Julie Kissell

Senior Project Manager

Novato, CA

My advice is to be honest with yourself about what you need to do to care for your family.

I married my second husband in 1995. We had one child together and he is the only good thing that resulted in that marriage. I filed for legal separation in September of 1997. I joined CIsco in January of 2000 as a single working mother raising two children. I traveled; each time I did I was able to draw on a network of friends to help care for my children. I traveled every other month or so and would attend training to increase my knowledge in my profession.

In June 2006 I was dealing with a personal life that I had never expected to be living. My ex-husband was a drug addict and had become homeless. We shared custody of our son, even though I had evidence that my ex-husband was not providing proper care, the court system felt that it was reasonable for custody to be shared. In 2001, I was in DC six weeks after 9/11 on business. I was sitting in a business meeting when I received a call from my son's daycare that no one had picked him up (it was 6pm). I excused myself and called my best friend Gina, who went over to pick up my son. This was the first of many of these calls I received.

In July of 2006, I finally had the courage to ask for a position at Cisco that did not require travel. At the time, I contacted a director who I had previously worked under. I was transferred to a new team almost immediately.

My son is now a junior in high school and will be getting his driver's license soon. I have experimented with travel over the past six months and have support from friends and my daughter to help my son while I travel.

I recently ran into the director who moved me into a position that allowed me to protect and care for my son when he was young. I applied for a position on his team two weeks ago, interviewed and accepted a lateral position knowing that I now have opportunity for growth.

My advice is to be honest with yourself about what you need to do to care for your family. Once you recognize and accept your role, decide how to proceed with your future. I was afraid to ask for a position that enabled me to stay home to be there for my child,  but I knew in my heart there was no harm in asking.

Get more from Lean In

Start a Circle

We make it easy to get started, and provide all of the materials you’ll need to run your Circle

Start your Circle

Join a Circle

Women around the world are meeting regularly in small groups to support each other and learn new skills–join one today

Find a Circle

Learn New Skills

Use our library of education resources to build new skills and support your career

Build your skills