For those of you who have been following the LBS Mompreneur Diaries series here on LoveBrownSugar, you know I’ve been using it as a platform to share my personal tips and tricks for success balancing work and life as a full-time mompreneur. There are so many working moms out there, many of whom function as intrapreneurs, managing teams and taking on important management roles within an organization on top of managing small teams right at home! It requires the same balance and support to have a successful corporate career as it does when you run your own business.
So I am proud to partner with Capital One for the very first “Working Mom” edition of Mompreneur Diaries to chat with some women of color who are killing it at work and at home. Capital One is consistently recognized for its exceptional workplace culture and for supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives across the entire organization. That’s why I was so excited to work with them to offer this series, because they get it. They’ve been ranked on Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” and Working Mother Magazine’s “100 Best Companies” to name a few.
Our first profile is of working single mom and super chic techie Kenya Paul – Senior Manager of Information Security at Capital One. Alongside her busy role as a senior manager, Kenya finds time to take care of her 13-year-old daughter, mentor young girls on the growth and opportunities in the tech industry, and balance her many responsibilities while still making self-care a priority. Read below for my interview with Kenya:
What does your job entail at Capital One?
I work on an Information Security team that assesses risks for the organization’s security. We want to make sure our employees are doing their work in the most secure way possible.
When you were young did you ever see yourself filling this type of role?
Absolutely not! When I was young, Information Security didn’t even exist! I didn’t even have an email address. I always knew I would do something in engineering. As I got older and the Web and tech world developed, it became a natural progression. It pulled me in.
What were you like as a child?
As a kid, I was the really outgoing social butterfly. It’s funny, because my daughter is the exact opposite. But I always liked to hang out and I’ve always liked the stage. Whether it was being part of a play, or sports or cheerleading. I’ve always had the benefit of exposure. I had exposure to other women in various career fields and I was part of a lot of programs that exposed girls to women in leadership. Just being part of that helped me, even when I didn’t know what I’d be doing in the future.
You’ve been a mother for 13 years. What are some important lessons you’re teaching your daughter about women in technology?
My daughter has a front row seat to my life as a woman in technology. I’m a single mom. We relocated here from Dallas two years ago for this job opportunity. So for her to see that I moved for work, as opposed to other families who may only move when the dad relocates for work, it shows her that I’m in that same playing field and that’s normal for her. I’ve always had the ability to bring her to my job and show her around so that she knows what it means and how it looks to be a woman at work.
She is interested in medicine, and I’ve been trying to push her toward technology. She wants to be an otolaryngologist or an orthopedic surgeon. As her mom, I’m trying to give her ways to throw technology into that. I just believe that this career path is perfect for working mothers. There’s flexibility, income and perks that come along with being in tech. I’m trying to show her that there’s more out there beyond being a doctor or a lawyer. It was great when I got the opportunity to bring her to an event like the Women in Tech Demo Day hosted by Capital One that supported Black Girls Code, to show her that there’s so much more opportunity in tech.
What are some of the highlights of working at a place like Capital One?
One of the reasons I chose a position at Capital One is because I thought it would be a great place to work as a mom. Especially being away from home, family and close friends as a single mom. Being able to log on remotely from home while my daughter is getting ready for school, and not having to rush her out is huge. Having that flexibility with time and being able to leave to go to her school or volunteer on field trips (even though I’m no longer the cool mom!) – I’ve never felt that at any other place of work.
That’s what’s different about Capital One. Especially working in a male-dominated field, as women we try to be quiet about having kids and having to go do the mom thing. But here, it’s celebrated. I’m surrounded by other moms and we talk about that. Capital One has been so supportive and I feel so indebted to the company just to have that kind of flexibility.
How can we help bridge the gap for women of color in the tech industry?
It starts at a young age. Exposure is key. The more kids, teens and college-age girls who are exposed, the better it will be. We’ll have more candidates graduating that these companies can hire. I try to do my part by mentoring girls I meet. At the Black Girls Code event that was sponsored by Capital One, for example, I exchanged information with a few, just to help push them along. In college, I was the only girl in my lab classes. You have to be a pretty strong woman to endure and thrive in that type of environment. I try to make it cool as well, so people see I’m not just some nerd in a hoodie and that tech can be cool, too.
What’s your work “uniform” and what are your staple pieces for looking cool and confident on the job?
For most of the week, I’m in a suit. I’m more comfortable dressing up. I always throw a suit jacket on, just in case I go out with friends after work or anything. I try to make sure I’m ready for anything. On Fridays, I might wear my jeans and my favorite “Women in Tech” t-shirts with a blazer.
What are some of your beauty staples for work?
Makeup is what helps me transform from Cyber Kenya to After-Hours Kenya, so I save it for days when I’m feeling like I want a little something extra. I hardly wear makeup to work unless I’m doing a presentation or an important meeting, for example. I keep my makeup bag in my car for times like that. But I definitely do wear MAC lip gloss, so that’s probably my staple.
How do you find balance as a single working mom?
I give a lot of credit to Capital One for that. One of the things I used to struggle with is finding time to work out with all these responsibilities I have to juggle. But because we have a gym on site, it makes it easy for me to go down on my lunch break and meet with a personal trainer. I get two free sessions a week, which is huge! It frees me up for the evenings and weekends, so I can come home and listen to everything about my daughter’s day. She’s a girly-girl and she absolutely loves to talk, so having that time with her is special. Working at Capital One just makes my life easier and allows me to focus on both my career and my daughter.
What about you? Any other working moms out there? What are some of your tips for balancing career and family? Feel free to share below.
Kudos to Capital One for having such a progressive workplace that supports women like Kenya as they balance work and family. For more information, please visit: http://www.capitalone.com/inclusion. This post series is sponsored by Capital One. All opinions expressed above are my own and not those of the company.