When I queried Karen on how she managed to be a Cruiser in the tech industry, a place notorious for work environments that are unfriendly to women, she said, “It’s quite simple. I had a boss who understood the value proposition of a committed employee and I had the courage to ask for what I wanted. It was a win for everyone.”
When Macromedia was purchased by Adobe, Karen was offered the opportunity to work in a bigger, even more mission-critical job. The key requirement was that Karen had to be “all in,” no more reduced schedule. This was her “lean in” moment and Karen was ready.
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“I had spent the early years of my children’s lives placing them front and center. Now, it was time to recommit to my career,” she explained during our interview.
Karen took the big job and proved herself yet again. She was promoted and continued to gain more responsibility and experience. Karen ended up staying at Adobe for seven years. She credits her career success to her original manager, who was willing to work with her when she first got pregnant. If he hadn’t, Karen told me she likely would have ended up like the majority of other women in tech who leave their jobs when they have children.
“I’m grateful I had the opportunity to pull back on my career when I did. It allowed me to stay in the game and also meant that when the company truly needed me, I had the energy and loyalty to be there for them,” Karen said.
Karen’s story spotlights how smart companies can keep talented women engaged through the early years of child rearing by offering flexible schedules and partnering with the women themselves to find a mutually beneficial career path. For most Cruisers, I learned it was an enlightened boss, not progressive company policies, that afforded them these opportunities. As a result, many Cruisers found they had to leave and create a new solution when corporate leadership changed and the commitment to flexibility waned.
Lawyer Lauren Gage Segal was on the partner track at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a San Francisco-based law firm Then, her primary client, Oracle, approached Lauren, asking her to join the company as an in-house counsel.
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