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August 16, 2006

Thoughts on Meredith Vieira (NBC News "Today Show") and on Redefining Work

MvieiraThis is a (October 1990) picture of Meredith Vieira, who was then co-anchoring the CBS show "60 Minutes".  When I saw this picture in the New York Times Magazine article "Her Morning Shift" by Lisa Belkin, it made me think of when I was pregnant with my first son. At that time, I was a Senior Manager at a worldwide accounting firm that was very supportive of working moms. I even went to the "Apprentice like" Senior Manager training week designed to identify Partner candidates when I was 7 months pregnant. I worked long hours on business cases to prove to myself that being a mom would not slow me down. But I wondered, "Will I be able to balance career and child? Will I be able to stay on the Partner track with my other, non-pregnant, associates?" Luckily, while I was concerned my company promoted many working mothers.  So I, like Meredith shows in this picture, went back to work part-time after my first child.

The article showcases Meredith Vieira's journey from TV News, taking time off to spend with her children and then redefining herself into one of the top TV news jobs: taking Katie Couric's place as co-anchor of NBC News' "Today Show". With so many heated discussions on mommy wars, work-life balance and women leaving the workforce to care for their kids, it was refreshing to read a real-life story of a woman taking action for her family and career.   

I stayed on my work track until my second pregnancy.  After gaining 70 pounds with twin boys I could not leave the house or think of going back to work. I had my twins and was so busy with my three boys that I did not have a chance to look back. I was confident of my decision but at times felt like screaming out to those staring at me while my twins were grabbing food off the shelves at the grocery store, "I was on partner track but decided to leave work to care for my kids, so worship me!"   I wondered how I would be able to enter the workforce again after my kids were older. Considering I specialized in computer security, taking off eight years (until all kids are in Kindergarten) means that technology will have totally changed before I return to work. Many Silicon Valley moms I talk to share this concern or feel that the career they had before kids does not fit their family balance. So, how does a mom start up her career again after taking time off for kids?

Meredith Vieira left 60 minutes to take care of her children. After the kids were older she re-invented her career by accepting a position as co-host of The View. This show allowed her the flexibility of dropping her kids off at school and spending the afternoons with them. Instead of being dismissed or marginalized for being a working mother, she then reached a new career high by being asked to co-anchor the Today Show.

So, maybe the key to re-entering the workforce - after taking time off to raise kids - is to redefine yourself into a career that fits your family balance. Since I am writing this post while my kids are napping, I can say blogging is the direction I am heading. And I already feel connected.

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