The Power of an EMBRACE

Bryan Michael

Bryan Michael

Sr. Program Manager at EMC Cloud Solutions

There are people at EMC who spend all year waiting for a Saturday in June to celebrate who they are.  Some care about this day as much as anything else in the world. This day is all about LGBT Pride. It celebrates who we are and where we’re from – without titles, barriers or fear.  For the EMC employees who take part, it is a time to share unconditional love, acceptance and support on a day that has become timeless.

This year our theme for Pride was EMBRAC2E, incorporating the EMC name into a personal connection. For me, this theme captures EMC’s ability to provide employees with a virtual EMBRAC2E that enables us to soar to new heights.  This combination of support and encouragement is one of the many reasons why EMC is a Top 25 global Great Place to Work – a powerhouse with great possibilities and great people.

2Being a top sponsor of Boston Pride for three years in a row gives EMC a competitive edge when it comes to diversity and inclusion.  Our involvement shows our ever growing dedication to becoming an even more progressive company and highlights the benefits and culture that help to draw top level talent to join the EMC family.

This year, over 160 EMC employees marched in our Boston Pride delegation and engaged with over 10,000 people on the parade route.  As we shook hands, handed out EMBRAC2E buttons, or just said ‘thank you for your support,’ we represented the many faces of EMC to future employees, customers and partners.

Celebrating Pride draws those who love the camaraderie of people, the action and the energy.  To us, this day feels like home. On this day, we EMBRAC2E our differences for a common goal. On this day, we ALL win.

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Finding Flexibility & Balance in a Working Environment

Krista Palombo

Krista Palombo

Director, DPAD HR at EMC

As a working mom of two daughters, ages 12 and 7, I’ve spent considerable time, like most parents, pondering how to get it all done. Early on in my “working mother” journey I can remember being eager for any advice or guidance. I recall attending a working mother seminar presented by a consulting firm and being excited about how I could learn to manage it all. Unfortunately the seminar didn’t offer practical daily solutions on how to find balance.

I remember one of the speakers was an executive at an investment firm – certainly her earning power was different than mine, her advice was outsource everything, hire a nanny, get someone to cook meals, have a cleaning person. I left that seminar feeling so defeated. I couldn’t afford that kind of “support system”.  It just wasn’t practical.

This is when I realized I had to take responsibility for my own work life balance and be transparent about communicating those needs back to key stakeholders.  I’ve been fortunate over my fifteen years at EMC to have amazing managers and colleagues that have been able to identify with the same set of issues. Due to our common bond we’ve supported each other and this has resulted in creating a work environment that has allowed for flexibility and balance.

Now that I have a few more working mother years under my belt I’ve had some experience in figuring out what works for my family.  Remember it’s not one size fits all, each family has their own balance.

Palombo, K

I’d like to share my own version of a Top 10 List for being a working mom or dad….

  1. Create a mantra that guides you (aka a catch phrase) – I once heard someone say at a working mother’s conference, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything”, I like the quote but I’d like to expand upon it – “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything at the same time”. As a society we love to multi-task but that can backfire. I remind myself of my mantra when I start to get that drowning feeling, it reminds me of what I can handle. Pick and choose what’s reasonable under the circumstances. So I can’t volunteer for the PTO this year but there will be other times in the future that I may be able to take on the commitment. Then just, “Let It Go”, more on that later…

 

  1. Support other working moms (and dads) – we are our own best network. How many times have you come to work exhausted because you were up all night with a sick kid but you just had to come in and meet that dead line. Isn’t it great when you have a shoulder to lean on? That other person “who gets it”. It’s so important to be able to lift each other up in our time of need. I’ve even found the small things to be helpful, trading crockpot recipes has been one way a colleague has helped me.

 

  1. Don’t try to live up to other peoples standards – it’s important to remember we all have choices and it’s what we do with those choices that sets us off on our own personal journey. Just because one person decided to work part-time or stay home doesn’t mean your choice to work fulltime is a bad one. Or maybe you decide not to take on a new role because there’s too much travel. Again, make choices that are appropriate for your situation in the current circumstances. I’m a firm believer that timing is everything.

 

  1. Social Media warning – this goes along with #3 – Facebook is fun but can also be a brutal trap. I put on my “Facebook filter” especially around the holiday season. I have a Facebook “friend” who loves to share all the holiday baking, decorating and fun activities their Elf on the Shelf does over the holiday season. Back to my point about choices, I know that my “friend” has made different choices than I have and has built her schedule to allow her to do the things that she enjoys. Therefore I am able to filter her posts and don’t let myself feel inadequate about them. It’s worth noting I’m lucky if I remember to move the darn Elf on the Shelf before my daughter wakes up in the morning.

 

  1. Plan ahead – since you now know “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything at the same time”, plan ahead. For me I spend my weekend creating a plan of attack for the week ahead (while I’m still recovering from the week that just ended!).  I look at our family’s schedule for the week, what nights do we have soccer practice, religious education etc… and then come up with a plan for what nights I need to have dinner ready. I try to cook a bunch of meals on Sunday so I can reheat dinner throughout the week and have a couple nights that I pick up take out. I also have a plan of attack on laundry – let me just say, I hate laundry. It never goes away!  So I try to divide and conquer, I will pick a night and do one child’s laundry that night so I can get it all done and then move on to the other child’s the next night. Now if only that Elf on the Shelf could do laundry!

 

  1. Be there for your kids/family – It’s important to be able to go to your child’s special events or get there when the school nurse calls because she’s sick. But I also know the inner-conflict we face by leaving. However I’ve also sacrificed and not gone to the school function because I HAVE to be at this very important meeting only to have it get cancelled or rescheduled on me. I’m not saying to not attend important meetings or meet your work commitments but if you plan ahead and prioritize as much as possible you can make those special events. Then for those unplanned sick kid days it’s important to have strong communication with your manager to determine how you can work around it. Maybe you can work from home, dial into a meeting or reschedule it. I’ve found with open and honest communication everyone I work with at EMC is very flexible and understanding.

 

  1. Me time – I have a simple picture hanging in my office that says, “Home, Work, A Night out, A well balanced life”, like my mantra it’s a simple phrase to remind me of the importance of maintaining balance for my health and well-being. Several years ago I had a major health crisis and my daughters were 1 and 6 years old at the time. After the year-long battle was over I made some choices to live my life to the fullest. Growing up I rode horses and consider it a passion. After putting it aside for nearly 20 years I decided to return to it. This has led me to buying a horse and pursuing my passion for riding (yes, owning a horse is essentially like having another child… I think that could be the name of a country song). As it turns out my oldest daughter also has a passion for horses and this is something we enjoy together. It’s important for you to find something that brings personal joy and happiness that nurtures your soul.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Again, we can’t do everything at the same time. I’m blessed to have a loving and supportive family that lives nearby. They are willing and able to help out when I get in a bind. While I prefer to do things “my way” I also realize its ok to ask others to help out. It shows strength to ask for help. Now that my kids are getting older they are learning to help out too- the older one is now starting to move the Elf on the Shelf each night.

 

  1. Let It Go – Just like the hit song from the movie, “Frozen”. We all know what it’s like when we start the day with the best of intentions, we had a plan when we left the house that morning and nothing went the way we expected. I remember when my daughters had an EPIC case of head lice – I don’t wish this on anyone. I will admit I was a raving lunatic, to quote one of my daughter’s, “Mommy you’re scaring me”, okay not my finest moment. But the good news is we got through it. During that exhausting ordeal a lot of things weren’t getting done, there were no home cooked meals it was purely laundry and hair combing. My manager at the time was amazing, she helped me manage my work schedule so I could be home and get through this mini crises. It was during that time that I realized I have to live in the moment and deal with the problem at hand and everything else can just wait.

 

  1. Enjoy each phase of the journey – in the end we are all just trying to be good moms and dads, colleagues, employees, spouses, friends etc… it all goes by so fast. So when you are in the middle of some overwhelming moment take a deep breath, a brief walk to clear your head and remember that this too shall pass. Before you know it some new thing will take its place and you will work through that too… I look back now at my daughters going to bed on their own (as they should at this age) but there was a time when I will admit we drove around town to get our baby girl to go to sleep, note my parents thought we were nuts but we did it anyway. I look back on that time and can’t believe it was 11 years ago. Now I’m entering the phase of pre-teen drama and Instagram which makes me miss driving around town at 10pm to put my baby to sleep.

 

I hope you found this helpful, insightful and maybe a little funny.  Being a working mom and dad isn’t an easy journey so give yourself credit for all that you do day in and day out. Find happiness in the little stuff and always remember to laugh!

Work/Life Balance Is Attainable

Bryan Shogren

Bryan Shogren

Senior Service Account Manager, VCS_Care at VCE

Folks in IT Support needs a special type of DNA to always be “on” when customers need support the most.  A customer’s worst moment with an IT event is our best moment to shine.  But these times are never planned.

I have worked in other IT Support organizations where the requirement for employees to always “be on” was literal.  I regret to say that for too long I allowed one former employer to interrupt my plans with family or even prevent me from something as simple as attending a church service for one hour on a Sunday morning.

My area of the company, VCE, is in a hyper-growth mode and the demands for effort, time and results are high in order to keep our existing customers satisfied and to ensure new customers that acquire our Converged Infrastructure solutions receive the same industry- leading experience.

However, here is the difference from my perspective:  As we grew, VCE implemented a follow the sun shift model schedule for on-call weekend support.  The result is during my scheduled week for on-call, I need to be ready to serve for a defined shift and can rest comfortably knowing I have colleagues in other geographic regions who can help me transition an escalation.  In the United States, VCE offers a take-a-break week during the July 4th holiday each year.  It is a time where one can truly enjoy some family summer fun realizing the company wants you to relax and recharge.  Finally, my local teammates are like a tightly woven quilt.  If I need to get to my son’s soccer practice, I have multiple colleagues offering to cover, even with short notice.

This type of culture manifests higher performance and productivity.  The highest performing sports teams achieve their pinnacles of success with taking timeouts to refocus, having suitable substitutes ready and stressing the mantra of “team first”.  This narrative fits all things in life.  Everyone needs balance for health and happiness and I am proud to say VCE does not compromise this simple need in the workplace.

Great Benefits, Great People, Great Place to Work

Danita Sutton

Danita Sutton

Sr. Business Operations Analyst, Global Business Services at EMC

Way back in 2006 I submitted my story to The EMC Working Mother Experience project.   I was so impressed that EMC was going to publish a book that helped mothers across the company share their stories about finding balance as professionals and mothers in ways that worked for them.

The end product was amazing.  On page after page I read about all of these heroes who were doing everything they could to be great mothers and great employees.  I cried and laughed. When I closed the book, one thing I knew for sure is that I worked with a bunch of amazing women at an amazing company that supports work life balance and encourages us to take advantage of it.

I know there are different opinions about what makes a company a Great Place to Work, but I can only share with you how EMC has impacted my life.   My 10+ year journey with the company has been shaped by taking control of my career and taking advantage of the wonderful benefits.

A few years ago I was not satisfied with how my career was going and I started to think about how I could reinvent myself.  One day my husband (who worked at EMC) messaged me and said, “It’s time for you to go back to school.”  I stared at my computer thinking how could I squeeze Master’s courses into my already hectic schedule with the kids and their sports, life, work….I got dizzy just thinking about it all.  But reluctantly I shared my screen with him and the next thing I knew I was signed up at Brandeis University.  Never did I think I would go back to school, but with my family supporting me and EMC funding it how could I resist such an incredible opportunity?

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Three years later on May 18, 2014, in front of my friends, my husband, and our two children, I received my Masters of Science in Information Technology Management from Brandeis.  I felt overwhelmed with joy and appreciation. When I looked over at my children and saw the big smiles on their faces, it was priceless to know how proud they were of me.

I thank EMC not only for this opportunity but for believing in me and helping me further my education through their tuition reimbursement program.

Festival of Colors

Shruti Gupta

Shruti Gupta

Senior Software Engineer, VMAX Enginuity Platform at EMC

EMC Southborough Café transformed into a colorful arena as many EMCers gathered to celebrate the “Holi.” This Indian “Festival of Colors” event marks the advent of spring and fosters a message of unity and friendship. Participants chase and color each other with dry color powder (Gulal), relish delicacies and collectively bid farewell to winter and welcome spring.

FOC 3

In the spirit of never settling and coming up with novel ways to engage EMCers, the ISEC (Indian Subcontinent Employee Circle) took Holi to a whole new dimension. By organizing this event within EMC, ISEC provided EMCers an excellent platform to meet each other, share interesting stories and celebrate diversity. ISEC also equipped event participants with colors and tasty Indian snacks. Fellow EMCers and members from various diversity circles came together for an evening full of spirited conversations, playful vibes and of course colorful ecstatic faces.

FOC 4

Vic Bhagat & Krishnakumar Narayanan graced the event by joining the festivities. Their presence was a big encouragement to entire ISEC team. We look forward to continue promoting diversity and excellence within EMC and beyond!

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Festival of Colors 1

April is Autism Awareness Month.

David Ford

David Ford

EMC Disability Employee Resource Group (DERG)

April is Autism Awareness Month. As a parent with a 12-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum, I take great pride in knowing that for the third year in a row, EMC employees are taking part in the Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign to support global autism awareness.

Kaitlyn - Dave Ford

As a co-founder of EMC’s Disability Employee Resource Group, seeing our buildings lighted up in blue exemplifies EMC as a great place to work! As we promote autism awareness, the facts below remind us all of the challenges facing this diagnosis:

• Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys
• Autism prevalence figures are growing
• Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the U.S.
• Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
• Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
• There is no medical detection or cure for autism

In support of those affected in the U.S., EMC provides additional autism coverage for Intensive Behavioral Therapies. These supplemental autism benefits are provided to dependents of EMC employees enrolled in an EMC medical plan as part of the Behavioral Health benefit plan. There are no age limitations or annual lifetime maximum benefit limits.

Also in the U.S., EMC’s monthly Autism Support Group enables colleagues to share their experiences with one another sharing strategies, resources and insights from those who know firsthand the tribulations of an autism diagnosis.

On my first day at EMC almost ten years ago, August 1st 2005, I learned my daughter would take us on an autism journey after she was diagnosed with a form of autism called PDD-NOS. As I write this on April 2nd 2015, I am most thankful for the support and benefits listed above as they made a profound difference in our daughter’s life. She is now in middle school, in a regular class and shares an aide with other kids. She goes to a special class for reading and got A’s and B’s in her first semester.

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As I reflect on this day and Autism Awareness Month I know how fortunate we are, but I hope someday autism day and month will be a distant memory. Until then let us light it up blue and show support for those confronting autism. Thank you!

Being a Working Mother at EMC

Aparna Khatri

Aparna Khatri

Director, Engineering, Vbu Qe at EMC

I work at the EMC Bangalore office and my role requires me to connect with my colleagues and seniors in North America on a daily basis. This means being in meetings for several hours during my evenings.
As a mother of two teenage boys, this schedule meant missing time I would normally spend with them bonding, and helping sort out teenage issues. However, EMC’s flexible work culture allows me to deal with this situation, so I can be effective at work and home.

family pic Aparna

I now split my workday into two parts, getting into work early and leaving at around 2:30 PM. Then I spend some time with my children after they get back from school until about 6:00 PM, after which I start my second part of the workday with colleagues in North America. The time spent in between with family, discussing totally different topics such as school, hobbies, neighborhood matters, and current affairs actually acts as a great de-stresser and gets me ready for the second part of my workday all energized.

EMC provides me with tools that enable working from home, flexibility in work timing and exciting and challenging work that encourages me to be creative about balancing work and life.

A lot of my female friends feel guilty about working when their kids ask them why they have to go to work, when their friends’ moms do not! My kids have always wondered why their friends’ moms don’t go to work, when I do. They have grown up watching me do this balancing act, and hopefully they and the next generation will consider a working mother just as natural as a working father.

Being A Working Parent – Wonderful, Chaotic, Special

Stella Low

Stella Low

Vice President, Global Communications at EMC

I will never forget the first time I looked into my daughter’s eyes. It must have been seconds after she was born. She seemed to be staring deep into my soul and me into hers… our eyes were locked. It was like meeting her for the first time and looking into the eyes of someone I’d known forever. The love and joy I felt in that moment was overwhelming, like laughter and tears all at the same time.

Was this what being a parent was about? I was in my late thirties and had met my husband five years before. I was always a career girl and I’d not given much thought to having a family. It was something other people did. Something I would probably not get around to… I loved my job, I was focused on results and driven by success. Surely, one person couldn’t have a family and a career?

Having children does change you, there’s no doubt about it. Suddenly my life went from relative order to chaos, becoming more complicated and even busier than ever before. Crazy busy.

It’s easy to say it’s easy. Just get organized, juggle, just plan ahead. And you do. But managing a responsible job with many round the clock demands and a giving a child the time and love they need, as well as ensuring the household runs smoothly is a challenge for many of us.

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I have two ways of managing… the first I am lucky to have, and that’s a stay-at-home husband who takes away most of the pressure of running the household. My second coping mechanism is something I learned from other great women around me and that is that you don’t have to be superwoman. It’s important to acknowledge that there will be many days when you’re not perfect. And that’s ok.

It’s also ok to take a break (rest is important), give yourself a pat on the back occasionally and most importantly forgive yourself.

My daughter is now almost eight years old, and in the last two years I uprooted her from all she knows in the UK to come to live in the USA so I could work from Hopkinton. And she has moved school twice in that time which has been tough on her. I make time to ensure we eat together around the table every day and I put her to bed each evening. We have a very close relationship and talk about everything, and I know that through this crazy life, she is building resilience, independence and a wisdom all of her own. And I love her for it.

She in turn has taught me much. I’m equally as passionate about my work but I’m more patient, I try to listen more and I too have built more resilience. For me personally, being a working mother makes me a better mother working.

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EMC Gives Back: My Experience Teaching the Hour of Code

Charis Loveland

Charis Loveland

Volunteering in my community is an important part of my life. I’m so grateful to EMC for providing three volunteer days off so that I can spend time in my community working on meaningful projects.

In 2013, I sought to share my love of technology with local children and discovered the Hour of Code. That year, I went to my daughter’s Boston preschool class and taught children as young as two years old basic programming logic via an iPad game called My Robot Friend. We had a blast freeze dancing and coding! I highly recommend adding in some freeze dance break time, especially when teaching coding to kids under 6.

hour of code 2013

If your child enjoys this type of game, then check out the coding board game Robot Turtles, which is based on a similar concept.

In 2014, I wanted to try something different. Then I stumbled upon this USA Today article mentioning a new coding game using the characters from the ubiquitous Disney film Frozen. The code is an easy, intuitive drag-and-drop user interface called Blockly. It’s similar to the MIT-developed Scratch GUI. I figured that my daughter’s kindergarten class would love anything related to Frozen, and the fact that I could introduce them to coding at the same time was a welcome bonus. I emailed my daughter’s Presidential award-winning Boston Public School science teacher to see if I could come into her class to share the game. I ended up teaching not just the kindergarten class, but most of the elementary school.

frozen game

[photo from USA Today : from http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/11ee5d0546d1a325c6f0ddceada811049347fc2f/c=0-46-1298-1022&r=x404&c=534×401/local/-/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2014/11/19/635519624793674485-Screen-Shot-2014-11-19-at-2.52.00-AM.jpg]

The kindergarten class had so much fun learning to code! We began with a quick demo on the SmartBoard.

hour of code 2015 group

Then, we let the students try the game individually on their iPads. They mastered several levels in a matter of minutes, and ended the session with a freeze dance game to “Let It Go.”

hour of code 2015 dance

It’s not too late to bring the Hour of Code to your local school! Check it out online at Hour of Code.

I’ve really enjoyed hearing from the students and their parents on how much they enjoyed the programming. At the last parent council meeting, a mom thanked me profusely for introducing her daughter to the program, and mentioned that she loves coming home to create complex snowflakes in code.

hour of code 2015

hour of code 2015 ipad

There are few things in life as satisfying as sharing your passion for technology with a new generation of learners. I’d love to hear about your stories in the comments.

EMC and Inner Balance

Madhu Manjunath

Madhu Manjunath

Balancing my role as an Engineering Director for RSA Security Analytics along with my role as a mother of a 21 year old daughter and being able to exceed expectations in both areas is very delicate and time–consuming. Yet I wouldn’t give it up either!

As I enter my twentieth year as a working mother and my ninth year at EMC’s India Center of Excellence, it is really interesting to think about how different life would have been for my family and me if they hadn’t experienced life with me working in a company as challenging as EMC. When I do reflect on that, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

When I joined EMC way back in June 2006, I was trying to juggle multiple priorities – a.) Family – husband, in-laws, parents and my 13 year old daughter, b.) Education – I was midway through a Masters in Business Management, c.) New job at EMC – trying to ramp-up on storage and Information Lifecycle management domain and d.) My immediate deliverables at work – that included building a Performance, Scalability and Reliability Test Lab!

I would like to applaud the fun-filled and flexible work environment offered by EMC, coupled with a seasoned Management and Executive leadership team who supported and encouraged me all the time to pursue my goals and achieve great heights in my career.

At EMC, I have always got to be myself and have had the freedom to experiment and drive my global teams the most creative and efficient way possible.

Additionally, I felt empowered and travelled all the way from India to Hopkinton to meet with the Women’s Leadership Forum President in 2009. As a result, I was able to launch the EMC India Chapter in 2010. My local Leadership Team has been a great sponsor and support for all of the Diversity and Inclusion activities.

My EMC career has been extremely challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. My portfolio has expanded every year.

I lead and motivate my global teams as well as collaborate extensively with my cross-geo and cross-functional stakeholders to collectively drive high quality work and improved customer experience. Although distance and traffic are not my best allies, no matter how tired I am or how complicated my day ends up being, I try to arrive home as early as possible so I can catchup with my family

Some of my moments of pride at EMC India:

  • Being recognized as the first female Engineering Director at EMC India,
  • First President of WLF at EMC India,
  • First female Manager to lead and remotely manage a team of 70 Israelis based in Herzliya, Israel from India,
  • First female to win the EMC Innovation Conference in 2009!

Yes, the life and environment at EMC has been extremely energetic, challenging, innovative, empowering, inclusive, rewarding and dynamic!

And it still feels as though I joined EMC yesterday!