As an Application Engineering Specialist at 3M, Bridgette Shannon says every day at work is different. But that doesn’t scare her at all. As a mom of three and an avid gym-goer, Shannon is used to dealing with the twists and turns of life by carefully grouping her priorities, incorporating lots of understanding and tapping into 3M’s flexible working culture.
The mom of three shared how she juggles busy mornings and her kids’ sports games and how 3M has supported her in finding her groove. Then, she shared her best piece of advice for new moms. It boils down to something every woman should hear: “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been in my current role for almost two years. Previously, I was in a product development role, working with abrasives and minerals like I am today. Now, I’m working more in product commercialization and customer engagement.
What’s your pre-work morning routine like?
Craziness! I get myself up first and get myself together before the kids wake up. I have three kids, and the younger two are always challenging because they don’t want to get up. Once I finally get them out of bed, I get them dressed and, on a good day, we eat breakfast together. My husband usually prepares breakfast, but sometimes my oldest, DJ, will get the younger two’s breakfast ready, which is a huge help. I always have a variety of different breakfast options on hand because if we’re running late, it’s grab and go. While we get ready, we talk about what the kids have going on at school that day and review anything they need to go over. Sometimes I’m on a phone call during all this. But 3M is good about knowing early morning meetings can be noisy with kids.
Why do you think your company is a particularly great place to be a working mom?
That’s the 3M culture. Flexibility is implemented and accepted by all, and it really does help. I know of cases where companies try to implement flexibility but there is resistance from certain groups – but I’ve never seen that at 3M. It’s such a family environment.
How do you feel like your job has complemented your function as a parent?
The nature of the job — every day is a different day in my role. Because I’m working with customers, there is so much flexibility in my day. I tend to group together my priorities at work and at home, which allows me to have a more holistic view of everything I need to get done. My responsibilities go beyond 9-5, but that’s what having a flexible work schedule is all about.
How has your role as a mom made you a better employee?
Being a mom really has helped me be a better employee. I have more patience and am a little bit more understanding and open-minded. Seeing that all my kids are different in their personalities and the way they operate gives me sympathy for others. I’m able to be more compassionate because of it.
What’s your go-to stress-relief activity or routine?
Exercise. I just finished up boxing and swimming classes, so now I want to start a workout schedule where I can swim and do yoga. I try to mix it up and do different things on different days. If I’m too busy to work out, I like to have quiet time and drink a cup of coffee or tea and think. Or I’ll listen to music or call a friend to talk.
What kinds of boundaries do you follow (if any) to separate work and family time?
I try to be there for all my kids’ experiences. If my kid has a game, I block my calendar to be there. I really put them first. Even though I’m a working mom, they’re loved, and I want to show that I’ll be there for them.
What are you especially good at as a mom? What about at work?
I think I’m good at making my kids and my coworkers feel valued. I want my kids to know I’m here to support them. Same thing at work; I’m here to support my coworkers and to help 3M be successful. My kids and coworkers both know they can depend on me.
What’s your #1 tip for new moms who are navigating the delicate balance of working and mothering?
Being a working mom is hard but rewarding. It takes a village to make it work. It really does. Don’t try to do it alone. Be open to letting others help you, even with the little things like another parent offering to take your child home after a game. That’s the only way to make it work.
What do you love most about your company?
The technology. 3M is a big company and there’s so much to learn. I love to learn, so knowing there’s always an opportunity to do that at 3M is a huge benefit as an employee.
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