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Being a Parent at Cloudflare
Presented by Cristina Lasagni, Vasso Giovitsis, Alexandra Logan
Originally aired on
April 21, 2021 @ 6:00 AM - 6:30 AM EDT
A discussion on work-life balance for parents in a hyper growth company.
Hello all, welcome to Cloudflare TV and how being a parent at Cloudflare looks like.
So my name is Vasso and I work in the direct sales team alongside with Alex Logan and Cristina Lasagni and we're here to hear how these two very talented and successful ladies go about being a very successful professional but also having the responsibility of being a parent.
I joined the sales and we're here because Alex and Cristina and myself we were the first let's say ladies in the direct sales team in London and while I don't have children these two ladies do and they are always they have been an inspiration for me and this is it would be very great to share how they go about being a successful let's say professional plus a parent.
So ladies to you.
I'll start, hello everybody my name is Cristina Lasagni and thanks for the kind words Vasso.
I am a team lead for a southern European commercial department here at Cloudflare and yeah I was the first woman together with Alex in direct sales here at Cloudflare in the London office.
Hi everybody my name is Alexandra Logan.
I am a manager, I manage the inbound and expansion teams here in London and yes I with Cristina are probably the first mothers in the team both Cristina and I joined around but four what five and four years ago and yeah really excited to share some of our experiences with all of you.
Cool thank you for the introduction ladies and I have my first question.
So how do you combine being a mother with being a successful professional at Cloudflare?
What are the challenges that you face and how do you overcome them?
I'll go first.
It's a bit weird to cover video but yeah happy to. Well you know I believe in doing what you love and I'm really lucky because I love both my job and my family.
Since I've got very young kids I you know that I need to be more effective during working hours obviously and you know then I have to do breakups to you know pick the kids up from school and then after the bedtime I would be working back online so around 9 9 30.
So I'm really lucky because I can do with my time I can organize my time as I wish yeah and I'm totally supported by my manager and my team about how I use my time and in exchange I do exactly the same with him because I understand there is you know priorities in life and your life goes on especially with this pandemic that make things a bit more complicated.
But you know I think it's important the fact that we have the company backs me up it's pretty much in in the Cloudflare culture.
As to challenges I think you you made a couple of questions there just to reply to the challenges that we face and how do we overcome them.
I think as a mother of young children I always I'm always self -conscious that you know I need to be at the right place in the right moment.
When I'm with my kids though I worry that I have work to do and I will do the shopping list of all the action items I've got on my agenda and vice versa when I'm not working.
I would feel guilty for not spending time with my kids that are very young and time goes and run very fast so always having this feeling of you know missing out something a bit of a FOMO in both scenarios.
And I'm still on the journey but do and for your family and for your for your team actually because obviously we also have a team that support us and work with us.
And it's about you know not giving up not giving up on your kids because of work and not giving up on your work because of kids.
So I don't want to be in that position to choose one the other because I love them both.
So what I do to keep that balance and to help me focus is personally I require time some me time to meditate.
So people go for a kind of this kind of person but which could be something happens to work fine that goes on in any case right.
But what is my goal? What am I going to do today to make the difference both at work and with my family?
And that kind of vision I meditate with a man to take the bed keep sharp and combine everything that I want to achieve in life.
And it's amazing for me because through that process I can I don't know to combine everything that goes on in life and establish a firm rhythm for my life and for my goals.
It's really cool that you found something like meditating for example that helps you not only professionally or in being a mother but also like it gives you like some mental courage as well like it helps you mentally as well which is really cool.
Thank you. Alex how about you? I think in my case yeah like Christina like every single mother what mother does not worry about not spending enough time with the children.
It's a natural feeling that you can't help it just happens naturally.
I think that one of the advantages of working at Cloudflare is like the level of support that we get.
The founders our parents almost most of them are parents and as well and they they value in the same way we value Christina and I.
We value our professional life being successful and being successful for our children while we're going to live to them where we go.
But also giving our children quality time giving the children what they need and our love and it's a really hard balance sometimes if you work for with all due respect for traditional companies where perhaps you know you you're not flexible with your time.
You don't you perhaps don't have the support but we're very lucky at Cloudflare.
I think in my particular case like Christina it's a matter of getting really really organized and make those my work hours as effective as possible.
So at 6 p.m that's my hard cut. I stopped working at 6. Obviously with some exceptions if it is something but I try to if I'm not there that my husband is there to to help with with my daughter.
She's a teenager now but she's also very much involved and she knows what's what's happening now with pandemic times.
She knows who's who she sees me on on my calls all the time as well so she knows every single person in my team which is great.
They also also see them that they know what mommy's doing is is great.
She's like okay now I understand whereas if they were normal times they they wouldn't have an idea.
Now they know a little bit especially when they're they're a little bit older than Christina's children.
But you know it's that feeling of prioritizing your time because every single minute in my case every single minute that I that I that I don't use wisely is one minute away from my child.
With that said we're very lucky as as Christina mentioned we have a flexible flexible time holidays as well that helps me really really plan what I'm going to do during the holidays etc with with flexibility and and that really helps and also being very very lucky my support network is also great so yeah counting my blessings there too.
Cool it's really interesting uh that the pandemic has not only given us some let's say challenges but also has given us some opportunity to let's say learn like your daughter wouldn't have known how you work and what you do at work hadn't had it not been for the pandemic really interesting here.
Yeah yeah yeah yeah I think I think I think it's definitely uh changed the way we we see life as well not only as employees not not only as human beings but also as parents right we we're getting to spend more time with children whereas before we didn't have the chance and that that in itself the last year has also been a blessing and you know for for a lot of us that we we get to stay with with our children so when they come to from from school you're there sometimes you didn't have the chance before so it's been really really good experience uh so far in terms of being a parent during pandemic times which can be challenging.
Yes great you're right could have been much for us let's put it this way agreed when I understand um that leads me to my next question which I have for you ladies is your birth and management has being a mother helped you manage a team and um if yes in what way did it shape your management style let's say um has it changed has your outlook changed at all?
Cristina? That's a very very broad question uh a bit of self-reflection here I think since I came back to work the second time around um I I I still believe that management and parenting have a common especially when you work with a team yeah you need to care so and I do care for my team as if they were my own family I literally treat them and as an extension for my family so nobody's left behind we are here together I am not the boss we are all together in the same and we all contribute to the success of the team yeah nobody's last so um and I think by caring for the children you're gonna order you're gonna fire your children can you so you need to understand where your teams come from where people come from and you know adapt and grow with them as you would do with your with your own children yeah it's your team it's uh it's the other half of your life so they are equally important um and and some time ago we received um a kind of a training or awareness session organized by our by our very own VP of HR um she she brought a lady uh which is uh whose name is Emi Henderson I think Alex you were on it as well she's the CEO of a company called TentLab.
TentLab is a non-profit company that strives to help um corporations to hire more diverse specifically working parents and you know find solution for working mothers or people that want to get back inserted into the work life so they have found that um raising your kids makes you more emotionally intelligent so that you are in a better position to work with others and and this is kind of revolutionary if you want because I think back in the days you would always think oh um you know if you if you're a working mother then you cannot do properly your job because you have to take care of your kids and and this research that Emi has done it's uh literally shows the quite the opposite so it's refreshing and it's relieving I have to say um and and for me one thing that um uh was very interesting is that she came theories with whose name is Martin Noah who said that Darwin, Charles Darwin was actually wrong so she's he says that uh collaboration not competition is key to survival and and this is my mantra this is my motto for when I am at work so I encourage teamwork I am the first one that you know is interested in not only um what people do in the work life but I'm also interested to see if there is something going on in their life to head to lend a hand like doing above and beyond to enable this team collaboration this team success so this for me and this is actually what I also like to do and this is one of the reason why I'm team lead um because I want to help others and and for me this this research as I said is refreshing and really um I think opens new perspective not only to the company but also for myself as a person so this is what I think.
It's very interesting how how let's say your personal life um kind of um flows into your professional life as well and how you let's say your learnings from your personal life go and um help you in your professional life as well.
Alex? Again that's a really good question Basso um I think in my personal uh from my personal experience I had the opportunity to be to to to lead a team a smaller team at the time and I can definitely see that that motherhood changed the way I I manage my team um especially during these times and I keep mentioning I know but during the pandemic um I felt like an immense sense of responsibility um and and duty of care that I needed to to know that you know that my team were okay that each one of them individually were in a position not only to perform perform comes when the individuals are doing well but I sort of worry about every single one of them in previous quarters when I was managing around 20 people I thought okay doing my catch-ups with them we um on a weekly basis I used to ask at the very beginning and um you know how are you doing in general how's your current setup at home do you have anything everything you need are you communicating with people are you able to go out because those are hard times and if we see that people sometimes are living on their own that can be very very difficult so I think that that being a mom definitely I I see them as my like Chris said like my other children um right you need to you need to make sure that they're doing well and once it well once you know they can perform that that will come so as a manager I worry first about how they doing and then performance will will come um also I think that it is um doing obviously doing these times um as being being a mother has also taught me um you know from how home from their perspective to see uh to see things how would I feel if if I'm having a conversation around performance for example with someone how would he feel if or how would I feel if this was my child um and that sort of helped me sort of understand a little bit and and sort of have conversations sometimes about performance and not performance but ultimately being a mother has helped me to understand where other people are coming from and value uh you know the the individual uh circumstances and value all of the all of the efforts as well um so yeah I think I hope that answers the question it does indeed what I'm what my takeaway is from uh you ladies is that empathy is here the key like empathy um with uh you've learned let's say what you what you've learned from being a mother you're just bringing it into your job as well and that makes you um more attuned to the needs of your team and it's very funny that you mentioned empathy because what I mean Henderson were saying during this workshop as I mentioned before is that our brain when you become a parent becomes wired in a different way you know I don't recall the technicality but you have different mechanism in your brain different little things that travel around your brain that makes new connection so not only you're emotionally intelligent but you're also more effective in how to work because as we said before you have so many hours in day and you have to make sure that you manage to do it all as also Alex I think echoed on on that so at work we may be perceived not to work less because we have many distractions but the work that we that we do in that amount of time is 100% is spot on you know when without kids life was more relaxed it was like I'm going for a coffee I'm going with a chat with my friends and now I'm like sorry I've got 30 minutes and we need to get this done and I think um it's a better way better use of of everybody's time yeah I agree with Christina like uh time for me and cheesy as it sounds I know time is gold and uh time that I'm not spending anything anything useful is time that perhaps I could use in you know in with my child and and also not only being a no not only being a parent during these times but also being a parent being a manager and being a successful manager can be can be hard but it I mean say it can be hard can be challenging but it's really down hard down to how you use your time you have to be super strict with your time do not give do not give time to things that are not a priority so that's that's that's what I do all day I feel like my priority is during the day do this I start the day and my priority is this 15 minutes later my priority is this um and it's really down to time and how wise you you manage your time give time to to the things that are going to help you get to your goal uh meetings that perhaps can be postponed that are not really necessary question meetings sometimes is this really needed can we do a email can we have a quick chat we don't we don't sometimes we feel the need that okay we put 30 minutes of a team's time do we need really need to do 30 minutes and if the answer is you can do it in 10 minutes and it's equally effective well do it in 10 minutes uh but every single every single minute uh really counts towards a getting a very better performance as a manager um and be dedicating time for your children too cool so time management sorry last comment sorry last sorry if I if time allows uh I think um I just want to add another point here and it's a personal choice to do work and family there are some people that decide to do one or the other yeah as everything this is a choice if you don't want to look after your kids hire a nanny if you just want to look after your kids it's fine the other half or you you will have some other source of income I'm sure but there's no right or wrong I'm not here to say this is you know the way forward it's just my experience my personal experience in trying to do both and the best of my abilities still a long way to go far from being perfect but trying to we're all work in progress let's say but I heard very loud and clear that one of your one piece of advice let's say that you would give to parents to who are professionals or who want to come back or who are about professionals who think about having um children is time management good time management what would you what else would you advise other parents or professionals that are thinking uh about becoming parents I think that answer that's also a really good question um get your support network organized if you're planning on having children or if happening unexpectedly as it happens uh just make sure that you have a good support network if you have it and then if if you if you don't have it like many many people done in this country many other countries uh just be open and talk to managers talk to you leaders in your organization and and try to get some support and and and clarity of what what would be their expectations now that you have a child how can you manage your time what's the what's the degree of flexibility that they will have with regards to the working hours etc but I think that as parents sometimes um you know people feel guilty like they don't want to be seen differently compared to a to an employee with no with no children uh because sometimes people can think oh they can't work hard enough because they have children and sometimes and they're wrong sometimes some of the top performers could be parents right so it's um so I would say a talk to your managers to you to your company talk to your HR team also internally there's a number of things that you can do as well and here at Klauffler this is a great example to for that we have different ERGs or employee resource groups one of them is Klauffler in which a lot of the parents join the group we have chats we have sessions we have different resources that all together we can ask for more we can ask for for for example we have um a number of activities obviously now in the pandemic we can't do that but uh you know the we have arranged things like for example um a few months ago they decided to give some of the old laptops that we had as employees were given to children that perhaps were working from from um studying from home and and and the likes but so they did things really good things like that um other things are in terms of insurance sometimes is you know is better and cheaper if you get as a group so we internally we we have I think we really look well after uh from that perspective even our extended family as well we had they have like um additional health um support insurance if you will so that's that's good another thing is um do not be afraid to ask you're not less valuable because you are a parent um you're not less capable because you are a parent quite the opposite I think that some of my motivation to do well at work uh is my daughter I really want to do well for her I want her to be proud of me I want her to you know that I want to give her things that perhaps I didn't have as a child I want her to go on holidays I want her to to have a nice house and things like that and I and I make sure that I work really really hard but also that I spend time with her because there's no there's no point having a nice house if you don't spend time with your children that's very fantastic Alex is amazing and thanks for sharing such a personal thought that all parents may have but you express this beautifully I think how about you what were your advice for me I think Alex said half of the things that I had to say please sorry but what can I say great mind things alike so um I think I echo totally what Alex says um the you know build your support network um and I think one of my concern one of the things that I hear sometimes is people that don't want to have children because they say oh what happened to my professional life and I think I live by the not to be afraid not to be scared of not achieving something I'm quite the opposite I learned to be quite the opposite because perhaps the if you don't do that you're never going to achieve that is the way we have been raised since we were children I have learned that there is a much better way which is shoot for the moon worst case scenario I'm gonna start right so this is this is my uh my philosophy in life and and for me having a children it's I'm not gonna lie it's it's tough but it's the best thing that I have I so rewarding yeah so before I was spending time going to the gym now I spend time playing with my kids and I don't have time to go to the gym but the end of the day I'm so happy that I can help other human being to develop and be the best version of themselves by me leading by example as Alex said this is the purpose of our lives otherwise it's just you know day in day out another day at the office uh so do um do your work with passion and and be with your kids with passion as if it was the last day of your life so this is this is what I try to do every every day yeah and other than that if you think of having kids or you already have kids and you know you're you're as likely to work at Cloudflare very well as Alex said we have many uh and like a huge support network um you know as as Alex said we started with no parents almost no parents in the in the company just thinking of London here because the U .S.
is much bigger than than EMEA office and now we we grow we grow the team to be very diverse and we have more and more parents and it's exciting to see the company grow from zero to here like like we are doing right now and diversifying the skill set and the background of people that we have so for for me it's um it's if you don't work for Cloudflare as I was saying before try to find another company uh that supports you that have your back that have benefit scheme in place that have child care vouchers because having kids is expensive you know that have benefits dental health care Cloudflare provides them all we are really really lucky so you know I think this makes a difference at the end of the day as Alex said you need to have security like work security and and financial security if you want to perform well and to do well also at home because obviously it's only natural to want the best for your kids of course of course well I don't know ladies I think um you're an inspiration to all of us um because it's not easy like I'm talking from a perspective of a person that a professional that doesn't have children or these responsibilities and sometimes my working days are daunting because the schedule is full and you have so many responsibilities you don't know what to tackle first let alone having a family so you're really inspiring and how you handle um both sides of your lives let's say and manage to be successful on both sides and um what my takeaway is um from that and please correct me if I'm wrong that uh do what you would like to do shoot for the stars no shoot for the moon basically and um do what you really want to do and if you really um do what you love then you will be successful no matter the challenges or no matter the obstacles I hope that I got that right and I hope that um this is the message that we would like to get across yeah totally in line with my way of thinking yeah and um has do you think that um people like I was thinking that sometimes it's daunting but as you said that we we need to um be I don't know maybe courageous or maybe sometimes grab I don't know the opportunity and just um do what we love and what we think we would like to do I said yes Chris sorry about so I think that like Christina said um you know your children um are not are not going to stop you being successful it hasn't stopped us at Cloughlet and we're not the only we're not the only mothers at Cloughlet that are in management and uh without being modest um that are successful so let let your children be your motivation and I'm sure that you you work or you work out you you're gonna find the time you're gonna be more organized with your time you're gonna ask for support if you need it because it's it's sometimes you need it let's be honest okay bye bye