Updated: Apr 10, 2020
This article is part of our 40 Over 40 series.
This is our time! We’re stronger when we work together to lift other women up. Evolve is creating the list we've been waiting for -- the first-ever 40 Over 40 list! We're curating profiles of women who have or are in the process of reinventing their careers in their 40s, 50, 60s and beyond. We're thrilled to share these stories of reinvention - women returning to work, pivoting careers or launching new ventures!
What prompted your career reinvention? *
My co-founder (and former colleague), Georgene Huang, founded Fairygodboss after she was suddenly fired from her executive role during a management shake-up and found herself unexpectedly looking for a job while two months pregnant. While interviewing, she wanted to ask certain questions — like, is work-life balance enabled at this company? Are women paid and promoted fairly? What’s the maternity leave policy? — but feared being stigmatized. She wanted to hear directly from other women about their experiences and how they overcame similar challenges.
I had faced similar challenges at work as a senior level executive and having two small children. My former employer, The Wall Street Journal, graciously accommodated me after my second child by allowing me to go down to a 3-day a week schedule. I was able to keep my (very) senior title and all my scope of responsibilities, and was supported by strong deputies who were able to keep the trains moving even when I was not in the office on Thursdays and Fridays. I wanted this arrangement to work so much because it would have been an opportunity to show the whole world that mothers of young children can continue to be an important asset in the workplace without having to sacrifice time and commitment to their families.
I’m sad to say though, I was not able to make it work after all. I felt like I wasn’t giving my all at home OR at work and I wasn’t living up to my own high standards. AND, I felt harshly judged by those around me, so when Georgene approached me about Fairygodboss, it was an easy decision to go on the adventure of entrepreneurship with her!
What's the best thing about midlife career change? *
With my career change, I'm now a founder of a company, which means there are no limits. When I had a corporate job, people used to always tell me to “stay in my lane” (which I hated!). But now, I get to take up the WHOLE ROAD.
What's the biggest challenge? *
Working at a startup, no two days are the same and every day brings a new challenge - which is difficult, but also the reason I love what I do! From managing my team, to hopping on the phone with clients, pitching prospects, to every detail and meeting in between, my days are constantly changing and I’m always learning something new.
What's your personal mantra or mission? Why? *
Seek out rejection. Seek out failure. The best way to grow is to put yourself out there. Sure you might fail, but you might discover something new and create something really amazing.
Your best career advice for other women at midlife is... *
Stop being so hard on yourself. We judge ourselves so harshly. Ultimately, I think I scared myself out of trying new things or taking risks that would have been rewarding because I was so limited by my own judgement and fear of failure.