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Meet the mamas of Asana

May 8th, 2020
7 min read
Meet the mamas of Asana

Being a working parent is no easy task. At Asana we’re constantly working to foster an inclusive environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work, including parents. We want them to feel supported in all facets of their lives, not just their careers. To celebrate these amazing women, we reached out to a handful of Asana Mamas to share their stories with us.

These women represent different teams and offices, and we’re grateful for the valuable perspective they bring. Get to know them and their career journeys, plus real talk on how they are balancing mom life and work life in today’s new world of work.  

Erin Cheng, Head of Public Relations and Analyst Relations, San Francisco

Erin Cheng

“From my very first interview at Asana, I knew it was a special place to continue growing my career. In my role I get to help unlock stories behind Asana’s business momentum, category leadership, talented teams, and thriving customers

I was a relatively new mom when I started at Asana—my son Carter was only 6 months old! From day one, I felt an incredible sense of support and belonging as an Asana parent.

Whether it’s a complete understanding of flexible schedules or needing to drop everything to pick up from daycare, I feel like my job as a mom is honored and respected.

I’ve always been a planner, and being a working parent has taught me that things will never go 100% according to plan. Success looks different every day and half the battle for me has been accepting and celebrating that fact. I love being a mom and I love my job. While it hardly ever feels like I’ve mastered both my role as a mom and an Asana, the ability to show my son that I’m pursuing my passions in all aspects of my life ultimately makes me feel successful. 

I think the key to balancing both roles is communication. Whether it’s communicating with your partner, your manager, your team or yourself, being open and honest about your needs is crucial. I make sure to block off time on my calendar or snooze notifications to indicate when I’m spending time with my family. I also stay in constant communication with my husband if and when I need to focus on a work deadline. For me, bedtime with my son is my favorite time of day and I do my best to be present and really savor the moments of beautiful chaos.”

Nico Matson, Product Design Manager, New York

“Designing software for people was something that I grew into, which led me to Asana. I’ve been at Asana for 3 years and I currently have a player and coach role. I work as lead designer, while also managing and supporting an amazing designer. 

The leaders at Asana have been very empathetic and vulnerable about being a parent. We have both young families and mature families that have helped guide new families.

There’s so much emotional support all around. It makes me feel at ease.

Asana’s values are aligned with mindfulness, which is important to me. 

To me success as a parent is finding the right work-life balance. Being a working parent is demanding, but if you love your work you figure out how to balance both. I’ve learned as a new parent that “redirecting” is more helpful than just saying “no” or “yes.” I’ve found there are ways to delegate both your career and your family life to make the most out of both. Whatever you’re doing with your kids, is probably what you need to do in order to survive. So don’t ever feel guilty about anything you do.”

Eleanor Lacey, General Counsel, San Francisco 

Eleanor Lacey

“When I interviewed at Asana, I knew right away this was where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in a place that really cared about its mission, culture, and people, had a really smart and dedicated team, and had a great product. Asana had it all and I am so glad I joined when I did. I’ve been leading the Legal team for almost a year now and I can say for certain this is the group I want to be with. 

From the beginning, I noticed that my parent self did not have to be separate from my work self.

I have two teenage daughters and being connected and present is really important, especially in the high school years. I never feel guilty about being clear with colleagues about what I’m doing or where I am on a given day. When I go to a soccer game or I just need to be home for dinner, I can be open about it. My family knows they can count on me to be there if they need me. 

Balancing family life and work life is always challenging and always changing. I let my family know when I am entering an intense time at work, and when that time will end. That way I’ve set expectations and when that period is over, I can be fully present. They would rather have me go to an office and work than be half-present at home. So making those work and home lines clear helps a lot.

I’d tell other working parents to be kind to themselves. I spent so many years expecting the impossible from myself and always feeling like I was not doing enough. As my children have grown older, they’ve realized how I value my career and are proud of me for it. This feels really rewarding.” 

Steph Hess, Head of Corporate Marketing, San Francisco 

Steph Hess

“I am so grateful that I found the Asana family and our mission. As the leader of Asana’s Corporate Marketing team, our work centers around celebrating the power of teamwork and telling the stories of the remarkable people and teams who do incredible work together—no matter where they are in the world.

One of the core principles at Asana is real talk, and we find that particularly useful for our moms and broader caregivers groups. Someone is always there to send encouragement, share advice, empathize about the challenges, and celebrate the joys with videos or photos of their kids—especially now as we all work from home. I have never felt more supported in my career as a working parent than at Asana. I mark my calendar when we are schooling from home, take advantage of our caregiving programs, and time off with family is never questioned. That all allows me to be more grounded as a leader and a mom.

It’s never an either or, it’s just what I bring to Asana as part of my full experience.

Raising strong daughters who are thoughtful and compassionate about the world around them, and who support each other as sisters, is what success looks like to me as a parent. For me it’s always been more of a blend vs. balance as a parent. As my girls get older and are more independent, it’s definitely getting easier to blend my work and family worlds. Being mindful of where I am devoting my energy, keeping my family time sacred, and prioritizing my self care are all non-negotiables. 

As a working parent no one can set your boundaries but yourself. It’s hard to navigate that as a new mom, and I’ve had to remind myself of that as we’ve hit new phases in our parenting journey. I’ve found that being as upfront as possible about your schedule and where you are willing to push into those boundaries helps take the pressure off when you are contracting around them with your teams.” 

Beth Toland, Head of Experience Research, San Francisco

Beth Toland

“I’ve been at Asana for six and a half years, so I’ve been lucky to go through many phases with the company. My team sits in the Product organization, and we study the dynamics of modern work, the role technology plays, and how Asana can help people thrive in that environment. We help our employees gain a deeper understanding of our customers so we can build great things for them to do great work.

As a parent at Asana, support is twofold: the community of parents and Asana as a company. There’s a wonderful parent community here (including long-time parents, new parents, and friends of parents) who offer support, council, resources, and a shoulder. The thing that makes me feel most supported is the “bring your whole self to work” principle. It’s what makes the parent community so valuable and allows me to truly be a parent and a human. It means my schedule can get weird, I can say that I’m being affected by my family, I could use support or space, and that I feel supported as who I am.

I feel that doing good work makes me a better parent. Growing and learning in my career allows me to bring new perspectives back to my family and generally feel fulfilled. Of course those new perspectives and fulfilment come to people in all different ways; mine just happens to come in the form of an office job in tech. 

It can be easy to tell ourselves stories about what might happen if we need to operate differently or make a request, but you can’t know unless you try. You’ve got this, even if you don’t feel like you do.

I’d encourage other working parents to do what’s right for you and your family and ask for help. You’ve got this.”

Sonja Gittens-Ottley, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, San Francisco

“I’ve had the honor of leading our diversity and inclusion efforts at Asana for the past four years, and being a parent is one of the areas that brings to light Asana’s emphasis on bringing your whole self to work, every day. It allows you to be vulnerable, admit when you have a lot going on (without having to feel guilty for it), take time away from work to focus on family, and never have to jeopardize one or the other. As parents at Asana, we have open communication channels and a community to be our authentic selves as caregivers. I always feel heard and supported when raising any topic with this group, whether it relates to family life or work life. 

Balance is key. I never feel guilty about staying late at the office for an event or travel. I don’t feel like I’m taking time away from family, because I know that my child is nurtured and supported at home. When I need to spend time with family, I have the flexibility and balance to do so. That way I can always be present and I don’t have to give anything up at work or at home. I set blocks on my calendar for the end of the day, which are visible to my teammates, so they know that I’m focusing on family time and being present in those moments.

It’s important to give it my all in my work life and family life, and creating this balance allows me to do so. 

I’d tell other working parents to go easy on themselves. You are doing two jobs and they are both 100% demanding. It’s really easy to see the things that you didn’t do and to penalize yourself for that. Instead of focusing on what you didn’t do, give yourself time to celebrate all the incredible things that you have done.” 

Let’s hear it for the mamas

We’re proud to support so many hardworking mamas here at Asana. Thank you for the passion, mindfulness, connection, and real talk you bring to your families and work every day. 

If you’re a parent looking to join a team that encourages you to bring your full self to work, come join us and check out our open roles

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