Max Schireson is a name you probably didn’t know before today. Though by this afternoon you’ll likely know his story and the major and important step he just made that continues to bush the boundaries of gender stereotypes.
Schireson is the CEO of software company MongoDB and announced today he’s going to be stepping down next month from “the best job I ever had.”
On his own blog, Schireson wrote he is going to be leaving MongoDB to spend more time with his family. Not in the way many CEO’s claim en route to their golden parachute. For Schireson, this is the truth, geographical distance between family and work just become too much. “Unfortunately, I cannot be that leader given the geography of the majority of the company in New York and my family in California,” Schireson wrote.
His announcement brings with it a very unique perspective. As a CEO, Schireson says he’s been “asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of both a dad and a CEO.”
“Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.”
He points to recent headline making interviews of female CEO’s where that question was asked and became a topic of national discussion. To us at Dads Who Diaper, that question is a vital and important one. In fact, when we conduct our interviews we always want to know that exact answer. You can read the response from Kinsight.com founder & CEO here and the creator of the Andy & Evan fashion line here.
Schireson has three kids, between the ages of 9 and 14. He travels over 300,000 miles a year, in addition to commuting between Palo Alto and New York every few weeks, and his wife has a full time career as a doctor and professor at Stanford. She had sacrificed enough Schireson wrote, helping to make his very difficult decision. “She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me. I love her, I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience.”
The weight of Schireson’s decision is not lost on him. He says he is fully aware his decision may cost him “tens of millions of dollars” or the chance to be CEO again. Though these are decisions moms have been making for decades. Maybe not to the tune of millions of dollars, but they are forced to make tough family decisions. Seeing a father in a high profile position doing the same should be considered refreshing but not unusual. As fathers are more involved and engaged in parenting these are the decisions fathers want to make today.
“I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.” - Max Schireson
Schireson no doubt can afford to make a decision like this, he’s able to choose family vs career, something most in America cannot. Though that should not cloud the importance of the step he is taking. The national dialogue should not be whether it’s a man or women who is able to make time for their family while serving in a high profile position. It should be how any person works to balance work and family life. Just like the millions of other Americans doing the same.
Dev Ittycheria will be taking over as President and CEO of MongoDB in September and Schireson will move to become Vice Chairman and remain with company.
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