Who You Marry Will Be Your Most Important Career Decision

My husband and I took the news of Dave Goldberg’s death differently. For a start, G wasn’t sure who Dave Goldberg was.

“He was the CEO of Survey Monkey. He was married to Sheryl Sandberg” G’s face remained blank. “You know, the woman who wrote ‘Lean In’ she’s the COO of Facebook”. G gave me a look of recognition but I wasn’t convinced he knew who I was talking about. Unless Sheryl Sandberg was a bike rider, an economist, or a LNG specialist she probably wasn’t going to enter his world. If Facebook shutdown tomorrow it would possibly take G a few days to realise. G’s only observation was that this is why we should be having sex every day.

“Because you might die?” I raised an eyebrow

“Exactly” he smiled “you never know when this is going to run out”.

I’d heard Dave Goldberg speak in interviews and tech podcasts but my biggest insight into who he was came from his wife. I read ‘Lean In’ and while I struggled with it’s ideals I realised that Sheryl Goldberg had to have been married to a true feminist.

Eeek I said it.

The word that seems to divide so many. Feminist.

Why is that? Why do I hear so many women apologising as they begin their requests  “it’s not that I’m like a massive feminist or anything, I just think that women should have *insert rationale request here*’

Do you believe in equal rights?

Well then, you’re a feminist. And so was Dave Goldberg.

On Tuesday mornings G takes the children to school. He does this for two reasons. Number one he wants to take the children to school at least once a week. Secondly, Tuesdays are a half day at school which means my work day gets cut in half – getting rid of the school run gives me a little bit of extra time to get things done. In some people’s eyes this makes G legendary, in others it may be seen as minimal.

Finding the balance in my expat career has been very tricky. For any woman who marries a man (I imagine it’s a completely different deal when you’re married to another woman as you can both give birth) but for any woman who marries a man, the balance of pregnancy, birth, maternity leave and returning to the workplace requires negotiation.

It was Sheryl Sandberg who said in her Barnard College Commencement keynote address in 2011 that who you marry will be your most important career decision.

I always like to say that I chose to stay at home for those early years with my children because I truly feel that I did, but there were other factors in play. G was offered a promotion in another country and even if I had decided to go back to work six months after my first child it would have been a long commute from Jakarta to Perth. We moved a further three times in the next six years before we settled somewhere long enough for me to return to the office. As I negotiated my hours around four children, a nanny, a school bus and a day a week working in a different location, I realised that it was possibly not a conversation G had had with his boss. Sure, he’d had a couple of weeks off here and there for births,  an early minute to attend a concert and the occasional day where both the kids and I had been sick and he’d had to stay home, but children have not affected his career, they have perhaps even enhanced it. He is a father, a provider, a member of the community.

G has always been quite the showoff when it comes to adaptability and parenting prowess. He was the guy with a child strapped to his front and one on his shoulders as he pushed another on a swing at the park. Over the weekend while I ran a blogging workshop he cooked a slow-roasted lamb, made a custard tart from scratch and saved (my) burnt pavlova by turning it into Eton mess. He is the baseball coach, the joke telling Dad at the dinner table, and he knows how to make stuff. And yet, I feel his six week bed bound experience from a herniated disk possibly caused him more career woe than any of his children. For he has had a secret weapon throughout his career – a wife.

I love writing, I love it because it gives me an outlet, I love it because it has connected me with thousands of women a day who are generous enough to share their stories. It has led me to a world of blogging where I now have a business. In the past few months I’ve taught myself how to make a podcast, how to edit a promotional video and I’m currently designing a social media for blogging course and ebook with my colleague Sarah. I make barely any money, but I can see how the business will grow. Why do I persevere? Aside from loving what I do, it works around school hours, and I can do it from home.

I imagine Sheryl Sandberg is devastated by the loss of her husband, the father of her children. From everything I have read he was a great man and will be sorely missed. May there be many more like him.


What has had the biggest effect on your career?

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