Love that rush

Other high-tech professionals who don’t want to give up the thrill and potential IPO windfall with a revved-up startup are finding some semblance of balance by learning to better organize their time and set rules so they don’t get overwhelmed. Shernaz Daver, a mother of two small children, is the highest-ranking female at Foster City, Calif.-based Inktomi, which offers Internet infrastructure software. As vice president of corporate marketing and investor relations, she has helped guide the company, which now has more than 400 employees, through its blockbuster IPO of June 1998, and through many alliances and acquisitions. She has made enough to retire yesterday. But she won’t give up the thrill, and feels she can have it both ways.

“There’s a personal gratification to helping build something. It’s almost like being addicted to something you love and yet know takes a lot out of you every day,” she says. “I believe I’m a better person, a better mother, for having a career. I’m more independent, more confident.” And she now sets rules: no work on weekends except Sunday evenings; travel less; return home (generally) in time to put her 23-month-old toddler to bed; have her assistant schedule work meetings and trips around key children’s events; and bring the kids to work sometimes so they feel included. (Oh, a nanny helps, too.)

“I have a different view of the world. It’s not cut and dry. It’s not mommy track versus career,” she says. When she interviewed for the job two and a half years ago Inktomi had no maternity policy. They put one in for her. “Now pregnant women are popping out all over!” she beams.

Clearly, it takes plenty more than maternity and paternity policy to create a sane work culture. The majority of Silicon Valley and general Internet-related companies have a long way to go, beyond offering pool tables, workout rooms, 15-minute monthly massages, paid-for takeout dinner on the job, to truly foster life balance. But there are pioneers even in the Internet arena. One appears to be BusinessBots, a San Francisco startup that develops “bot”-operated markets for B-to-B ecommerce. Its founder, Moses Ma, a meditator who practices Taoism and tai chi, speaks of “keeping a culture of wisdom versus speed.” He says his goal is to work an average of 35 hours a week — very efficiently — and encourages employees to practice yoga, meditation, tai chi, whatever helps bring them peace of mind. “It’s important for every manager to care for employees’ health as well as the bottom line,” he says.

Like others seeking to preserve, or reclaim, their sanity without giving up the excitement and fulfillment of high-tech work they love, Delevati of Aspect vows to structure down time outside of work into his busy week. He hesitates before continuing, sounding less than fully convinced. “It’d be good to keep track of what happens over the next few months.”

Of course, life is not free of stress for the professional stress busters of Silicon Valley either. After several phone tag sessions with Business 2.0, Stanford’s Zappert calls at 11 p.m. for an interview, after a full day of work followed by an evening faculty meeting. “It’s ironic, isn’t it?” she laughs, in a breathy tone of fatigue.

Ordering international calling cards can help out you control your phone fees profitably, wisely, and also they’re extremely convenient.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.