Mona Gonzalez and Natalie Nymark are not new to the ad industry or to Pereira O’Dell, but they are both new managers and moms, which has given them unique perspectives on how to balance it all.
Gonzalez, who was recently promoted to MD of Pereira O’Dell’s New York office, joined the agency in October 2014; while Nymark, recently upped to MD of the agency’s San Francisco operation, became part of the shop’s family in January 2017.
Now, the senior leaders, who both have toddlers – Gonzalez with an 18-month old daughter and Nymark with a one-year-old boy – are getting a feel for their new roles at the agency and in their personal lives.
Campaign US caught up with the MDs to hear how they handle it all and what advice they have for other parents.
You're both new moms and new to leadership roles - how do you juggle it all?
Gonzalez: I remind myself that trying to find balance in any one day will make me feel like a failure. When I was pregnant, I was given the very good advice to think of balance as a long-term goal. In other words, will my life in its entirety be the most fulfilling mix of all the things that make me happy? Switching my perspective to think of balance over the course of my life vs. the course of my day has been huge. Beyond that, I’m thankful every day for a family who supports me on my best days and leads when I need to catch my breath. Having a ‘village’ is a privilege and I don’t take it for granted.
Nymark: Having the right support at work and at home is critical. At work, it’s about having a trusted team around you, and being aligned with that team to priorities and roles. At home, having the support of your partner is paramount (my husband is my biggest cheerleader). With the right support network in place juggling the demands of both becomes slightly more manageable.
How has Pereira helped you balance your home life and work responsibilities?
Gonzalez: They listened and worked with me when I told them what I needed as a working mom. It’s that kind of partnership that makes people stay at an agency. Part of the beauty of Pereira O’Dell is that it’s filled with passionate, ultra-creative, wildly ambitious people that I love – but we all agree that the richest, most fulfilling parts of our lives exist outside of the office.
Nymark: I had a fairly complex work/life situation in the first 5-months coming back to work from maternity leave: I lived in Los Angeles (because of my husband’s job) but worked in San Francisco. With a new baby at home, I needed to work 4-days remote and 1-day in the office. I was able to make this work because I had the support and understanding from both the team at Pereira O’Dell and also from my client partners. Being afforded this level of flexibility was critical to my situation, and as a result it helped to increase my commitment to the organization.
What advice do you have for others who are new parents and new in leadership posts?
Gonzalez: Accept help if someone’s kind enough to offer it.
Nymark: Set priorities and then share those priorities with your team so that everyone is aware and aligned to what your focus is. That was a piece of advice that I got from one of my clients. Being committed to those priorities helps make choices easier and faster.
What advice do you have for the industry - other agencies and/or brands - when it comes to supporting new parents who are also managers?
Gonzalez: Don’t consistently ask your team for meetings before 9am or after 6pm. It assumes they have the luxury of having someone else handle their personal commitments, kids or not, and that’s just not the case.
Nymark: Flexibility is so important for new parents, and for anyone going through a life change, the more support and understanding that we can provide the more likely that the individual will be able to find the balance that they need in their life and work. Offering the right services to meet the needs of all employees during any kind of life change needs to be a priority. Evaluating those services often and going above and beyond what is "expected" should be the new norm for all of us. I also think we need to encourage new parents, especially women, to truly step away during their parental leave. For me, it was harder to do than I thought it would be.
And lastly, has being a new parent taught you anything in terms of the way you lead others or manage time?
Gonzalez: Be kind and patient. If you can’t do that, be fair.
Nymark: Being a new parent has really helped me be more present in every situation and with my team. Giving my full attention to what I am doing in the moment and being fully present for that experience.