The secret power of being a Mom and Senior Executive in Tech by Roshni Bhagalia

Automatic Summary

5 Secret Powers of Being a Mother and a Senior Executive in Technology

Greetings! This article is by Rosie Balia, a proud mother of a three-year-old and Vice President of Product Management for Edison AI and platform at GE Healthcare. In the evolving world of technology, she brings her unique perspectives on enduring and thriving as a mother and a senior executive. Today, we delve into the secret powers that can be derived from both motherhood and technological leadership.

1. Patience

Patience is a virtue that becomes second nature when parenting, and it's equally crucial in technological leadership. It's analogous to planting a seed, providing an environment for it to grow, and then stepping back to let the process unfold, repeating this cycle over time. The same applies to complex work tasks—breaking them down into phases, allowing for exploration and development, then progressing to the next phase. Patience also encompasses permitting our teams and children to fail, providing them with a safe space to learn from their mistakes to become better.

2. Being Comfortable with Chaos

Embracing chaos might seem cliché, yet it's an advantageous ability for both parenting and technological leadership. One never knows when a child might upend a well-structured routine or when unexpected global events such as a pandemic or a war might disrupt technological progress. The key is to exercise the muscle of living with chaos daily, making impactful decisions to adapt and thrive in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

3. Communication

Effective communication is central to both parenting and technology. In simple terms, it's about articulating complex concepts so a toddler or a team member can comprehend them. Communication is about more than clarity; it involves compassion, understanding the audience, and conveying ideas in a relatable manner. Additionally, it's about honesty, especially when it's necessary to state that something won't be done due to priority conflicts.

4. Time Management

Time management is crucial for a parent as one needs to allocate time for a whole new person or people into an already busy schedule. It necessitates being intentional and clear about one's priorities at home and work to streamline our lives. It's important to understand where to focus efforts and when to delegate or push back on tasks.

5. Leaning on Your Team

Knowing when to lean on your team can be one of the most impactful skills a parent and a leader can possess. It entails recognizing when certain tasks must be delegated or when it's essential to seek advice from others. This revelation often comes after acknowledging that one can't accomplish everything alone. It uncovers the importance of being part of a symbiotic village, a supportive network that has your back always.


In conclusion, being a mother and a senior executive in technology may be challenging, but it's also a source of immense learning. The five secret superpowers that I've mentioned—patience, comfort in chaos, communication, time management, and teamwork—can redefine the way you approach your work and personal life. It all boils down to embracing what life throws at you, learning from it, and evolving with time.

Thank you for taking time out to read this piece. Your feedback is always welcome.


Video Transcription

Hi, thank you for taking the time to join me today. My name is uh Rosie Balia. Um And I'm the mother of her, of her three year old and I'm VP um of product management for Edison A I and platform at G healthcare.I'm going to talk a little bit today um to you about, you know, the secret power of being a mother as well as the senior executive in technology. Um And really, you know, the, the secret sauce that you can bring into your work. Um the, the things that you learn from both your kids as well as um the things that you learn in sort of raising your kids. Um I'm gonna talk about five secret powers of being a mother um as well as being in technology. Um The first one is patience. Um You know, nothing teaches you more about patients than planting a seed, creating that conducive environment um for that seed to thrive in and then really taking a step back and allowing it to grow and react and then repeating the cycle. Um Have you, you know, as, as most most people who have, have kids have have probably seen it. Have you ever tried teaching, you know, something really complex um to a toddler, something like maybe teaching your three year old to start writing. Um It really takes time to build up from scribbles to abstract art alphabets. Um But one of the things that we can do is really be patient about it, not just with our, our kids, but also with ourselves.

So really being able to break down a task into little phases, allowing each each phase to develop, allowing kids the time to sort of explore. Um and really hone their skills and really solidifying that skill and that phase before moving on to the next. Um And as you sort of engage in that endeavor, um you'll find, you know, kids grow in confidence, um kids get really sort of interactive um and you really get to see the progress. Um I, I always say it's, it's step by step ferociously. Um And, and the same thing applies as I've learned um with, with my toddler. Um The same thing applies in work um having the ability to take some really complex tasks and really complex systems and really show how you can have continuous forward a really, really long way um in, in, in delivering very tangible success in making our teams really able to progress to that next level.

Um So the biggest, the biggest, if not the most important secret power in the first one of my list is really learning to be patient. Um Both with your, with your projects and your kids um as well as with yourself. Um Another thing about patients is actually allowing ourselves our projects and our Children, the ability to fail and to fail safely. Um I think, I think most parents and most kids would agree that nothing gets them more engaged than trying it themselves. Right. Than, than having the ability to sort of go out and explore, fail a few times, not catastrophically, but fail to be able to get up and learn from it. Um And then get better. Um The same thing I found is increasingly true with our teams. So when we give our teams the psychological space to actually try out different things, to create a safe environment where they can fail, let them make decisions, especially the, the ones that are two way doors, the ones that you can sort of recover from, give them the authority the abilities to sort of take those steps.

It's ok if they fail, it's ok. If they fail, you might delay things a little bit, but the amount of goodwill you will get from it, the confidence that the team will get from it and the sense of empowerment um can really go a long way. So really having that patience, not just to phase things out, but also the patience to allow our teams to grow um and allow them to fail. And in the process get better and, um and get stronger is really something um that moms and parents um can bring from their, from their child rearing um experiences um into work. The second, um the second superpower that I'd really like to talk about is having the ability of being comfortable with chaos. Um I know it sounds, you know, I know, it sounds like a cliche. I know people say it all the time. Um And honestly, you know, I've been to countless sort of management courses, internal courses to sort of learn what it's like to live in a complex world and, you know, deal with that chaos, but nothing prepared me for the kind of chaos that you have with a toddler. Right? Not nothing prepares you for the midnight, you know, the midnight surprise illnesses, the the random visits to the doctor, the visits to the games, the trips, the falls. Um, you name it, right.

You, you, you think of something, you think everything is going to plan and then a, a kid will come along and, and very innocently sort of upend everything. Um I call my little toddler very lovingly. The chaos monkey. Um I'm allowed to do that. Um I work, I work in software and I work in tech and so we do a lot of chaos monkey testing. Um But I, I have my own little chaos monkey at home. Um, so frustrating as I found it to deal with. That, you know, I, I went from an orderly well structured life where I knew exactly what I was doing is I knew exactly where I was going. I, to this crazy world where, you know, I had everything planned out, but invariably my little chaos monkey would come around and sort of make a mess out of things. Um, but then I realized I, I began to embrace it. I even enjoyed it. Um, You know, it, it became a challenge and, and an exciting one to be able to manage, not just, you know, five different balls, but occasionally have another one swung in at you and be able to, to kind of catch it. Um And I think what it taught me was to have sort of multiple backups, multiple fallback options to sort of try and guess what my chaos monkey was gonna do next.

Um and have in my little back pocket, you know, ideas for how I was going to deal with it. Um And really that training that, that strength and the ability to see a path to the, to the chaos to be able to come up with the most productive next step. Given what I know, right, given what I knew of, of my little chaos at that moment, um is really invaluable. Um And so, you know, the, the w the, the, the acronym vu A has a whole new meaning once you've sort of been in that sort of chaotic situation where, you know, the volatile, the unknown, the complex, the ambiguous. Um it's something that you deal with almost every day and being able to sort of translate that strength, that training if you will, that you get on the job um of, of, of being with kids, um really goes a long way when you, when you bring it into the work environment because, you know, even though it's more tangible and more real, when you have your own little chaos, monkey or monkeys actually extending that to work.

Uh You know, nobody expected a pandemic to happen. Nobody expected to last this long. Nobody imagined it would lead to such great supply chain and resource challenges. Nobody expected to be further complicated with the war, so on and so forth. Um And yet here we are, you know, and here ge is uh the company I work with where we've made such big technical advances. Um I, I'd, I'd even argue that, that we've embraced sort of that vu a world and been able to sort of accelerate technology, you know, embrace hybrid work and remote access, embrace cloud computing, digital technology, so on and so forth. Um But really the ability, the, the bit I want to stress the secret power I want to stress is the muscle you exercise in living with that chaos and gaining the ability to make those impactful decisions to really adapt and thrive in a var environment. Um Is is invaluable. So at the end of the day, being able to be really comfortable with chaos, um not wishing the chaos away, but just being able to live with it um is really important in today's high tech world um to remain clearheaded, make contingency plans, uh be creative in determining what the next best step is and, and you know, hanging that path forward through the chaos for your teams um that can really, really go a long way um in, in cutting through um through so many of the things um that you see both both at home and um and in the crazy world we are in today.

Um the third uh superpower I want to talk about. Um and it's, it's an often overlooked one is really communication. Um And again, you know, this is not, I, I suppose it's not rocket science, right? Like we, we all know communication is important, but communication takes a whole new meaning when you try to communicate with a brand new human being, right? When you, when you try to explain complex and seemingly, maybe not complex but seemingly simple concepts to somebody who's so new to the game. Um But really being able to communicate clearly and without ambiguity is essential to being a parent, right? It's, or, or a caregiver or a caretaker, it's central to sort of it, it's almost central becomes central to your existence. Um You know, I can spend hours and hours and hours today talking about how many times I ended up um in in some very precarious situations simply because, you know what I thought was crystal clear um was obviously not right to, to the kids that I was, that I was trying to communicate this to.

Um And actually the same is true with complex technology um especially in today's world where technology is so advanced and we spend so much time in environments where there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of pretty complex systems, um just being able to communicate clearly what your system is doing and how it's going to interact with all these other systems.

Um And then having everybody else do that can go a long way. Um Some of the biggest program delays that have unfortunately, you know, had the misfortune and, and maybe even a hand in being a part of um have not been because of, of grave technical risk. The, the biggest program deal is have been because of lack of communication. They've, they've simply been because different parts of the, the extended team had, they understood something, but they actually hadn't. Right. And, and it just led to almost an implosion of some of the programs, um which luckily we were, we were able to recover from, but, but it's really how clearly and unambiguously can you communicate concepts. Um Another aspect of communication apart from sort of making it clear and unambiguous is, can you communicate empathetically. And what I mean by that is especially as you're looking at cross functional. Um Many, many cross functional uh audiences, can you communicate your ideas and can you communicate your concepts in a way that your target audience is able to relate to? You know, it, it might seem crystal clear to you. It might seem very simple to you. But have you taken the effort to try and really understand where your audience is coming from and then link it to experiences that the audience can relate to. Um you know, for example, have you ever tried?

Uh I'm sure many of you have, but have you for, for me, it was a revelation, right? How, how difficult can it be to teach, to teach the simple concept of addition to a three year old? Um It took me many, many, many days to realize that all I needed was a few lollipops and, you know, and, and suddenly everything was sort of falling in place. Um But I mean, joking aside, you know, lollipops don't always solve everybody's problems, but being really being able to empathize with the audience um to ensure everybody is relating to the ideas that you are, you are communicating can go a long way, not only will it make sort of your value propositions?

And not only did it make my value propositions resonate, but it also converted some naysayers into cheerleaders simply because they were able to grasp from their day to day life. Um the problems and the solutions that, that, that we were proposing. Um I'm gonna try and end with just two more um superpowers. The fourth one that I want to talk about um is about time management. Um You know, now that I have kids, my life is, you know, filled with so much free time, right? Said, said no parent or, or caregiver ever. Uh I mean, after all, at the end of the day, you, you gotta make time for a whole new person, uh, or people into your schedule. Um, and I heard that eventually they become independent, but at least in the beginning they are pretty dependent on you, they are dependent on you for being present for being engaged, um, and being there for a large chunk of time, um, and being tolerant and, um, you know, really working with them.

Um Now having said all of that, you know, I, again, I hearken back to my, my child free days as I call them. But, you know, I felt like I didn't have time but actually in comparison now I had endless time. You, you know, I, I don't know what I did with all that time I had before, uh, before having kids. Um, the, the plus of it, um, as a parent you find is that it makes you more efficient because I think most of us will agree. We're very motivated to go back home and spend quality time, um, with, with the kids. Um So in, in some sense, you know, managing time at home and again, stressing that muscle to sort of fit in what seems like a gazillion things into an hour. Um not only sort of makes you more capable of doing that at work, but it also adds a huge motivation to be more effective at work to use time very parsimoniously. So that every time you save at work, every time you save being more efficient and completing everything in a shorter amount of time is more, more time you can spend with the kids. Um The, the, the thing that I found that worked the best for me. Um Both, both at home.

Um And then by extension at work was being very, very clear on priorities, being very intentional with myself on where and how I can spend my time and where I'm not going to spend my time, but I simply don't have the bandwidth to do it. You know, um Warren Buffett always says, you know, time is the most invaluable finite resource. Um And he uses it with utmost care. Um And he's absolutely right. It's the one thing that you cannot get back once it's gone, it's gone and there's nothing you can do about it. Um But so really, by being very honest on where we need to focus and where we need to sort of put in our efforts, allows us to really streamline our own lives. But then also look at things that you're not able to fit in and figure out how are you gonna cover them? How are you gonna delegate more effectively? How are you going to push back on some things that are maybe not that important? How are you even going to communicate and say, you know what, I'm actually just not going to do it because it is not on my priority list.

And even clearly telling people that you're not gonna do something is, is, is a huge step forward because it allows teams to take that feedback and then find other ways of meeting those needs if, if they are critical for their programs. Um So, you know, at the end of the day, just being honest about priorities, um and being very intentional, um on how we're meeting those priorities both at home and at work, um is, is really, really practical that really brings me to my last superpower. And I know I said patience was most likely, you know, the most important one. But I keep, I keep flip flopping between these because a actually, I think, I think this last one might be the most impactful one and that is really knowing when to lean on your team. So really knowing when you can sort of be vulnerable and when you can turn around and really lean on your team, um And I'm gonna step back just a bit and tell you, you know, the, the, the, the time management aspect of it was really what sort of awakened me to this last one because there were times when at, at work, just like at home, there were things where I looked at all the things that needed to be done and they all seemed immensely important and I knew that I could do only maybe 70% you know, if I tried as hard as I could.

But what it allowed me to do then was look at the 30 really 30% that was really important. Look around me and say, well, who's my team that can help me with these, who can I safely delegate this to and who can I partner with so that we're mutually successful and that, you know, that that's not just at work, that's also at home and increasingly at home, I subscribe very strongly to the phrase that it really takes a village to raise a child.

Um And as a modern day parent, the, the great bit is that you get to choose the cornerstones of your own personal village. Um You know, I was, I, I was and I continue to be enormously fortunate, um both in my, my professional life, but especially in my personal life, we're having a stellar team. Uh you know, be it, be it my, my rock star for husband who sort of had my back the first year that we had my toddler, I was, I had a new sort of expanded role. I was traveling 50% of the time and here was somebody who was willing to step up and, and frankly, you know, take the sack. Um And I found the same and I continue to be amazed by the amazing colleagues I have at work who anytime somebody drops the ball because life happens. Um I have an amazing team that will always stand up and sort of say, hey, you know what this time, I can work extra time this time, I can, I can step in and I can help because because there is the the shared trust and shared understanding that, you know, when, when they are under the bus, when they are sort of embroiled in, in maybe some personal complications or something at work that somebody else is gonna step up and do the same for them.

So the biggest realization for me was, you know, being vulnerable and having that team can be really, really powerful, being able to call on someone for help for advice, simply to bounce off ideas off of even just to complain, even just to complain about work, right? Just having that sort of spouse, sibling friend coworker to be there and know that they'll be there for you uh and know that you'll be there for them can be huge. So I think my last last piece of advice, um modest advice for for, for everyone is to sort of say, ma make sure you have, you build and you nurture and be a part of that really symbiotic village, um that village that will back you up when you're trying to raise a child or you know, your next new project.

Um And amen and thank you for all the support. So that's all for me. Um That's what I wanted to tell you a little bit about, sort of the really not so secret um superpowers of being um a mom and um and a and a senior executive in tech. Um Hopefully it was um it, it, it was, it was an interesting uh chat and hopefully it resonated with a whole bunch of you. I'd love to hear from you either on linkedin or the chat here uh to learn more about what you think. Uh But thank you so much for taking the time um to spend a little bit of your afternoon or evening or morning, depending on where you are with me. I appreciate it. Thanks very much.