The big news in the technology press today was that Yahoo’s new CEO is a six-month pregnant executive from Google. Marissa Mayer was vice president in charge of local and location services at Google. She was there for 13 years (the 20th employee) and was very involved in Google Maps, Google Earth and Zagat. Mayer was reportedly instrumental in the 2011 purchase of the world famous restaurant guide/review bible. I read someplace that she was the former girlfriend of Google founder Larry Page (meow). Her husband is Zachary Bogue, a lawyer and a significant investor in big time start-ups (good move). She started at Yahoo a few days ago.
As much as I am a feminist, I was very surprised that Yahoo would hire someone who is going to be slightly pre-occupied with an overwhelming change in her life in the Fall. I should be the last woman on earth thinking this, because I went back to work three weeks after my daughter was born. The truth is I had a C-Section on a Sunday at 4pm, and by Monday morning I was already on the telephone barking orders to HWH employees.
This was all pre-Internet.
Today in the world of virtual workspaces, Mayer should have it much easier because she doesn’t have to physically be anywhere to lead Yahoo once again into greatness. Sources tell me she is very smart, practical, serious about her work and most of all, knows how to make things happen. Those are the ingredients of a woman who can have it all. It is also going to depend on Mr. Bogue. Mayer cannot be filled with guilt when she has to work, which could be the greater part of her day. It doesn’t matter how many you have in help. If your husband or partner is not willing take a full share (plus, plus) of parenting, then a woman is constantly confronted with the question of whether she is doing the right thing. If you have a husband or partner who makes you feel that your child is getting the best care, then a woman has a free head to focus on her work. I was very lucky. My husband was my business partner yet was extremely involved with our daughter and loved being a kid again with her.
I was very involved in raising my daughter, but I was really in charge of security and health. Don’t laugh! I spent most of my free time making sure she was safe, healthy and secure. My husband was one of her friends. Sometimes they talked for hours about fantasy stuff like Dawson’s Creek. It used to drive me crazy listening to them in the car. I was relegated to the back seat with the dogs on our three hour trips to the Hamptons. In those days, I would think to myself, “Who are they talking about? Who are Dawson, Pacey, Jen and Joey?” I was also very lucky when I hired the best nanny in the world. It was just a matter of luck. She took better care of our baby then what we were disciplined to do. Most of the time, our daughter looked like she came out of a gift-wrapped box. The truth is that we became a blended family. Our nanny’s children spent weekends and holidays with us. Today we are still all close.
Now I want to tell you the real reason why I wrote this post. If there was a backlash about Marissa Mayer getting the position because she is having a baby in early October, I would have gone on a rampage on her behalf. For most of my career I have witnessed so many male executives who were not focused solely on their work, but abused their positions to better their personal lives. I am not going to get into specifics, but I could write a book about how many hours I spent with male clients talking and consulting about their girlfriends, their extra martial affairs, the gifts they needed to buy, their golf game, how drunk they got last night, their boats, fast cars, the trips they were taking,how I was going to make them famous for their career sake, and could I introduce them to…………whatever the next job choice was at the moment.
You might ask me why I didn’t extricate myself from these encounters or one-on-one discussions that was neither my business or responsibility. The only answer is that in the early days of my career, pre-internet, you spent more personal time with people and this was a bonding experience I didn’t shy away from. As long as we were getting work done, and there were solid results from my agency each month for each client, I lent an ear on personal topics, Today , I have little tolerance for this. Then again, I’ve heard it all.
I feel I have every right to conclude that Yahoo made one of the most strategic and forward-thinking marketing moves ever. They have now set the standards for other companies as well. Women all over the world have gained a new respect for a company that deserves every bit of it because of what they have accomplished in the past, and what they will gain in the future.