Palo Alto, CA
Never be afraid to ask for what you need to make your whole life — not just your work life — work for you.
One of the most pivotal opportunities in my life came right after I'd moved into operations at Google. I'd just taken on the responsibility of managing a large team when I was asked to commit to running the company's sales operations in India. I'd always wanted to work abroad, but I didn't want to put my life on hold to do it. My husband wasn't in a position to relocate, so the move would mean living apart for an entire year. It would also mean delaying our plans to start a family. Talking with my closest friends was of little use — some encouraged me to go for it, others cautioned that a move to India could derail my plans to start a family and put considerable stress on my marriage.
I was torn. I'd lived my whole life on the shoulders of others and didn't want to let anyone down. Plus, I'll admit it, I was scared. I'd traveled to India many times, but the thought of living and working there was much more daunting. Not only was there a new language and culture to consider, but India's classically male-dominated environment wouldn't be easy for an African American woman to navigate. Still, the more I weighed the pros and cons, the more I realized I wanted the challenge. I sat down with my husband and made a list of all of the things we needed to do to make it work. I took that list back to my manager and he agreed to meet my requests. Within 48 hours, I was on my way to India.
I wouldn't trade that decision for anything. I ended up having an amazing experience and my husband of 13 years is still with me today — along with our daughter. Having a supportive spouse really made the choice a lot easier, and I learned one of the biggest lessons of my career: Never be afraid to ask for what you need to make your whole life — not just your work life — work for you. Realizing this made me confident that I could have the career I wanted without sacrificing my marriage or the opportunity to start a family. I plan to always encourage my daughter to follow her dreams and pursue her passions, even when they seem impossible to achieve.
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