I started working for SAS more than 8 years ago. At the time I knew it was a great place to work. Everyone in the Triangle area knows that, but I wanted to work here to combine my skills with a passion. I went to North Carolina State University to study computer engineering, and while being nerdy was an obvious byproduct of said degree, I wanted to use my skill set for something more than fabricating microchips or testing iPhones (ok I lie, that would be kind of awesome). I wanted to work specifically for education--not just a paycheck. I wanted to take my skills as a programmer and help teachers and students in the classroom. I set my sights on a job with SAS Curriculum Pathways, stalked the job listings and eventually landed a student position with the group. To this day I still work with that same group of truly talented people, and I am forever grateful for getting my dream job before I even finished college.
As the years have gone by, I still love helping teachers and students. I am the primary developer in contact with our customers for technical issues. I have attended professional development events to see how our product is used in the classroom. I have even demoed our product to SAS employees. I am now spearheading our social media efforts and often personally blog about how much I love my job. My passion still remains the same, and I am happy to help spread that as much as possible.
But some new passions have crept into my life over these past 8 years. Two little ones to be exact. My sons, Landon and Oliver. And because I am at the best company to work for in the World (And the second best workplace in the US according to FORTUNE's announcement today), I am celebrated, supported and empowered as a working mom. Through pregnancy, where I was able to take lunchtime baby seminars on campus, to on-campus lactation consults whenever I needed them, SAS helped me be a better mom to my boys. I could do my job AND be an active mother to my children without anyone batting an eye. It is the norm here. Taking care of your family and working aren't mutually exclusive. As our VP of HR, Jenn Mann (no relation) said here,
“At SAS, we invest in long-term relationships with our employees because we are committed to our employees’ long-term success. In turn, they are loyal and help the company continue to be successful.”
An environment where you aren't sweating bullets when daycare calls and your child is sick (well most of the time...you might have the flu...get that checked out). A place where you can take your infant on a stroller ride at lunch to give yourself a break and feel like you get to still have an active role in his day. Managers who understand that if you have to leave a little early for a doctor's appointment, you will log in at night to make up your work. A give and take that, as a parent, is worth its weight in gold. Respect, understanding and a true work/life balance. So once again, I am combining my passions, now from work and home.
With the arrival of the boys (and as a woman with plenty to say), I started a personal blog to chronicle their journeys into and on this earth. It was a hobby. A digital scrapbook to relay information to family members so I didn't have to repeat myself. But as I blogged about our issues, celebrations and general day-to-day musings, I found my focus growing beyond that. Blogging to help others was a NEW passion. I found family and friends emailing a link to their friend in need. Strangers emailing me "Thank you. This is just what I needed to hear. I didn't realize it was this hard." I started to think about what helped me gain confidence as a mother. Where did I get the knowledge I have? Well, a lot came from right here at SAS. Classes to help me learn ways to juggle work-life balance. A healthcare center within walking distance of my office so I don't have the added worry of missing more work. A cafeteria where I can grab dinner for my family in a pinch. Some days, I don't know how I would have survived had I NOT worked here. Resource after resource at my disposal, all while I work.
It was then I decided to start giving back what they had given me. I wanted to shout my work/life balance from the rooftops. I wanted every mom coming to work to feel as empowered as I did. I immediately signed up as "nursing buddy" with the healthcare center. I put my name, blog, email and phone number out there for anyone. I wanted to help. I proposed lunches to new or soon-to-be new moms to talk about transitioning to work. I volunteered for panels with the Work/Life group to talk to new parents. I answered questions on the parent listserv. I even started to be a contributing blogger at a site just for working moms.
Along the way, I have met all sorts of moms. I met Sarah while she was pregnant with her first child to talk about coming back to work and what to expect. Now our older boys are best buds at daycare while our infants are in classes across the hall from each other. Sarah and I have collaborated to help new parents even more. Then I met Varsha, who was at home with a 5-week-old baby boy and working through breastfeeding issues and new motherhood. After we exchanged copious amounts of (hopefully helpful) emails, she and her son got into the swing of things, and I saw her shining face last week on her first day back in the nursing room at daycare, which made my heart sing. What I did helped someone. Maybe work is a little easier for her because of what I could offer.
As I meet all these new people, I feel as if I am helping to make SAS a stronger company. With a campus full of thousands of these 1-on-1 connections, our company becomes a community and I believe this mindset helps SAS do more for our customers. My passions have fused to create a web of collaboration and support that wouldn't be possible without the company itself. That's rare. That's beautiful.