WHO SHE IS
Karen Lieu, Recruiting Programs Manager at Pinterest

WHERE SHE IS
San Francisco Bay Area

WORK SCHEDULE
M, T, Th, F ~9 – 6 p.m. in the office; Wed. — work remotely from home

KIDS
Madison (9), Ethan (8) & Jackson (4) 

SANITY VICE
Red wine, working out (daily bootcamp at 5 a.m. and weekly tap dancing class) and frequent date nights with my husband

FAVORITE WEEKNIGHT DINNER
Do DoorDash and Munchery count? 😀 Sadly, this is one thing I rarely do given the time that I get home in the evening. However, when I cook, my go-to are slow cooker recipes because I can turn it on in the morning and then have it ready when I get home. Minimal prep and quick to complete are essential with a long commute and hungry kids!

FAVORITE MAGAZINES
I don’t really have a favorite magazine but I love to read random blogs/articles about surviving motherhood/parenting and juggling a career in high tech

FAVORITE TV SHOW
I’ve mostly given up watching TV because there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything. However, the one show I can’t let go of is Survivor. I’ve been a huge fan since season one mostly because I love watching the social dynamics and understanding what makes people tick.

GO-TO TECH
Amazon Prime, Google Shopping Express, my Fitbit (to keep me moving!)

BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP
Layout kids clothes on Sunday so they are self-sufficient in the hectic morning routines. Prep lunches the night before so you can just grab and go.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN WHEN YOU AREN’T WORKING?
Board games, camping, traveling whenever possible, and just hanging out and hearing about their day.

Pinterest's Karen Lieu on Maybrooks -- working mom in tech

1. Tell us about your working mom journey. What are you doing now, and how did you get here?

I’ve been in the Human Resources industry for almost 15 years. I worked at several technology companies before joining Pinterest 3+ years ago. After my third child was born I started HR consulting to have more flexibility with my schedule.

I originally joined Pinterest as a consultant to work a couple of days per week for 2-3 months but fell in love with the company and thankfully they wanted to hire me on full time! Currently I’m managing Recruiting Programs at Pinterest. I moved into this role about a year and a half ago after working as an HR Business Partner earlier in my career here.

2. You have the very cool job of helping new hires have a smooth transition into Pinterest. As a working parent, how does this inform how you approach this role?

I get to see and welcome all new hires at the very beginning of their careers at Pinterest. Not only is this exciting and fun but it’s also critical that I teach them who we are as a company, what we value and what defines our culture. 

Our employees are passionate about our mission to help pinners discover, save and do the things they love and we’re all working really hard towards that goal. We’re encouraged to collaborate and challenge one another, think creatively, take risks and have some fun along the way!

Being a working mom, I know how demanding life outside of work can be (even if you don’t have kids)! With my own experience in mind and having a ton of historical context at the company, I feel well equipped to help people create their own sense of work/life balance at Pinterest, whatever their situation may be.

3. You have a big job but have done a tremendous job of protecting your time with your children. How does this look and what boundaries do you set?

When I made the decision to join Pinterest full time (instead of being a consultant), I knew that I needed to create certain boundaries that allowed me to be successful but also not lose precious time with my family. One of the things I really love at Pinterest is that we have a “no meeting Wednesday” guideline/rule. Everyone at the company is encouraged to be heads down on Wednesdays and avoid scheduling meetings whenever possible.

Due to my lengthy commute (from San Jose), I choose to work from home on most Wednesdays. This allows me to have uninterrupted head-down time while the kids are at school, and also provides flexibility to schedule doctor’s appointments, attend soccer practice, or whatever else needs to happen on various Wednesday afternoons. I am really protective of these WFH days because even though it’s only a few hours after school that my kids get to spend with me, they count on it and look forward to it every week. And to be honest, I do too!  

4. The mother’s group at Pinterest sounds really active. What are some of the things you all do to support each other?

The moms group at Pinterest is by far one of my favorite aspects of our culture. Every month we have a mom’s meeting and we cover a variety of topics — from tips to surviving the holidays, to what questions we should be asking potential caregivers, to how we talk to our managers about setting stretch professional goals and knowing when to ask for help.

The other great thing we do is every month we feature one of our moms here. Someone usually volunteers to share their story and what’s working and what’s not. Not only have I learned a great deal from these women but I also have a special place in my heart for these amazing women who are trying to do the same thing as me – keep their careers and raise a loving family.

5. What is your best advice to other professional women?  

I think my biggest advice would be to be really intentional with your time and be present wherever you are. In the early days at Pinterest, I was so eager to make a good impression and succeed that I often made decisions at the expense of my own family or health (i.e. working through lunch — and sometimes dinner, coming in early / staying really late, missing out on family and social events because I was working too much, etc).  There came a time that I just couldn’t do that anymore.

I got some advice from a friend about mindfulness and time management that I think changed my life. I sat down and blew up my whole calendar (work and personal). I made a list of the things that I absolutely had to do (meetings, doctor appointments, etc.). I put those on the calendar first then blocked off several hours a day to just crank on work. At work this means every time I get pulled into a meeting or random project, I ask myself if it’s the most impactful thing I can be working on and if I can do it without compromising my other non-negotiable priorities. At home this means saying no more often and leaning on my husband to take on projects and responsibilities around the house.  

The other really key advice I would give is to stop feeling guilty (this one is easier said than done). 🙂  When I was at the office, I used to always feel guilty that I wasn’t at home with my kids and vice versa. Now I try to remind myself that both places need me, both places I love being, and I can’t be in two places at once. I’ll do the best I can everyday to keep the balance between work and home life but the scales often tip in one direction or the other and that just means I need to re-adjust in the days ahead.

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