When COVID-19 first sparked widespread shutdowns across the globe in March, many companies struggled to quickly adapt to remote working. The end result for a number of workers was a complicated combination of feelings: gratitude to still be working, but also stress stemming from the disorder of their jobs during an already deeply stressful time.
That’s why Megan Au feels so fortunate. At ConsenSys, where she works as a senior member of Corporate Counsel on the Legal team, many of the benefits that COVID has made necessary on a broad scale — like remote working and flexibility — were already available to her.
“Remote working is a big benefit here, and not something that you have to ask for — it’s an inherent part of our culture and we really are leading the way in this area,” Megan recently shared. “This was particularly evident during the COVID-19 outbreak when we were able to pivot seamlessly to being completely remote whilst other companies and firms struggled with disruption to their work.”
Flexibility as a cornerstone of the company’s culture also means that she feels supported in balancing having kids at home with a career that lets her work on some of the company’s biggest deals and “do work that hasn’t been done before.” She recently shared with us what that work looks like, how her team lead and ConsenSys’s remote culture helps her achieve balance and more.
Tell us a bit about your current role, how long have you been in it, what were you doing previously and how did you find ConsenSys?
My role is Corporate Counsel on ConsenSys’s Legal team. I have been at ConsenSys for a little over two years and was previously in a compliance legal operations role at New York’s Columbia University, in their Athletic department. We decided to move away from New York, and I knew the career path in the field of compliance and athletics was not conducive to starting a family. Much of the work in the athletics field requires weekends and evenings in person, which wasn’t going to work for me long term. I knew I wanted to continue my career and have children eventually, so I was looking to pivot into a role where I could use my legal background. From there, I began my search which then led to me joining ConsenSys back in May 2018.
What was it about ConsenSys that made you first want to join?
The work at ConsenSys, especially being in a Legal department, is really different. It’s interesting, it's new, it’s cutting edge and you’re also helping to build a company from the ground up. All of these combined factors are rare to find in the legal field. It was also an opportunity to work on novel issues in a company that is at the forefront of building an ecosystem, and you really have a chance to see your work drive an entire industry.
In addition, my team is really special. I love the people I work with and truly enjoy the work, which is the biggest benefit of being at ConsenSys. My team enables me to work on different issues, hop on things that I find interesting and excel on areas where I already have the experience and the background by taking the lead in those matters.
Let’s talk about ConsenSys’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does it help you to achieve balance in your life?
As you can imagine, the Legal team tends to be pretty busy. There is a lot of work, which is a good thing. One thing I really appreciate is the flexibility to work when I need to and be fully engaged with my kids when I want to. If I was trying to do this in my old role, it would have been a problem, as the expectation was to be at an event late in the evening when they would need to be in bed.
At ConsenSys, I can work on some of our biggest deals once they’re in bed or out playing with a friend on the weekend, which works better for our family. I don’t think I fully appreciated when I started how much the flexibility would mean to me. I am able to manage my schedule and block out time between 5-7pm so that I can be with my children which is supported and encouraged by my colleagues. Having that understanding from them is critical, and Matt Corva, our Lead, is exceptionally good at encouraging the team to strike a balance between our work and personal lives which is consistent with our culture across the company.
What’s one thing your company does — whether a formal policy or program— that you think is particularly unique or unexpected?
I think one policy that is unique to us is the extended parental leave which I took advantage of this past year. Generally in the U.S., parental leave policies are not great. It is really dependent on your individual company and there is no minimum that is required, only in some jurisdictions.
Last year, ConsenSys really took a charge in that space for both primary and non-primary caregivers. As a primary caregiver, I was able to take the fully paid three-month leave that we were offered and then was also offered an additional 12 weeks unpaid, which was extremely generous. This was my second child, so I felt much more comfortable going back after three months.
How was the transition back from family leave?
Mine was great. My team protected my time with my newborn while I was on leave. If they saw an email come in for me, they jumped in to help, and so when I was ready to come back, I was excited to be brought back into the fold.
As mentioned before, our Head of Legal, Matt Corva, is really supportive of this policy. He is able to organize the team and culture in a way that enables people to excel in their career and be fully engaged in their personal life. He and my team not only made it easy for me to take the leave that I needed, but also when I came back he had projects to handoff to me and made me feel like the team was excited for my return, which I think is just as important. The entire team included me in the various matters they were working on and made me feel valued and included.
I really feel that our Leadership across ConsenSys has an innate trust in their people which in turn makes people want to contribute, stay engaged and perform. I have to give credit to Zahava Kahan, our Chief People Officer, and the People team who made this policy a reality and Joe Lubin, our CEO, for supporting this. I think this policy did exactly what ConsenSys had intended it to and gives you the space and time to be with your newborn and come back when you are ready to be fully engaged and contributing.
Describe 1-5 employee benefits that positively impact women who work here.
My top 3 would be:
Flexibility: It is all about flexibility. For women to have flexibility in their day-to-day work is great. I know I am someone who has to pick up her kids at 5:30 p.m. and then once they’re in bed I can get back to my work. This is a great benefit.
Remote working: Since the company’s inception, we’ve always had a hybrid model of remote work and the option to go into one of our offices if you’re nearby. This has contributed to a truly global working environment with people working across timezones in over 25 countries. Employees appreciate it, it’s not something that you have to ask for — it’s an inherent part of our culture and we really are leading the way in this area. This was particularly evident during the COVID-19 outbreak when we were able to pivot seamlessly to being completely remote whilst other companies and firms struggled with disruption to their work.
Our parental leave policy: From the U.S. perspective, we are now a leader with one of the most generous leave policies that rivals larger tech companies. ConsenSys really shows that this is important to our culture and employees and hopefully it helps to move the ball forward in this area for new parents in the U.S.
Is there anything else women should know about pursuing a career at ConsenSys?
I think that besides the culture, it’s the work that we’re doing. You get to work at a place that is at the forefront of a new technology that will be transformational in nearly every industry across the globe. So to me, ConsenSys is making a concerted effort to include women and provide an opportunity to do something rare. The work that you’re doing hasn’t been done before, so you get to be part of the change. I think we’re also really lucky to have a CEO who is supportive, pushing DEI forward, and not only building a company, but building a company culture that is inclusive of everybody.
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