Subha Barry on Juggling Career, Motherhood, and Everything Else

Our second Virtual Happy Hour this month featured Subha Barry, the VP and General Manager of Working Mother Media. Subha spoke with Gloria Feldt on how to win what she calls the “juggle struggle” over the years, with plenty examples from her own personal life. View the entire conversation here.Working-Mother-June-July-coverOn how she built her career path:Subha grew up in India where she was encouraged to do a lot of things: go to college and follow an endeavor she was passionate about, for example, all targeted to making for a good marriage.  Subha was ambitious and she worked her way to USA to study. It was here that she settled down and had two children. She mentioned an interesting anecdote: during her first pregnancy, the company she worked at did not have maternity leave. So within two weeks of delivery she was back to work. This was possible with the help of her family. Interestingly, when she gave birth to her second child, she was working at Merrill Lynch, where her manager gave her the full support and freedom to enjoy motherhood without the stress of work.In reflection on her career thus far, she sees that she’s pursued a variety of interests, and she encourages young women to follow their heart as there are plenty of opportunities out there.On the Working Mother Study – The Juggle Struggle:Working Mother conducted a survey of 500 women who were working mothers, i.e. anyone with a child below 18 at home. Here’s what they found:

  • In choosing a place of work, job security and flexibility were most important to women, then earnings and benefits.
  • Most women were not really excited about career enhancement opportunities and 40% women said that their managers were NOT “family-friendly.”
  • Satisfaction was seen most in women at executive levels, followed by women and moms who had flexibility at work, and least for those whom a job was only to make a living for.

So what should women do? Have a game plan about how you want to structure your work, Barry recommends. Ensure a disciplined environment to make it happen. Show how you drive outcomes. (Learn more about developing these skills by signing up for our 9 Leadership Power Tools Workshop coming up this Jan 24!) And last, but not least, there are laws in place that you can refer to when negotiating with your employer.On what we can do together in our organizations to support each other:Women tend to believe that challenges are theirs alone rather than shared challenges. This is changing somewhat with younger generation. Subha shouts out to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of taking 2-month paternity leave to bond with his baby girl. And at the Men as Allies Summit, for example, there was talk about true partnerships at work and at home, as to how men and women can lead together to solve problems benefiting families. Gloria Feldt, added to this by reminding us the fastest way for women to reach C-Suite in leadership is for men to take their responsibility with child bearing activities.On how to help women become effective leaders:subha barryEven if you are the only person you are leading, you are a leader! The more you lead yourself and take initiative in doing so, this sets the tone for how people perceive you. Find a job that plays to your strengths, take risks, and aim to find the intersect between skills and passion.On special issues to be aware of for the juggle struggle from a diversity perspective:If women feel underrepresented in the workplace, women of color feel it even more acutely as they have even fewer role models. When you don’t see role models that look like you, you can very often question if its possible. What you can do is that accept things are harder. Between a white man and white woman, only the gender bridge has to be crossed; between a white man and a man of color, only the race bridge needs to be crossed; but for a white man and a woman of color, these become 2 bridges to be crossed. Which is why as women of color, we must work with white women as allies.On Work-Balance journey tips:

  • You have to have courage. Everything may not work, but you have to keep going.
  • Be resilient.
  • Include others and bring them along in your journey.
  • Be empathetic and authentic.

Final quote on how to achieve parity by #25not95:

  • [bctt tweet=“Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi”]
  • Think of the role you want to play.
  • Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

 Resources:Working MotherMoms@Work: The Working Mother ReportDiversity Best PracticesNational Association for Female Executives9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career