Shani Sankersingh has a lot on her plate. As Senior Product Manager of Onboarding at Capital One, she has a demanding job, she’s a devoted mother of two, and - on top of that - she regularly schedules time to decompress with her friends and neighbors. Yet while her day starts early and is jam packed, Shani makes it all work.
Being employed by Capital One certainly helps. “They really empathize with working parents,” she says, adding that she takes advantage of flexible scheduling and remote work options. “Most teams I work with acknowledge that sometimes ‘life happens,’ and they are always supportive and flexible,” she explains.
Shani recently shared her go-to stress relief routine with Fairygodboss, the boundaries she sets to balance work and family time, and what she loves most about Capital One (warning: it’s going to make you jealous).
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been in my current role for almost 5 years and have been working at Capital One for over 9 years. At my prior job, I led a team of system engineers and integrators for Royal Bank Canada in the Caribbean. I’ve always been a technical lead, but in 2014 I discovered a passion for product development and I switched over to the Product Management discipline.
What’s your pre-work morning routine like?
I’m usually up by 6 a.m. to organize breakfast and lunch for my family. Both my boys (9 and 15) take lunches to school, so I make fresh lunches for them daily. I have my breakfast (bulletproof coffee) by 7:10 a.m., typically after my younger son gets on his school bus.
Why do you think Capital One is a particularly great place to be a working mom?
I believe Capital One is a great place to work because they recognize and empathize with working parents. My husband travels for his job at least two weeks each month, so this leaves me to parent alone in his absence. My leadership team at Capital One supports working from home as needed and provides me with excellent collaboration tools so I never miss a beat. When unplanned kid emergencies have sprung up, my managers have always been super flexible and understanding. Most teams I work with acknowledge that sometimes “life happens,” and they are always supportive and flexible.
How do you feel like your job has helped complement your function as a parent?
I am very proud of the work I do at Capital One, and my kids know the importance of a good work ethic and accountability. They see my commitment to living our values and they likewise have adopted similar ethics as part of their approach to school/sports.
Most importantly, I always try to apply the productivity techniques that I use as part of my daily routine at work to my home life; my kids all love post-its and sharpies. We have a roadmap of our vacations over the next two years, which our family put together, and we use design thinking for problem solving and prioritization.
How has your role as a mom made you a better employee?
As a parent, I’ve learned to be patient and to appreciate different perspectives. My kids are different ages, and as such, have varying perspectives. They’ve taught me to listen and to value diverse thought.
What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?
My go-to stress buster is cooking/baking and regular wine nights. Once a month, my ladies’ group (neighbors) will meet up at different houses and enjoy snacks and drinks. We share stories, advice and anecdotes about life, books, movies - everything. My ladies’ group is the most amazing support system for moms like myself.
What kinds of boundaries do you follow (if any) to separate work and family time?
I have a few rules on keeping harmony in my life:
Leave your drama at the door (that applies to everyone).
We do pits and peaks at most dinners; that's the time we can share the daily grind.
I practice an open-door policy both at home and at the office.
Sometimes people just have a bad day. Don’t judge someone in the pit.
Set expectations. If I have to work late, I let everyone at home know so I can get coverage. It is important to have updated communication to set expectations.
Everyone is entitled to a time out, so if you need it, just say so. Ask for your space.
What are you especially good at as a mom? What about at work?
As a mom, I am really good at listening and not freaking out. I believe all problems have solutions — we just have to figure them out. I have two pictures hung in the corridor of the bedrooms; one says Failure=Opportunity and the other says Hearing=Listening. If I am swamped and the kids speak to me, I will share at times that I am hearing but I am not listening, and they know to check in with me a little later. I have the exact same approach at work.
What’s your No. 1 tip for new moms who are navigating the delicate balance of working and mothering?
Be kind to yourself. Mistakes happen and it's not the end of the world.
Leave room for flexibility because life happens.
What’s your favorite part of your work day (or your favorite aspect of your job)?
My favorite part of the day is to review the list of things that I have completed. I strike through completed items on my list and it feels awesome.
What do you love most about Capital One?
I get the opportunity every day to learn something new about life. At Capital One there are many avenues to try new skills or learn new things. The biggest appeal of Capital One is the investment in their associates - there are so many programs that are appealing across the board for associate growth.
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