SUCCESS STORY: Left position as Principal at consulting firm to take a big risk and start a company
WORK SCHEDULE: Just finishing maternity leave; plan to work 3 days a week in office and from home the rest of the time
KIDS: 3-month-old twins George & Angelina
SANITY VICE: Chocolate : )
How she got here…
I graduated from Harvard in 2000 at the height of the first Internet boom and was very intrigued to move to the Bay Area. I joined Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, in San Francisco, and before I knew it had stayed there for over 10 years with a break for business school at Stanford. While I never planned to be a career consultant, I loved the people and teams at Bain and the time flew by.
My original plan was to stay there while having kids because they have great flexible working solutions for moms, but then the Hipiti opportunity came along and I knew that the timing was right to take a risk in my career. Hipiti (hipiti.com) is a service to aggregate the overload of retail emails in your inbox and show you only the best, most relevant offers and SaleTally (saletally.com – coming soon) is our enterprise retail data product that we’re launching soon.
My co-founder Rama Katkar, a good friend from business school, had the idea for Hipiti and I jumped at the chance to join her – I had been focused on retail and ecommerce at Bain, so the industry fit was perfect and I’d wanted to do something entrepreneurial since business school. I also really identified with the pain point from a consumer perspective (retail email overload) and am addicted to online shopping, so it fit my personal interests as well.
KFK: I’m hanging in there! My twins are just over three months now and I’m not officially back from maternity leave yet, but beginning to re-engage more every day. The only way this has been possible at all is because I have an amazing co-founder who managed everything while I’ve been out. We also made a couple key hires just as I was leaving, a VP of Marketing and a data engineering manager. On the baby front, they are doing great and I’m loving being a mom, but no matter how many people told me that twins are exponentially more difficult, I was not prepared for it! But every week seems to get a little easier and I’ve been lucky to have good support at home.
MB: What has been the best tool for you when it comes to navigating babies and work?
KFK: I’m not back to work just yet, but there are a few things that have saved me time already. First, I’m doing a lot of pumping and then bottle feeding which both require constant cleaning. The environmentalist in me would prefer to only buy and use the amount of bottles and pumping equipment that we need, but after spending hours washing, I just bought a ton of each and throw in the dishwasher at night. I also use the pumping time to catch up on email and messages. We’re in process of attempting to put the twins on the same schedule – when it works out, our day is so much more productive!
MB: What kind of flexibility do you build into your day or week for yourself?
KFK: I’m lucky to have some amount of flexibility working at a small startup – things just need to get done, but if it’s at 2 a.m. when I’m awake after feeding the babies, that’s fine! I’ve set up a home office so that I will be able to work from home some days and isolate myself from the babies. I’m excited that I got my husband’s old polycom so calls will be more comfortable!
KFK: I think it’s great that the media has really re-invigorated this debate in the past few months. We’d welcome more media discussion about how startups and freelancers in particular are managing maternity and paternity leave. As a very small company, Rama and I had to discuss what kind of culture we wanted very early on to figure out the best way to accommodate our families and professional goals. We found that lots of planning and communication was the best way for us to facilitate maternity leave in such a small company. Unlike larger companies that have people and resources to help pick up the slack when someone is on maternity, we needed to figure out how to best manage with just a few people. We hope that by living through this experience early on, we’ve created good building blocks for our company culture as we scale.
MB: What advice do you live by as a working mom?
KFK: I’m lucky to have working moms in the family who have been wonderful role models and sources of advice. My mom, mother-in-law, sister and sister-in-law have all shared tips to help me make the transition back. Here are a few that I’m planning to live by:
1. You can only be your best mom when you’re happy with your own personal and professional decisions – you can’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself, too!
2. When working, give 100 percent to work and when with your kids, give 100 percent to your kids. Don’t try to do both at the same time or everyone feels cheated and ineffective.
3. Always remember that it is quality of time and NOT quantity that you spend with your kids. When you are with them, live that time up to its fullest!