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Lisa’s Lessons: Thoughts from a Working Mom

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My name is Lisa Depew, and I’m a mom. And an engineer. And a passionate advocate for STEM and employee development and volunteering and… These many areas of interest often pull me in different directions, but working at Intel has enabled me to integrate all of them, while thriving as a technical female in the industry. Sometimes we look at companies so one-dimensionally—we only see their products or their position in the marketplace—that we don’t always consider the programs and day-to-day realities that will shape our lives as employees there. Let me open the door to the life of a working mom.

First, let me say that this is my story, not everyone’s story. But it is an example of the possible, and at Intel we constantly push to explore endless possibilities. I grew up in the Midwest and am very family-centric—raising happy, healthy, compassionate, empowered people is my top priority. I received my Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Dayton in the late Nineties and have worked my entire professional career (including internships) at Intel Corporation. I met my husband here at work; he is also an electrical engineer with a multitude of outside interests and passions. We’ve been married thirteen years and have two beautiful sons who are now eight and nine. I’ve held multiple roles in various business groups here at Intel—including in design, validation, customer support, technical marketing, tools and services, people- and program-management, and business operations. I currently serve as Chief of Staff to Intel’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the data security group.

A career development course at Intel that helps employees understand their personal drivers and look for a best career fit pegged me pretty well over a decade ago, when it indicated that my highest drivers were “challenge” and “balance.” I’m the kind of person who constantly wants to be challenged—who thrills to the idea of learning something new, digging in on a complex problem, and proving we can do something that has never before been accomplished. I love my work. I also love my other interests—my family, my hobbies, spending time with friends, and traveling the world. So the challenge (at Intel, we call them “opportunities”) became finding a way to integrate them all while being successful in both the work and life arenas.

Thankfully, Intel has a multitude of programs and a plethora of amazing people to help working parents do just that. At Intel campuses, we have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that enable people to connect and share common interests beyond their “day jobs.” I joined the Intel Parents Network (IPN) before we even had kids. I wanted to learn everything, to prepare me to be the best mom I could be! I found out about on-site nursing mothers rooms, Intel’s backup childcare reimbursement program, resources for finding quality in-home daycare, and more. Folsom also has one of the most active Women at Intel Network (WIN) chapters in the company. Here I met many career- and family-minded women who shared their stories and tips on how to navigate life as a working woman/mother. These women continue to be my source of support and sponsorship today. (My last two career moves came from connections to amazing technical women at Intel.)

A less formal but additionally available opportunity I utilized was flexible work hours. I wanted to be able to spend quality time with my boys when they were young—I knew I couldn’t get those years back—and negotiated with management to have a part-time schedule while my boys were babies. I worked 60% (24 hours per week) for about two and a half years, then scaled to 80% for a number of years, then fully integrated to a “traditional” schedule when my younger son reached first grade. I also was able to combine my first sabbatical (eight weeks of paid time off after seven years of service) with a Maternity Leave of Absence (MLOA) and six weeks of bonding leave to be home with my first son for four and a half months. I also utilized MLOA plus bonding leave with my second son. Additionally, my husband took bonding leave with each of our sons, so they really had the opportunity to connect with both of their parents while we learned how to navigate this critical new stage in our lives.

The world has progressed greatly in the past decade. Intel has developed a more formal New Parent Reintegration Program to facilitate parents’ needs to spend quality time with their children while integrating back into the workforce after the birth of a child. And in a recent update, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced to employees that the company is initiating paid bonding leave in the U.S. in 2015!

Parents still have to take active part in advocating for themselves and holding constructive career conversations with their managers. But the groundwork has been laid for those looking to find that best, personalized solution for themselves and their families.

I’ve watched significant growth these seventeen years—within the company and throughout the industry—in supporting working parents. I believe this is the most intriguing time to be a capable woman in tech. I’m thrilled to read each new report of companies advancing opportunity and investment in the diversity of their workforce—and proud to see Intel leading the way.

What benefits for working moms and parents do you most appreciate—or wish for? Let us know.
About the Author
Lisa Depew is an electrical engineer and works at Intel Corporation, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer. She loves travel, collaboration, and learning and has held roles in processor and memory design, platform validation, processor and chipset technical marketing, business operations, and people- and program-management. She is currently Chief of Staff in the Security Group where Intel drives innovative solutions to the world's digital security challenges. Lisa has been nationally recognized for her excellence in business operations and customer management initiatives and was one of 10 women in the nation to receive the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) 2013 Emerging Leader Award. She brilliantly balances a fast-paced career and motherhood, speaks locally and nationally supporting youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and continually advocates for attracting, retaining, and advancing technical females in the workforce.