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02/24/16

Why I’m Proud to be Honored by AWNY as a Working Mother of the Year

Posted by Mollie Spilman

Looking back at the last 25 years of my career, there is a lot I am proud of. I’ve worked at some amazing companies--from startups to large, established companies--all of which have given me invaluable experiences and personal connections. Progressing on my professional journey was no easy road, but through hard work, dedication and teamwork I can look back and note many winning moments that I’m proud of. Worth equal, if not more, celebration is being the best wife and devoted mother I think I could be.

We’ve seen much talk in the media about women in tech, and in the workplace, overall. Some women still argue that they can’t have it all, while others say that it’s absolutely possible. Supporting and encouraging women at any level in their professions to build and continue their careers once they become mothers is a topic close to my heart. That’s why I’m incredibly honored to be named an Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) Working Mother of the Year, along with 19 other working mothers and extraordinary women in the field.

Make no mistake, it’s difficult to maintain a career and raise children–especially two teenage boys. But, what I always say is that the key is finding a balance. Not a daily balance, but a lifelong balance, whereby as a working mother you’re at work when needed and at home when needed, too. In those moments that women question whether it’s worth the juggling act, I’d ask them to revel in the feeling of their biggest career success and then reflect on how their jobs have made them better mothers and vice-versa.

I know that both aspects of my life have impacted the other for the better. For one, being a mother has made me a more empathic and patient manager. On the other hand, my job has made me more confident. Even though traveling non-stop and leaving little ones behind can be rough on working parents, my work travel has taken me all over the world. As such, it has enriched my appreciation of other cultures, which I share with my sons and broader family members. I also think that I’ve taught them the importance of working hard–a value that I’ll be proud to see reflected in them when they’re older. Further, raising boys that can see how hard a woman works will hopefully lead them to choose strong, successful women as life partners.

But, even though I’m sure that my roles as an executive and mother benefit each other, I’m aware that the myths around having it all have discouraged younger women from even trying to have both a career and family. I wrote directly to Millennial women last year, letting Quartz readers know that despite what’s been said, women can have both a satisfying career and family life. We– businesses, men, and especially other women–need women to stay in the workforce. When we include women equally at work and in executive positions, we’re tapping into our entire talent pool, and a demographic that offers different perspectives from men–both of which will drive innovation and productivity.

In fact, a recent study found that having women in top management positions is directly correlated with increased profitability. If businesses are still considering how extensive their efforts around creating and growing women leaders should be, they don’t have to look any further than the bottom line. But sadly, another survey found that 37 percent of millennial women say they plan to interrupt their careers to some degree to care for their children (and 4% already have). There couldn’t be a more important time to underscore how valuable women are in the workplace, and the need to support them as wives and working mothers.

If you’re a working mother, or a woman with plans to be a mother one day, my advice is to be confident in your abilities at work, and at home. Stop feeling guilty about not giving 100 percent of your time to either pursuit, and look to happy working mothers as inspirational role models (one of mine is Sheryl Sandberg). Find a company, manager and team that understands the importance of family and children. And most importantly, support and mentor each other as women! Having and being a female mentor is one of the most important things women can do for their career and journey towards personal fulfillment. You can read more of my advice for working mothers in Quartz and in the Huffington Post.

Last but not least, a big thank you to AWNY for highlighting such an important issue!

Categories: Inside Criteo