Female Execs Share the Truth About Being a Working Mom & Overcoming Challenges

Today’s working women are forever doing a balancing act, finding the right mix between their home and work lives. The issue gets even more complex when these women also happen to be mothers.

While employers are increasingly stepping up to the plate by offering flexible schedules and extending maternity-leave benefits, moms are often faced with such challenges as unreliable child care and single-parent households.

Here, some of the shoe industry’s working mothers share their challenges while offering advice to employers about navigating these waters.

Lisa Lewis
CREDIT: Keds

Lisa Lewis, VP of marketing, Keds

Children: One 2-year-old

Biggest challenge you have faced as a working mom: 

“Making it all work by being present when I’m at work, when I’m at home with my family and when I need time for myself. I want to make sure I feel good about the input and output I get from both ends.”

Most important lesson learned along the way: 

“Making time for myself is a must and not something to feel guilty about. My health is important and ensuring that I exercise and eat healthy takes time and preparation. I‘m at my best self when those things are in play, and I feel it makes me a better employee, supervisor, mom, wife and friend. Also, choose your partner wisely.  Gender equity is key in our home. My husband carries as much responsibility with our son as I do, sometimes more so. I couldn’t do it without him.”

Do-overs:

“I try to enjoy the path that I’m on and be grateful for the experiences I’ve have had.”

Advice to new moms reentering the workforce:  

Be kind to yourself. We can be our toughest critics, and those voices in our head can be super judgmental. But, I think it’s important to nurture ourselves the way we would treat others we love.”

Advice to companies regarding policies for working moms:

“We already live in a world that is default male, where it’s taken for granted that the male perspective is central to so many things. The reality is that men move through the world unaware that it’s been designed for their comfort, while women move through the world encountering daily points of friction. Companies need to provide more opportunity for flexibility and openness to new ways of working for new moms and [other] moms. I think ultimately this has larger payouts for the company in employee productivity, engagement and loyalty.”


Michelle Poole
CREDIT: Crocs

Michelle Poole, SVP, chief product & merchandising officer, Crocs

Children: One 10-year-old

Biggest challenge you have faced as a working mom:

“Being present when I’m not at work. I may not be around all the time, but when I am with my son I try to really give him my full attention. In a few years, he’s not going to want to hang out with me, so I’m trying to make the most of it while I can.”

Most important lesson learned along the way: 

“Speak up. When I have important personal things going on that need to take priority, such as the first day of school, school plays, etc. You can always catch up on the work, but you don’t get to see the school play again and it means everything to my son that I’m there.

Do-overs:

I felt like I needed to rush back to work after my son was born, and in hindsight, I could have taken more time and nothing would have fallen apart at work.”

Advice to new moms reentering the workforce:

“Take your time as you adjust to a new routine. Figure out what’s going to work for you, share it with your manager and create a plan that works for everyone.

Advice to companies regarding policies for working moms: 

Find ways to make it a win-win for everyone. Working moms are some of the most productive members of your workforce, and finding creative solutions can play huge dividends.”


Katie Dobbs
CREDIT: Earth Brands

Katie Dobbs, director of marketing, Earth, Inc.


Children: Two, a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old

Biggest challenge you’ve faced as a working mom:


“Trying to be everywhere for everyone all the time. 
I want to be 110% at work and 110% at home, but it’s just not possible.  You have to learn to let go a little and do your best wherever you are at the moment.”

Most important lesson learned along the way:

“Family first. When faced with a tough decision about where you’re needed most at a given time, the answer is always with family.  The work will be there tomorrow. Being a parent is like being a part of a tribe. You realize that most people totally get it and understand the demands of family and work.  It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to lean on others occasionally because you’ll get a chance to extend the same hand someday.”

Do-overs:

“No regrets. You work with what you have, when you have it.  Sure, I wish I could have taken six months or a year off, but that wasn’t in the cards. And to be honest, going back to work helped me feel like myself again. I’m lucky enough that I have a career that I love and work with great people, so going back to work was not something I dreaded.

Advice to new moms reentering the workforce:  

“Be easy on yourself.  When you’re at home, be mom. When you’re at work, focus on the job.  And when it gets to be too much, take a moment for yourself.  Manicures and yoga classes are great mini breaks and you deserve to take them. Lean on others and ask for help. Then, trust that your kids are going to happy and respect their mom for being such an inspiration.”

Advice to companies regarding policies for working moms:


“Offer a paid-maternity [leave] policy.  Being a new mom has enough challenges and sifting from your savings shouldn’t be an added stress, especially if you’ll be budgeting for child care when you go back to work. Offer flexible work schedules.  Mom schedules are unpredictable. These days, it’s so easy to stay connected remotely, so allow your employees, not just moms, to work from home when needed. When you hire people with a great work ethic, you don’t have to worry about whether or not the work will get done. It will.”


Sandra Colon
CREDIT: Birkenstock

Sandra Colon, VP of sales, Birkenstock USA

Children: One 9-year-old

Biggest challenge you face as a working mom: 

“I have a busy work schedule and travel a lot, so often I have to miss things with my son. I try as hard as possible to make it and be available, but it doesn’t always work out.”

Most important lesson learned along the way:  

“Never work for a person or company that doesn’t respect your time with family.”

Do-overs:

“I would have taken more time off before returning to work.”

Advice to new moms reentering the workforce: 

“The most important thing to consider happens before you’re on leave, and that’s about your career choice and who you work for. You should first love what you do, and work with people you respect and who respect you and your personal time. Having a strong foundation and support from your company and colleagues make the utmost difference as you transition back.”

Advice to companies regarding policies for working moms:  

“Women are still the primary caregivers, so I believe more should be done to make being a working mom easier — remote option, child care on site, job sharing.


Jori Miller Sherer, VP business development, Minnetonka Moccasin
Jori Miller Sherer
CREDIT: Courtesy of Minnetonka

Jori Miller Sherer, VP business development, Minnetonka Moccasin

Children: Two, a 2-year-old and a five-month-old

Biggest challenge you faced as a working mom:

There’s never enough time at work or at home.”

Most important lesson learned along the way:

“The conflicting emotions are constant and that’s OK. Some days I’m happy to hand off the kids and go to work, but other days it’s really hard. Accepting this as the new normal alleviates the guilt.”

Do-overs:

“During my second maternity leave, I focused on remembering that my only job was taking care of my baby. Unlike my first maternity leave, I didn’t have delusional plans about all the projects I would cross off my personal to-do list. Making peace with that and enjoying the time was a great improvement.”

Advice to new moms reentering the workforce:

“If you feel confident in your childcare situation — daycare, nanny, stay-at-home husband — you’ll be happier and better at work.”

Advice to companies regarding policies for working moms:

“If you can be flexible with exactly how and when your employee comes back to work, that’s a nice benefit. I came back at 10 weeks and spread out the last two weeks of my leave. This meant the company got me back early and I didn’t have to go full-time immediately.  The point is to be flexible for each person within reason.”

Kelsey Jayne
CREDIT: Dansko

Kelsey Jayne, Footwear Design Manager, Dansko

Children: 4

Biggest Challenge you face as a working mom: 

“There are many challenges we face as working moms, especially in product development roles where there’s a lot of travel. I have breastfed three kids through 15 overseas travel trips ranging from six to 14 days, and am planning to breastfeed a fourth over the next year. The one thing that has really been impactful during my time at Dansko is the quality of the people on the team, both domestically and internationally.  During these travel times, my team has always been very aware and respectful of the required time and space needed to pump to maintain my milk supply.”

Advice to companies regarding policies for working moms:

“My favorite mom-friendly perk is a flexible work schedule.  It allows me to attend all the important ‘life’ events that my kids have throughout the year; birthday walks, poetry readings, special holiday events. They mean the world to the kids. If you miss one event, you find out quickly you don’t want to miss one again.”

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