Top tech women and their daughters discuss family and success

Photo of the crowd at the Daughters of the Evolution panel at Dropbox

How is the grind of modern work life affecting moms and their families? At last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, we were introduced to Daughters of the Evolution, an inspiring event that brings together powerful women and their daughters for a frank, open discussion about the challenges of balancing work life and family life.

Developed by Margaret Johnson, Chief Creative Officer at Goodby Silverstein and AdAge’s Agency Executive of the Year, the original panel featured working moms who are some of the most powerful creative leaders in the advertising industry. This year, in honor of Women’s History Month, we invited Margaret and her daughter Vivian to bring the panel to Dropbox.

Photo of Margaret Johnson and her daughter, Vivian
Margaret Johnson, Chief Creative Officer at Goodby Silverstein, and her daughter, Vivian

This panel represented the first time Daughters of the Evolution has come to tech and featured: Carolyn Feinstein, CMO at Dropbox, and her daughters, Charlotte and Sophie; Heather Staples, Head of Communications at Open Door, and her daughter, Annika; and Gina Pell, CEO and Founder of Splendora, and her daughter, Octavia.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the discussion.

1. Mothers pass along courage to their daughters in a generational chain

“She gets [her courage] from her mom, who got it from her mom. So it’s just a chain of really good people.”—Sophie (Carolyn’s daughter)

“My mom always says, ‘You got this.’ And I know I do when she says that because I can feel the confidence she has in me.”—Annika (Heather’s daughter)

Photo of the daughters at the Daughters of the Evolution panel at Dropbox

2. The way we define “balance” is personal and subjective

“It’s a constant struggle, but it’s figuring out what balance means for you. Balance is constantly changing based on what’s going on in your life… Just listen to that and realize there are choices, rather than feeling like there’s a perfect mix.”—Heather

“I think it’s about being sustainable. It’s about me being the whole person that I’m proud of, not just the professional person I’m proud of or the mother I’m proud of. There’s always an ebb and flow to that.”—Carolyn

Photo of Carolyn Feinstein and her daughters
Carolyn Feinstein, Chief Marketing Officer at Dropbox, and her daughters, Charlotte and Sophie

3. Being a superwoman at work and at home is exhausting

“I think I can be a great mom and a great CEO, just not at the same time…That’s just the superwoman myth… if we try to follow (that), we’re going to burn ourselves out.”—Gina

Photo of Gina Pell and her daughter
Gina Pell, CEO and Founder of Splendora, and her daughter, Octavia

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for support when your workload gets intense

“My advice is to lean into your family dynamic such that it doesn’t feel like, as a woman, you have to both be the executive at your company and do 90% of what is required to make the world go around for your family.”—Carolyn

“My company was acquired when Octavia was born and I had to work in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco every month. But my husband said, ‘I’ll take the baby phase.’ So it worked out great.”—Gina

5. Companies need to adopt flexible policies on work schedules

“I think the two-big-job thing is really hard… I do think that some level of flexibility in presence at offices is going to have to be the answer.”—Carolyn

“As long as the work gets done and the work gets done well, it shouldn’t really matter where that work is happening. Because that’s the only way we’re going to get to that kind of flexibility where moms and dads can go participate in a field trip.”—Heather

Photo of Heather Staples and her daughter
Heather Staples, Head of Communications at Open Door, and her daughter, Annika

The way we work is evolving. There’s much that can be done to design a more enlightened way of working for parents and their families—and Dropbox is excited to be at the forefront of that evolution. Though we can’t change things overnight, we are working on new ways to help people work more collaboratively and give them more flexibility to work from wherever they need to be.

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