This year, at the annual Zscaler Sales Kickoff (SKO) in August, we were joined by powerful and inspiring women who shared their stories of setbacks, persistence, and triumphs. Supported by the WIZE (Women in Zscaler Engage) employee resource group, these accomplished women are challenging gender bias head-on and changing the world for girls and women everywhere.
Long before Catherine Lee became a powerful businesswoman and Partner Marketing and Enablement Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan at CrowdStrike, she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up: a mum.
“I’ve always wanted it all,” she said. “But first and foremost I knew I wanted to be a mum—I’ve known it since I was a small girl. As I grew, so too did my ambitions, and while I never wanted to build my own empire, I knew I also desired a successful and fulfilling career that provided independence.”
Lee, who lives in Sydney, Australia, found a way to have it all: an impressive, impactful career in communications and marketing and, in her words, “two human children and one fur-child.” But this dream wasn’t always easy to achieve and finding a balance between family and career priorities proved challenging at times, leading Lee to identify a critical flaw in the work-life balance of a woman.
“Overwhelmingly for women, being a mum and having a career seem to be mutually exclusive, but they shouldn’t have to be. I was fortunate to be able to continue to build my career where I left off after having my children, however, my experience isn’t typical for many women. It’s no secret that the gender divide can happen at any point in a woman’s career, but none more glaringly so than when a woman pauses to have children.”
As Lee articulated in her keynote at SKO, many women take maternity leave after childbirth (if they have the option)—sometimes for six months or more—and if a woman has multiple children, this time off can add up, leaving some women feeling “behind” in their careers. Rejoining the workforce can also have challenges of its own.
“The reality is that most women who rejoin the workforce after maternity leave will rejoin on a lower scale – be it in a part-time capacity; or a more flexible, lower-level job,” she said. “And while we’re working our part-time lower-level job, we’re also feeling guilty about not being a 100% present mother.”
But Lee took this feeling and turned it into action, of being impactful and intentional in both areas of life, while focusing on individual priorities and goals.
“The guilt is real. But I’m here to tell you that it’s OK,” she said. “You don’t need to be mother of the year, you don’t need to be on the executive committee. Being impactful is more than that. It’s important to recognise that being impactful at work is not about the hours you work, it’s about what you do during those hours. And to be an impactful mother, it’s equally important that you’re present and intentional about what you do during the hours you don’t work.”
WIZE is one of many employee resource groups at Zscaler that celebrate and elevate our diverse cultures and unique worldviews. You can be a part of it. Explore career opportunities at Zscaler to join a global team that puts its people first.
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