate and grateful to have a very involved husband whom I know will help make this work/life balance possible. I have always been a planner and highly motivated, but more so now than ever as I count down the weeks to my maternity leave. My focus is planning for the next 6 months and making sure that my team is fully ready and prepared during my absence so that our goals through the end of the year and going into 2017 are met.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? As I get closer to my due date, I have anxieties on how I am going to do it all - be a great mom, continue to be a successful business woman, have time for my husband, see my friends and keep up with my normal workout schedule. I think understanding that there is no perfect formula to work/life balance while always prioritizing each day around what’s most important is essential. Be kind to yourself and remember that you are doing the best you can.
BIO Allyson Downey is an entrepreneur, MBA, writer, and parent who has built a career on the power of trusted advice. In 2013, she launched weeSpring, a Techstars-backed startup that helps new and expecting parents collect advice from their friends about what they need for their baby. weeSpring has received accolades from TechCrunch, Mashable, CNBC, and the Daily Mail, and it was heralded as “Yelp for baby products” by InStyle magazine. She is also the author of Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood (Seal Press, 2016). She’s written for publications like Time, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal about women, work, and family, and she’s been a speaker at NYU Stern, Columbia Business School, and Women 2.0. She has appeared on ABC World News Now, Power Pitch on CNBC, and other outlets. Allyson has an MBA from Columbia Business School, an MFA from Columbia University's School of the Arts, and a BA from Colby College. She serves on the board of Democracy Prep Public Schools, one of the country's top charter management organizations, and lives in Boulder with her husband and two children.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? Coming soon!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? Coming soon!
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? Coming soon!
BIO Jamie is an NFL Agent and a Partner at a boutique law firm in Chicago. After putting herself through school at The University of Michigan she moved to the Windy City to pursue her passion for the law at The University of DePaul Law School. Although she married her college sweet-heart, a then Punter in the NFL, in her mid-20s she and her husband put off having children until her late 30s so that she could focus on her career. She joined her current firm in 2008 and made partner within two years. She is a Certified NFL Agent and has built her law practice around Employment Law. She successfully defends and advises management on employment matters such as hiring and firing practices, wage claims like equal pay and retaliation and discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. She has been named to the Illinois Rising Stars list, an honor reserved for only 2.5 % of attorneys in Illinois for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice. She leads a Women's Marketing Group and mentors female associates in an effort to get more women to stay in the practice of law.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? With a baby due in early February and a trial scheduled for late October and another in early March (an Equal Pay Act case in federal court), I am busy preparing for trials while working my remaining caseload and managing those Associate attorneys working with me. As an NFL agent, since this is football season, I must also stay on top of the game (literally), and hustle to get my free agent clients on a team.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? This is my second pregnancy and both pregnancies have encouraged me to focus more on the future of my career and have helped me to figure out that the key to being a successful law firm partner is developing my own book of clients. This helps me to excel in my firm and also creates independence and more flexibility for me. This is one of the reasons I became an NFL Agent. I don't want clients to pass me over because they think "Oh, she will soon be on maternity leave." In the grand scheme, it is such a short time that we are out of the office and I want people to understand that pregnant or not, I am in this for the long haul. As such, I focus more of my efforts on marketing and building on the client relationships that I have. Being pregnant and having children has helped me relate more to my clients with families, but also to the workplace culture and its relationships with pregnant and working women. I can better advise and defend businesses on these relationships and policies because I have been there myself. And finally, it has made me want to be a better mentor for the women in my office - to show them how you can be successful in this career and have a family. Too many women are leaving the law, especially law firms, and I want to help change that.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? With the right help, you really can do it all. Surround yourself with those that support your decisions to have a successful career and family - friends, colleagues, mentors and family. It really does take a village, so do not be afraid to delegate and ask for help, both at home and at work. I am very fortunate that when my husband retired from the NFL, he started his own business training other kickers and punters which has led to a very flexible schedule where he can stay home with our daughters three days a week and carries a lot of the load. Ask for help, but also continue to help and support other women - it will come back to you, I promise. I waited until my late 30s to have children because I wanted to become a partner and establish myself in my career before starting a family, and that worked for me, but it is not for everyone. You have to figure out the timing that is best for you, but remember sometimes the timing is not always in your control. If you wait until later, it may take a lot longer than you anticipated, as it did for my husband and me. Rather than waste my energy on guilt, I focus on being a role model for my daughters. For them to grow up seeing a mother that has balance and loves going to work every day is an invaluable lesson. Although it is hard, make sure to take some time for yourself each day – even if it is 10 minutes to exercise, meditate, read or whatever it is that you like to do. You will be a better mom, wife and business person if you do. Stay grounded and don't sweat the small stuff - be flexible but stay focused on the big picture. If you love what you do and surround yourself with supportive people, you will be successful at work and at home.
BIO Talia is the CEO and founder of Three Day Rule. After studying communication at Tulane University, Talia worked as a TV producer at E! True Hollywood Story, where she quickly became the office dating expert, setting up many co-workers with matches and handing out insightful dating advice from her cubicle. Recognizing her hidden talent for matchmaking, Talia quit her full-time job and began hosting popular singles events and offering personalized matchmaking services. Three Day Rule was officially created in 2013, allowing Talia to turn her lifelong hobby of matchmaking into a thriving business. After receiving an investment from Match/IAC in 2014, Talia has also secured partnerships with OkCupid, JDate, Christian Mingle and The League. Talia has appeared on Good Morning America, and has been featured in Fortune, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and more. Leveraging her extensive network of successful, attractive singles, Talia has found matches for hundreds of clients, including top executives, entrepreneurs, celebrities and everyday young professionals. She has made it her mission to help clients on their quest to find true love, and is thrilled that her work allows her to make a difference in people's lives. Talia lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? Three Day Rule is currently in seven cities and we're adding more matchmakers to scale!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? I've been pregnant twice while running Three Day Rule and both times I did not have one free minute to rest. Aside from my massive belly, I acted like every other member on my team. I hustled, attended events and fundraised. I have had the luxury of fundraising twice pregnant. The first time I hid my pregnancy by wearing trench coats in 90 degree weather and closed my funding quickly. The second time I decided to own my pregnancy, wear tight dresses and not be ashamed. I had investors ask me to stand up and twirl around and others who spent an abnormal amount of time asking me baby related questions. Of the nine investors who invested in that round, not one put money in while meeting me pregnant. They all met me before or after I had the baby. There is a very real and unfair stigma today about pregnant female founders. Being a mother and a founder should not be mutually exclusive terms.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? There will never be a good time - EVER. If you want a family, do it. You will find a way to make it work.
BIO Matilda leads the digital media strategy group at the National Football League (NFL) where she oversees the business planning around the League’s core US digital initiatives. Matilda specializes in digital strategy planning, growth acquisitions, turnarounds, and digital transformation; her expertise lies in digital portfolio optimization, e-commerce strategy and new venture investments. Matilda started her career in investment banking in London and then New York and eventually moved to the West Coast to obtain her Masters in Business Administration from UC Berkeley. Since graduation she has honed in on a technology and digital focus, working at McKinsey and Co. where she served clients across various industries (technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, retail) on their digital needs. Beyond her business strategist persona, she is also a philanthropist, and a mom. As a former ballerina she maintains close to the dance community as both a dance instructor with the Manhattan Beach School of Dance & Music and a regular at Los Angeles Ballet’s events. Matilda also leads the fundraising committee within the women’s group at the Southern California Golf Association Junior. As a working mother of (almost) two boys, she is extremely passionate about maintaining a healthy work/life balance and believes there is much more that corporate America can do in support.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? Currently pulling together the NFL’s 5 year strategic plan for digital media!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? I am certainly conscious of being pregnant while at work and am acutely aware of the stereotypes and biases that can come with that. At first this recognition made me self-conscious and at times overly anxious. I have learnt to take this opportunity to break those stereotypes by continuing to be a star performer but also using this time to educate people on the challenges that our work environments can pose to pregnant women and working mothers. It’s not just about us leaning in but also our colleagues, our leaders, our government leaning in.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? There will be compromises and tradeoffs in life and more so when it comes to balancing family and career. Be honest with yourself and your partner and family about what the tradeoffs are and make sure you are ok with them. It’s ok to see your values change over time – we are humans and we change and grow daily. Just make sure you are attuned to your own self regularly and communicate often to those around you as to what is important to you.
BIO Devon Kisgen is the Director, Integrated Marketing at Los Angeles magazine. She is responsible for crafting custom marketing programs for clients utilizing the media’s entities in print, digital and experiential. Her specialty is in creating, producing and executing sophisticated and memorable events bringing the magazine and/or clients to life. Prior to Los Angeles magazine, Devon worked in marketing and communications for Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier in New York City. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband and their vivacious 2-year-old daughter...and is expecting her second girl in just a few short weeks!
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? I am currently working on two very important initiatives for the magazine that are coming up this fall. In September, Los Angeles magazine will present its annual LA Woman issue, which celebrates female leaders who make an impact on the city – through philanthropy, civic responsibility, technology and more. I'm the lead producer on the 6th annual LA Woman Power Luncheon, which will host 200 ladies at the Four Seasons Los Angeles for an inspiring afternoon honoring the 2016 women named in the issue. In October, Los Angeles magazine presents its annual The Food Event at Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu. I've executed this event for the past 8 years and it now sees over 3,000 guests, 40 top Los Angeles restaurants and 25 wineries - it is the ultimate foodie experience not to miss!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? This is my second pregnancy at the magazine and although it is familiar it is not easy! Being a mom has significantly changed me personally and professionally. I have always been a dedicated employee and skilled multitasker but priorities change and to stay focused and successful is a lot of work. It is a constant struggle but I love what I do at home and in the office so it keeps me going. And working to support a family is the greatest motivation!
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? That is exactly what it is…so if you love the hustle than go for it! There will be tough times or days but the successes when juggling both are so much more rewarding. Stay focused, keep calm and have fun!
BIO Renee is a brand marketing specialist with experience leading projects focused on brand strategy and communications as well as product, service and experience design. As a lead collaborator at co:collective, she is responsible for leading client engagements with Fortune 500 companies looking to define their brand and innovation strategy. To put it simply, Renee and her team at co: help design the businesses of the future. Prior to joining co:collective, Renee led teams at leading advertising agencies Anomaly New York as well as Droga5 and M&C Saatchi (both in Sydney) across clients in retail, telecommunications, financial services, hospitality, liquor, not-for-profit and travel. Renee has twice been recognized as a finalist in Australia's 30 under 30 in the communications industry. Originally from Australia, Renee yearns for the beach most of the year and spends a lot of time of planes. Married to a Brit, she can make a perfect cup of tea and their first child due in January will have claim to 5 passports - truly a global baby!
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? It's hard to name just one! Currently, I'm working with 2-3 large clients on strategic branding and innovation projects that are all launching in Q4. In addition, my boss recently went out on maternity leave (she had a gorgeous baby girl) so I've stepped into her role to lead the client services team at co: which involves mentoring the team, making strategic resourcing decisions and managing operations. Plus, just when you think you might have it under control, there's always pitching for new business!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? There was always some trepidation in the back of my mind that I'd get pregnant and lose interest in my career which I've been so passionate about for so long. It was almost as though that might have to fizzle in order for me to have space for a child. In reality, the opposite has happened. I have renewed energy to achieve my goals and have found extra motivation in both demonstrating that pregnant women are just as capable if not more. I have a renewed interest in defining my goals for the next 5 years and refocusing on what the future of my career could be. I'm also very lucky to be surrounded by strong female leaders who are constant reminders that you really can do anything you put your mind to.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? Don't let the stereotypes scare you - if you want to have a family and still have a career, you can. Don't wait for the perfect time, there isn't one. Trust yourself enough to know you'll make it work - you're already a girl boss, you'll become a pregnant boss!
BIO Jeana is currently the Senior Director of National Events at entertainment giant iHeartMedia. She started with the company when iHeartRadio was just beginning, and a large part of her role was to create the platforms that would bring the new brand to life to consumers and clients alike. Four and a half years later, Jeana has been instrumental in the success of iHeartRadio’s growth and exposure. On a daily basis, she is responsible for conceptualizing and producing all of the ancillary events that take place around iHeartRadio’s original events on a national level. She produces the company's B2B event activations as well. Prior to her current job at iHeartMedia, Jeana was with MTV Networks for nine years where she grew within the company coordinating events and experiences at the MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Movie Awards, CMT Music Awards, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and BET Awards, to name only a few. Jeana is incredibly passionate about events, and when not planning them professionally, is planning them personally for family and friends whether be bridal and baby showers, or birthday celebrations. When Jeana isn't planning events, you can find her in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn where she lives with her husband. Their first baby is due in August.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? iHeartRadio’s biggest event of the year, the iHeartRadio Music Festival, takes place annually in September in Las Vegas, NV. My role in the Music Festival is to plan and execute all of the ancillary events that take place around the festival weekend. I have been working on it for months and will be doing so right up until my baby's anticipated arrival time at the end of August. After that, I will have a team that will take over in my absence to execute onsite. In addition to the pre-planning, it's my job to set that team up for success.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? Short term speaking, pregnancy has forced me to work ahead in a way I've never been able to. With an incredibly busy work schedule, it is often impossible to work ahead on projects as one would typically prefer. However with a due date in sight, that thought process changes, and while it's still difficult to work ahead you must find the time to make it happen in order to remain successful in your role. It adds pressure for sure. But it can be done. Long term speaking, pregnancy has forced me to look at the larger picture of juggling a career and a family. I haven’t had my baby yet, so this question might be better suited for after I do. However, the way I’m viewing it is that I’ll be sorting priorities differently. If a large event and the timelines surrounding it were considered critical and/or a priority before, those will take a back seat to the ability to be present at home before anything else. That won’t make me any less committed or successful to my job, there will just be a switch in priorities.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? A career helps shape you as a woman, but starting and building a family will define you as a woman. They can live in harmony together as long as you can keep your priorities in order. Or at least that’s the attitude I’m entering this next phase of life with. Ask me in 5 years :)
BIO Chelsea is the co-founder and creator of MY OM, an interactive yoga study app. After graduating from Lafayette College with a dual major in Art History and French, she pursued her creative passions working first in New York as a gallery representative at a prestigious Madison Avenue gallery, and then as a rights administrator representing copyrights for various artists and artist's estates. Her desire for a more direct relationship with her community and a vision of helping others find more contentment in their careers and personal lives, led her to leave the arts in 2012 to pursue her second passion, practicing and teaching yoga. In 2014, she found the opportunity to harness both her creativity as well as her desire to empower others through the philosophies of yoga. During her own advanced teacher training, she noticed a void in approachable and accessible learning tools for the 36 million yogis (and growing) in the U.S., many of whom are pursuing teacher certification. MY OM seeks to fill that void by providing access to knowledge in a place that is with most of us all of the time: our phones. Chelsea's understanding of visual influence, the psychology of color and design, afforded her the ability to approach the development of the app with a discerning eye, while also contributing to much of the app's content. She has overseen every step of the process from concept and development to launching and marketing of the app. Never one to back down from a challenge, she has embraced an ever-changing path that led her from the arts to yoga and now to the world of app development. She lives in Venice, California with her husband and baby daughter on the way.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? MY OM officially launched in the App Store in February 2016. We are thrilled with the positive reception that app has received thus far, and are looking forward to watching our community grow as we continue to market the app.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? Being pregnant with a baby girl, who will one day grow into a woman with her own dreams and desires, I feel a special responsibility to her and her future as a contributing member of society. I feel fortunate to see so many examples of women breaking boundaries and making gender gaps smaller and smaller every day. I hope that by the time she is an adult, she won't have to pick and choose between her dreams based on the perceptions placed on her by society. With my own desire to become a mother, there was also always an underlying necessity to find a career that gave me the flexibility needed to be present with my child. For me, that meant becoming my own boss, and leaving the arts where I saw many colleagues unable to balance happy careers with motherhood. Even still, I felt (and still do feel sometimes) a certain amount of pressure to reach a particular level of personal success before becoming a mom. I am grateful to have an incredibly supportive partner who reminds me to feel proud of myself on even my most insecure days, and understands that parenting with respective careers and professional pursuits is a team effort.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? When I finally decided I was "ready" to get pregnant it took quite some time, and money, and many fertility consultations in order to actually conceive. It was a roller coaster of emotions and with that came many moments of regret wondering if I had selfishly prioritized my own personal and professional goals ahead of motherhood, as well as worry that now it was too late. Thankfully, there are many ways to get pregnant and I will become a mother in 2016. I will say, as many have before me, you're never "ready." During the time I was trying to get pregnant two of my close girlfriends, both of whom are in the prime of their careers, got pregnant very unexpectedly and I've watched them each figure out the balance with grace and intelligence. So if you know becoming a mother is a part of your life plan but aren't quite ready, you might want to consider freezing your eggs to take the pressure off, or just take the plunge!
BIO Michelle is the Content Marketing Manager at Uphold, where she oversees global content marketing, community management and growth acquisition strategy. She specializes in corporate marketing and content communications programs; her expertise and passion are around steering organizations through change, establishing brand voice through advocacy campaigns and growth marketing. Michelle started her career in public relations in Northern Italy and then New York, eventually moving back home to California where she founded MWQPR, a boutique marketing agency specializing in social media and community development for small businesses and nonprofits. Michelle is passionate about balancing time between her day job and philanthropic efforts, spearheading public relations and social media campaigns such as the 2015 Race Across America Bike Race (RAAM) benefiting the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. As a first time mom, she is preparing for the birth of her little girl in November and looks forward to her most rewarding role yet, motherhood.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? Uphold is currently in an exciting time; we are working on improving our offering after successfully powering over $1BN in digital currency transactions globally. As part of a lean marketing team, communication and teamwork are paramount for success, especially leading up to maternity leave. We are constantly working to engage and incorporate our global audience (174 countries and counting), which means working with and managing teams globally to adapt our message and content for their audiences regionally. As we roll out a brand advocate campaign ideally slated for public launch late 2016, I anticipate the last few weeks leading into maternity leave to be very exciting!
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? Working for a fast-paced startup is incredibly exciting. I’ve discovered you have to be agile and willing to ‘pivot.’ Being pregnant with a girl, I find myself thinking about the importance of working at a company where my professional opinion as a woman is valued. I am the first female employee to have a baby (a few male counterparts in our Braga offices have become fathers over the past year). We did not have a strong maternity plan in place but it turns out, the team could not have been more supportive or excited for our upcoming baby and I am thrilled to be the ‘first’ mom. I’m working with our HR team to develop a maternity plan which will benefit all future moms at the company. I still struggle with the idea of ‘time off’ and being unplugged, but know if I need to check in between slack, email, text and skype I can easily connect with our globally dispersed team! I hope that being the first female at the company to have a baby will help set a precedent for ANY long term medical leave going forward. I know my personal success as a mom will only help improve and strengthen my professional success.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? You can do both. It may not be easy or the 'right time' but you can do both! Before deciding to start a family, I spoke with a number of professional women I look up to who successfully manage a career and have a family. They all said it was the best thing to happen to them both personally and professionally.
BIO Nicole Fein leads the Marketing and Communications team at Bergdorf Goodman where she oversees Marketing, Advertising, Events, PR and Social Media. She joined almost 5 years ago to look after BG’s vendor marketing programs which include Bergdorf’s seasonal magazines and mailers as well as brand and vendor integrated marketing campaigns across multiple categories. Prior to joining Bergdorf Goodman, Nicole ran Promotions and Advertising at Harrods and was Marketing Director for one of NewsCorp's newspapers in London, so has over 15 years’ experience in content and luxury marketing. Outside of work, Nicole is a wife and mother of 2 girls (aged 3 and 1) with a third on the way in January, so it’s luxe by day; noise, mess and Sofia the First by night.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? We usually work a season in advance, so we’re putting the finishing touches on Fall, which includes the opening of our new main floor, marking the end of a 2-year renovation project, as well as several media campaigns including Holiday and some very big name personal appearances in-store.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? I don’t think pregnancy has affected my professional goals. We were late to the party in starting a family so I was relatively experienced in my career. I really enjoyed my work and having only been at Bergdorf Goodman for over a year when I was pregnant with our first daughter, didn’t want to give that up. I never wanted anyone to think I was coasting through pregnancy and continually wanted to prove myself at work. My maternity cover document became a bible of anything and everything you could possibly want to know should you not be able to reach me by cell or email any time of day or night.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? It shouldn't have to be an either/or decision, but if you want both, of course there have to be some sacrifices and extra hours put in at inconvenient times. You can never plan for a child waking up in the middle of the night before a big presentation; or one tripping over her doctor's kit at the end of a long day requiring a 4 hour round trip to the emergency room for stitches; or just as you sit down to finish off some work at home, a tantrum begins. But, the good outweighs the bad - I love opening the front door at night and having my 2 girls excitedly run or crawl into my arms with huge grins on their faces. Which makes it all worth while. On the flip side, being a parent, especially to young children can give you a renewed (and calm) perspective when approaching situations at work, which you may have previously handled differently. I'm very lucky to have a nanny who has virtually become part of our family, and a supportive husband and team at work, who have come to expect emails at all hours from me. If all of this was easy, there wouldn't be the need to dispel the nap-n-nest perception.
BIO Christina Hall is a Manager of Demand Generation at Laserfiche, a software company in Long Beach. She oversees digital marketing efforts and works cross-functionally with the executive team and third party service vendors to drive demand for the company’s products and services. With a 10+ year track record of sales, sales management and marketing, her role at Laserfiche is to build a collaborative performance-driven digital marketing team. She is a self-taught techie and learned programming languages such as Ruby three years ago. Prior to Laserfiche she worked as a Hubspot partner, helping clients achieve sales results through marketing automation. She lives in Belmont Heights with her husband, 3-year old daughter…and is expecting her second daughter in just a few short months.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? One of our major initiatives right now is launching a new corporate website. The company has seen tremendous growth over recent years and in the past four months my team has been working diligently to create a digital footprint that positions the company as a leading technology solution provider. Digital marketing currently generates 30-40% of the company’s sales opportunities. Recruiting has been a primary function for me since I started earlier this year. I am currently working to round out our digital marketing team by recruiting functional experts that can work with me to execute digital marketing initiatives that improve our sales pipeline.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? My first pregnancy was very different than this one. I was traveling a lot then and I remember running through an airport in my first trimester not knowing if I was going to make it to my terminal without throwing up. Thankfully this pregnancy has been a little easier than the first mainly because I know what to expect. However, any woman pregnant with baby #2 knows that baby #1 never makes it easy. Pregnancy and raising my first born has changed my perspective about professional goals mainly because it forces you to understand that you can’t have it all, not at the same time. Before kids, work and life blended together, there was no separation. Now I need to take one hat off (the work hat) and put the other one on (the mom hat). I realized that being a mom and checking my email at the same time is not the type of parent I want to be. I believe that you can have the best of both worlds but being fully present in the ‘now’ is more important to me than ever before.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? You can do it! Seriously there is no shortage of opportunities… even if it’s part-time work, or making soap to sell at the Farmer’s Market. I personally think it’s important for children to see both parents working. Kathleen McGinn, a researcher at Harvard Business School says, “there are very few things… that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother.” Even if a 9 to 5, or more commonly 8 to 7 corporate cutout isn’t for you, there are many other ways women can maintain the hustle. The goal is to keep working and committing yourself to personal and professional growth. Our kids will thank us for it.
BIO Caroline Ballard is a Digital Director at Starcom, a global media agency where she oversees clients in CPG, retail and technology verticals. She currently leads teams that focus on a mix of programmatic, social and search channels. She is passionate about driving innovation as a solution for clients. For example, she led the first study for her CPG client to measure paid search clicks from their website to offline sales - the first of its kind in the food and beverage category. Prior to Starcom, she held various roles at iProspect in their Chicago and London offices with a focus on the search media channel for both local and global clients.
WHAT BIG PROJECT ARE YOU WORKING ON? Outside of my current responsibilities, I have been working on the product development side, creating a tool that allows teams to build creative based on real-time conversations happening online. This has been nearly two years in the making because I'm taking a complex amount of data and creating a simple way to find relevant conversations happening on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. for a given category. Not only is it driving a new way of thinking for clients, but personally, the experience has given me hands-on experience with new product development. I've also met so many smart and creative people within the Publicis network as a result.
HOW HAS PREGNANCY AFFECTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? Pregnancy has made me more cognizant of my time management. Until now, it was easy to stay late until every email was answered and all projects were ahead of schedule. I've already started training myself to approach my workload differently. Having supportive management and coworkers who experienced this before has prepared me with the advice I was seeking. It allowed me to take their points of view and form a plan that works best for me. Secondly, I've always been a planner and will be on leave during the busiest quarter for many clients. I began months in advance creating plans and aligning on long-term strategy with each of my teams. While I'm out, my goal is to have instilled confidence in my teams to continue the momentum we've created together without feeling like I've left them without the tools to succeed.
ADVICE FOR OTHER CAREER-MINDED WOMEN WHO LOVE "THE HUSTLE" & WHO ARE ALSO THINKING ABOUT STARTING A FAMILY? My advice is to approach being a new mom knowing it's not realistic to maintain the level of time and effort you may have put into your career to date. When I consider work/life balance, it doesn't mean an equal split all the time. If you’re like me where work has historically always come first, think about how you will shift into a phase of your life where family will come first outside of working hours. This balance will fluctuate as time goes on. I would also suggest having a network of parents who have been through what you’re experiencing. Some will share sacrifices they’ve made professionally, others personally, and many were able to find a work/life balance that they’re generally happy with. I’ve found it extremely useful to take their experiences and form my own opinion for what I anticipate will work best for me.