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The Working Mother Experience is a 250 page glossy coffee table book that contains nearly 100 essays written by EMC women (and one man) from around the world. The essayists share their candid perspectives on being working mothers in our fast-paced business environment.

Working Mother Experience Book (in PDF)



I have been working for the same corporation for many years.  Actually, that is not a true statement.  The company name is the same, but the corporation has changed more than stayed the same in my tenure here.  Due to the size of the campus, I was lucky enough to start a brand new career this week in the same building as my previous career that ended last week. Receiving a job offer letter just days before Christmas definitely has its affect on the holidays.  Although I have received outstanding support from former management as well as new, transitions are complicated.   Systems are put in place to make career transitions all go as smoothly as possible.  Yet, it never really is SMOOTH…  Great care needs to be taken to prevent tasks from falling through the cracks.  You worry about what you know is important from your old job that is out of your control.  Meanwhile, you don’t know what is important yet in your new job, so you pay attention to everything and set yourself up for overwhelm.  Your finely tuned skill for prioritizing on the fly has all new inputs to decipher. Then there is the details and administrivia.   I started packing up my office stuff to schlep it to a new location, in the same building.  Seeing less of the team I worked with daily for the past 4 years while making alliances with the new team.  Figuring out who owns what is a treat.  I spend time teaching people how to do my old job.  Other people spend time teaching me how to do my new job.  My supportive husband and son are dealing with Mommy’s fragmented attention span at home and I feel like Sybil in conversations saying things to the effect of “my job, I mean my old job”, “my boss, er my former boss” etc. Even though so much has changed and things we have established routines are not smooth, there exists an aliveness associated with change.  It is as if I can FEEL the new pathways in my brain forming.  It is invigorating.  It is exhausting.  I have slept really well the last few nights because I have left nothing on the table.  None of my other responsibilities (being a wife and mother) take a vacation because I started something new.  Christmas and New Years obligations and celebrations happened on schedule whether I was ready or not. Back in November, I had vowed to myself that I was going to make 2010 a focus on simplicity.  I was going to trust myself more, I was going to simplify some of the processes of my life, I was going to systematically organize areas of my house that cause me grief, give away stuff I no longer use and reclaim open space.   It wasn’t quite a Resolution, but more of an intended transformation.   My approach to life is often one of scarcity.  I hold-on to what I have.  I like to consider it a form of loyalty.  My Mother calls this “the devil you know”.  Staying with the devil you know is a safe, but not necessarily fulfilling lifestyle. With the current economic crisis some were concerned that it was a mistake in timing for me to change jobs.  I love that I have people that care for me so much, but I knew it was time for a change.  My brain needed new challenges. Recently I tweeted saying that I was in a place of contentment.  In that contentment, I am actually embracing all of the mistakes I have made in my life, because they got me to HERE.  I like where I am and I could not have gotten to the positive “here” without having gone though the dark stuff.   What a great lesson it would be for me if I could embrace the next time I screw up as simply the means by which a new pathway opens up for me.   I doubt I will have that Zen-like clarity in the moment.  Being a perfectionist, screwing up comes with a lot of drama.  I like to think that I eventually see the silver lining, though. Transitions are not smooth, but as I sit here writing this post I feel very much alive.  Challenges are good for the soul.

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Meet EMC Working Mother -- Toby Zeldin Yaakov

Senior Technical Writer, RSA, The Security Division of EMC, Israel Mother of two: two youths Excerpt from Toby’s essay (p. 104): Does any woman actually dream of being a working mother? It’s a 24/7 smorgasbord of personal and work challenges all rolled into one. And for me, the icing on the cake is that I’m a working mother in the Middle East. I could never have imagined the swirled topping of ups, downs, and inside-outs of this working-mother’s life I lead: I’m a city girl from Toronto living in a far-away, out-of-the-way Yemen-Israeli community named Moshav Tnuvot, a former screenwriter now writing API documentation, employed by a U.S. corporation and working in the Israeli high-tech industry, and the English-speaking mother of two girls who speak Hebrew. Why she wanted to contribute her story to the book: I think it's important to participate in projects in which employees are involved in activities outside of their usual work routines. A project such as this is especially interesting in a large, global company like EMC because you are exposed to the perspectives of people from around the world. I have a particular interest in projects about working mothers—because I am one!

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Simmons School of Management-Special Event

This past summer the Simmons School of Management in Boston Massachusetts held a special event discussing Women and Engagement at EMC. On the panel were Natalie Corridan-Gregg, Polly Pearson, and Marisol Arroyave. Three women who are passionate about EMC, their careers, and being working mothers. All three are essayists in the Working Mother Experience book which was one of the topics for discussion that night. There have been several panel discussions since the book launch in April, 2009, but this one was distinctly unique. This blog post has been hard to write just because so many great conversations happened. It is rare to find an entire room of accomplished female leaders fully present from every generation. It was tempting to just create a blog post that says “You just HAD to be there.” The event was audio taped and when editing is complete and with Simmons SOM permission it will be posted here for you to enjoy. The facilitator was outstanding. Great questions, accurate paraphrasing, and simply got the room engaged quickly. The audience was so inspiring. The quality of the questions, the enthusiastic discussions, the passion these women showed gave me hope for the future of the country. These women are here to shake things up! The women in that audience clearly think beyond themselves.  They are ready willing and able to tackle the world's issues while simultaneously setting themselves up for success. There is definitely an affinity between EMC and the Simmons School of Management.  Their annual Simmons Leadership Conference is a tremendous source of inspiration.   In their own words : "For 31 years the Simmons Leadership Conference has set the standard for women's professional events, presenting an extraordinary blend of thought leadership, motivation, and above all, networking."  The next one is Friday, April 30, 2010.  Mark your calendars. Recently a Simmons School of Management alumni received an Executive Education Newsletter from the school and forwarded it to this blog.  The Working Mother Experience blog along with other resources online were among the recommended reading list.  What an honor!  You can check it out here.

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The Choice Myth

Catching up on my reading (and blogging) I ran across an article that talks about a woman's choice to work. The opinion blog by Judith Warner titled "Domestic Disturbances" dispels the 'choice myth'. Her ability to succinctly put into words that which most women have trouble articulating is commendable. Priorities are not only a moral dilemma, but a financial one. The ideal mix of working and family time is different for everyone, but providing the best for our families is no longer the pure burden of one spouse. The Working Mother Experience book drew upon many people's experiences from many locations, religions, and corporate levels. Most of the authors did not get to read any stories except for their own until after publication earlier this year. Yet, the themes of boundaries, sacrifice, and wanting a better life for our children are ubiquitous. All of the stories in this book are from EMC employees, but since the book was published we have been exposed to the reaction and comments of outside consumers and the same holds true. We all strive to strike the right balance. We hope we are creating harmonious households while following our own personal cocktail of choices. The Mommy Wars (stay at home moms vs working moms) are fueled by inherently imperfect people, making imperfect choices, in an imperfect world desperate to validate their own decisions or beliefs as the right ones. The article ends with the statement "When mothers can choose, they choose self-empowerment. Because they know that there is no true difference between their advancement and the advancement of their children. Why do we so enduringly deny them the dignity of choice?" ...Amen **updating to add link to Downtown Women's Club. Apparently this post moved Diane K Danielson as much as it moved me. Her post on the subject is fantastic and worth a read.

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EMC Hosts EMC Children's Day in Hopkinton

  Children's Day T-shirt

Recently, two working mothers at EMC joined forces and co-chaired "Children's Day" 2009.  An effort that involved 70+ volunteers from working parents who were long time EMCers to Interns here for the summer.  The event brought everyone together for a day to celebrate employees as a whole;  the family side as well as the productive employee side.  My personal thoughts on the day can be read here.
Becky Martins,  an EMC Marketing Leadership Development Program Associate wrote a terrific write-up about the day and she has given permission for it to be reprinted here for you to enjoy.  Thanks, Becky! EMC Children’s Day welcomed employees’ families with a smile. Described by attendees as being like a giant family reunion, the event brought nearly 350 guests into the EMC Hopkinton headquarters courtyard in mid-August, including EMC parents, spouses, 70 employee volunteers, and nearly 200 children. “Our first Hopkinton Children’s Day brought a ‘fresh-air twist’ to the traditional ‘take your child to work’ day,” says Daisy Alba, Sr. Manager of Global Cash Management. “It was wonderful to see the kids having fun and enjoying themselves at their parents’ workplace. Since many of us spend a lot of hours at work, it was great to share our professional lives with the little ones.” Daisy initiated and co-led planning for Children’s Day with Natalie Corridan-Gregg, Team Lead for Symmetrix Management Strategy, after witnessing similar successful programs at RSA and other EMC divisions. Daisy adds, “With this event, EMC really demonstrated the importance it places on its employees and a balanced work/family environment.” “EMC Children’s Day was successful because a great number of busy EMCers got together and made something amazing happen in their spare time,” Natalie says. “EMC is such a great place to work because people always find time to do what’s right.” Activities EMC Children’s Day boasted a wealth of activities divided by age group, including outdoor games, arts and crafts, hands-on educational programs, face painting, bouncy houses, a live DJ, Clarity the Clown, and an ice cream social. EMC Celerra Man, Mr. Incredible, and the Boston Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster even made cameo appearances. Looking down into the courtyard, 176 South Street employees couldn’t miss the happy faces of EMC parents, children, and employees alike. “When we choose to invest in those most important to us, everyone wins,” says VP of Employment Brand and Strategy Engagement Polly Pearson, who not only helped execute the event, but also enjoyed EMC Children’s Day with her own family. Walking to the car that afternoon, her own generally cool and collected 4-year-old son couldn’t help but admit, ‘Mom, THAT was fun!’” Frank Hauck, EVP of the EMC Storage Division, Global Marketing and Customer Quality, joined the 2009 Marketing Leadership Development Program team to try to bring EMC’s business to life for the children. He was pleased with the outcome and level of employee dedication. He says, “Children’s Day was one of those ‘feel-good moments’ that make EMC a really special place to work.”

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