By Samantha Lande, BCB Staff Writer
Welcome to Wonder Woman Wednesday, a weekly feature that will attempt to tackle the question we are frequently asked— “how do moms really do it all?” Each week we will feature an amazing mom with extraordinary abilities. From founders of some of the most successful companies to philanthropists who are changing the world, these women are true heroines. To thank them for lifting the cape on some of their super powers, we will make a donation to the charity of their choice.
NAME: Sara Sutton Fell
KIDS: Two boys, age 8 and age 6
LIVE IN: Boulder, CO
FAVORITE CHARITY: Cancer and Careers which helps “empower and educate people with cancer to thrive in their workplace.”
Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, but the workplace doesn’t always see it that way. Sara Sutton Fell learned that firsthand and decided to do something about it. She founded a website called FlexJobs (while pregnant with her first child) that allows job seekers to find positions that have some form of flexibility—telecommuting, part-time, alternative schedule or freelance work—for amazing companies like Apple and American Express. She took her passion one step further and also founded 1 Million for Work Flexibility, a group of professionals and organizations who hopes to educate and inspire companies to support more work flexibility. Sara tells us how she “walks the walk” with her own work-life balance, all while aiming to change the workforce for the better.
Tell us your backstory…
When I was a junior in college, back in 1995, I co-founded an entry-level job search website (JobDirect) with a childhood friend. At the time, I had struggled to find an internship in a different location than my college, and we came up with the idea of a job database that would help address that challenge for ourselves, our friends, and millions of other college students. We were fortunate – and scrappy – enough to sell that company in 2000, and after holding several other executive roles at other companies, I found myself laid off and 8 months pregnant. Going on interviews in my 3rd trimester went about as you might expect – not well. No matter how qualified I was, all that mattered was that I was pregnant. I understood, but it was the first time I really felt my career limitations as a woman. I started looking for flexible job options, and quickly realized that there was a huge opportunity to create a quality service to help people who want or need work flexibility to find legitimate, professional jobs.
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
My weekdays can be summed up this way: early morning yoga (some days), helping my sons get ready and head to school, walking over to my home office above the garage, and getting started on work. Break for lunch (fresh salad from the garden during summer!), then back to the home office for work. Meet my kids when they come home from school, spend some quality time with them, and then head to the office for a wrap up of the day. Depending on the weather, I might add in a morning mountain bike ride, and in the evenings I try to “power down” as much as possible to focus on family time.
What would you consider your theme song?
I’m not sure about my theme song, but we’ve joked at work that Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”, the theme song for the 1980s movie of the same name, would make a great theme song for FlexJobs. “Workin’ 9 to 5. What a way to make a livin’, Barely gettin’ by – It’s all takin’ and no givin’.” It perfectly describes what we’re trying to help people avoid in their work lives!
Who is your supporting cast of characters ?
My family – my husband has been incredibly supportive, like when I decided I wanted to start FlexJobs at the same time as we were preparing to welcome our first child into the world. Most people would think it’s a little nuts to take on so much all at once (and maybe it was!) but he knew I had to do it. And my mom, of course. And of course, my girlfriends, who help to keep me laughing, grounded, loved, and supported in so many ways.
What is your super power?
At this point in my life and with what my company’s mission is, I would say work flexibility and the ability to have more freedom of choice for how I get things done. More choice and control over when, where, and how I work. In general, in all moms’ lives, a lot of what happens to us is out of our control. Health, family, friends, work–there are so many moving parts and situations in which we just have to respond quickly and without question. Having the ability to be flexible with my work in a way that works best for me and my family definitely feels like a super power.
If you could have a secret identity what would it be and what would you use it for?
Super Man – I’d love to be able to fly (with my kids on my back, of course) and quickly be anywhere in the world. It would be great for work travel, and to show my kids that there is a big, big world out there.
How do you protect (and give back to) your community?
At FlexJobs, I think the biggest way we protect our community of job seekers is to help them find a job that will make their lives better – and to find that job safely and more efficiently. We are a team of people who “walk the walk” of work flexibility, we really believe in it for our own lives, and we want to help make it a reality for the millions of others who want it too.
What is in your power pack?
My phone, lip balm, comfortable shoes, a warm layer, and hand lotion.
Bump Club and Beyond will make a donation in honor of Sara Sutton Fell and the work she is doing to Cancer and Careers.