Family First: From Day 1, a culture of support
by Nick Mandonas Nick Mandonas on

I’ve always been a believer, and I am sure you are too, that your personal life and professional life are difficult to juggle together. When you pay attention to one, the other tends to suffer. Company leaders know this as they deal with the same repercussions in their personal lives themselves. For myself, although I too have realized this dilemma I never really felt its total power until September, 2018. Why September you ask? Well - it happened to be the exact time when career growth and personal growth hit head on and I had to make a choice that would completely change my life.

I had been heads down working as a Customer Success leader for a large IT company in greater Boston. My original company had just been acquired the December before (in a good way) and it was a really exciting time. At the same time, my wife and I were expecting our first child. As her pregnancy ventured into the 3rd trimester, I received an offer to interview with a small company called AppNeta to be their Customer Success Director. I began to delve into the interview process as the role was a really intriguing opportunity. A few weeks later I made it to the final round of the interview process to meet with Matt Stevens - AppNeta’s CEO. The day to interview was for Friday, September 7th, coincidentally my wife’s due date. The work/life balance, always a delicate balance hit a major crossroads. What will my wife think? Do I decline and ask for another time? Can you do that to the CEO? What if she goes into labor? Will I be on Divorce Court? The questions were ongoing. I was not looking forward to this conversation…

I swallowed my fears, brought it up and as it turns out, I could not be luckier to have her in my life as not only was she supportive, she even drove me to the interview and waited for its conclusion! (We had our bags packed in the trunk, just in case). The interview went off without a hitch and just a few days later, my daughter Marianna was born.

I ended up accepting the position during my paternity leave and as much as a whirlwind fatherhood is (ok, maybe a tornado), adding a new job on top of it just completely put my life upside down. So, I was now a father and an AppNetian. All that was familiar was no longer and I went into uncharted waters both personally and professionally. How did I survive? I let the chaos wash over me.

I won’t lie, there were some days where I questioned my choices, or felt the hardships of so much change and new relationships. It isn’t easy learning a new technology, working with new faces and processes on lack of sleep. But looking back on it - I wouldn’t change a thing. A big reason for that are the people and culture. AppNeta is a fun place to work and I enjoy coming here everyday and they are respectful of my needs.

For example, when I started I was given an extra 2 weeks before my start date to spend more time with the baby and helping around the house.

Even today, if I need to leave early to get my daughter from daycare, work remotely if she’s sick or has a doctors appointment, I can do it. I am really grateful to have the opportunity to work here. I remind myself everyday that we are all deserving, but not entitled and I thank everyone here that gave me the opportunity to be a part of it.

So back to the original challenge statement: how does one create an organization that provides the flexibility an employee needs but still creates a challenging environment where individuals grow and contribute?

Well, I don’t have the perfect answer, but I do have some great experiences here AppNeta. Need proof? Let’s just say the baby is thriving and saying “Dada” like its going out of style (much to mama’s dismay).

Filed Under: family first

Tags: HR , human resources , company culture , wfh , PTO , parental leave , paternity leave , maternity leave , employee benefits , family first