Mandy Long epitomizes a successful woman climbing the corporate ladder in an award-winning health IT company. Her greatest accomplishment though? Her three children. Mandy is passionate about moms returning to the working world and knows that it’s not easy to juggle motherhood and a career and be successful in both. Mandy shared her thoughts and insights on what it means to be a mom with a booming career. Whether you are a parent, might be one in the future or want to read a story of success, there’s something to learn from Mandy’s experience.
Being a mother to three children under the age of three — including newborn twins — has changed my life in the best way possible. I compiled a few lessons learned and want to support others who may have some of the same challenges and experiences. Here are few tips to find the right balance of being a new mom and a motivated professional.
1. Forgive Yourself. Mommy-guilt (or just parent-guilt in general) is a real thing. Women and men both struggle with heading back to work post-baby, regardless of whether it is your first or third child, and a dual-working household can add even more pressure. You have to be willing to forgive yourself; you’re not perfect, no one is. Don’t set the bar for yourself based on Pinterest and the parenting forums. Some of the best advice that I was given before my first child was to live my life in phases, both professionally and personally. Based on where you are in your personal life and the needs of your family you need to make the decisions that enable you to make that work first. The career path that you follow as a result of that might not look like what you originally envisioned, but your family and your children need to be your #1 priority. As long as you are doing that and you are passionate about the value that you are creating in your career, the next phase will come and you’ll find an entirely different set of choices in front of you.
2. Have an Open Conversation with Your Employer. It may be uncomfortable at first, but in the end it will work to everyone’s benefit. Have the conversations well before you go on maternity leave with your manager and human resources department. Set expectations and put a plan in place to prepare the organization for your time away so that you can focus on being a parent and the team can be successful. Preparing for maternity or paternity leave starts well before the day your baby arrives – one of the best things you can do for yourself and your team is to ensure that everyone is clear on the plan and that you create an environment where, when you return, the team didn’t miss a beat. This is especially necessary when you manage people. You also need to learn and understand what your rights in the workplace are as a parent. I am very fortunate that Modernizing Medicine has strong values around work-life balance and family being a priority. This includes maternity and paternity leave as well as an extremely supportive environment (and private spaces in our offices) for new mommies who are breastfeeding.
3. Ask for Support. Find your tribe. I didn’t realize how important this was until my first child was a couple months old and I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. Anyone can be in your tribe – friends, family, co-workers, online communities, or local parent groups – but they need to be people who build you up and support your learning and experiences as a new parent. Be picky about who gets to sit on your Board of Directors – you are the expert on your child and your tribe’s role is to be there to catch you when you stumble and reinforce how strong you are as a parent. There is so much truth to the saying that “it takes a village.” I am deeply involved in a lot of groups that support new moms, and I look for support and offer support in those places almost daily.
I have also coached women at Modernizing Medicine on how to establish themselves as a mom at home and in the workplace. I’m looking forward to our new internal group called Modernizing Parenthood, which will foster conversations among parents (and those who plan to be one day) on a variety of topics. Topics will include things like understanding insurance plans, how to breastfeed while working, tips and tricks discussions, maintaining a healthy balance, how to save time and money with errands and more. This group reinforces Modernizing Medicine’s commitment to supporting working parents with the challenges that they can often face.
4. Prioritize What’s Most Important (for You). In the first year as a parent, I like to say it’s all about survival. The key to success is honing in on what’s most important to you (and – see above – forgiving yourself!). What’s most important will be different for everyone. No book will give you the exact answers. My personal top two were that I wanted to be home for dinner every day and that I wanted to breastfeed. I made the conscious choice to come off the road, and that meant leaving my previous employer and joining Modernizing Medicine. My role changed significantly, but for the phase of life that I was in, that decision made the most sense for my family and our priorities.
5. Dispel the Myths. Oftentimes I hear that women think they can’t climb the corporate ladder if they are pregnant or have young children. Sometimes this causes them to feel like they need to “wait for a good time in their career” to have a family. I am an example of this not being true. I was promoted when I was nursing my first child and then promoted again while pregnant with twins. And on top of it all, I am a millennial – I turned 30 this past April. It is all about having structure and setting goals – both in the workplace and at home. Motherhood shouldn’t impact your ability to do your work and create significant value for your organization, albeit it may be in a different manner than before (working from home, flexible hours to pick up kids, etc.). You need to learn what works for you. It’s different for everyone and there’s not one right or wrong way.
The AuthorMandy Long
Vice President of Product Management at Modernizing Medicine
Mandy Long is the Vice President of Product Management at Modernizing Medicine. She is responsible for the product strategy and direction of Modernizing Medicine’s software portfolio. She drives the product road map and the expansion of Modernizing Medicine’s products and services offerings to its rapidly evolving user base.
Mandy has spent her career in healthcare technology. Prior to joining Modernizing Medicine in 2014, she was the Vice President of Product Management for Experian Health (previously Passport Health Communications, Inc.), serving 3,060 hospitals and 10,000 other healthcare organizations representing 350,000 providers nationwide in the patient access and revenue cycle solutions space. Prior to Passport, Mandy held a number of senior leadership positions at Epic, including Application Success Owner, Install Process Owner, and Senior Project Manager. Mandy holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Connecticut College.