From ‘Honest and Open’ Conversations to Collaborative Balance: How to Find Your Way as a Working Mom

Sponsored by ASML

Tania Hinman’s (nee Henry). Photo courtesy of ASML.

Tania Hinman’s (nee Henry). Photo courtesy of ASML.

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June 13, 2024 at 1:4PM UTC

“Give yourself time to adjust to being a working mom. Being honest and open with family and your support network is key. Ask for help, and make adjustments according to new changes... Have open discussions about your work schedule with your family, and go with what works best for you and your family situation.”

That’s Tania Hinman’s — top advice for new moms. But what does this mean in practice?

For Hinman, these open discussions started way before her child arrived. “Having a plan for transitioning your work activities prior to and after maternity leave is key,” she tells us. And while this planning stage can be daunting (even Hinman notes that she “had misconceptions and fears about having the maternity leave discussion and about exactly when the proper timing was”) — this shouldn’t stop you from starting this discussion. 

“Though it may not go exactly as you proposed, [starting this conversation] shows that you have thought about it and are conscientious,” explains Hinman. “Be open about your expectations on off-boarding and on-boarding, and readjust and recalibrate if it is not going as planned. I had clear and open discussions with my manager about how I would hand off activity.”

Through these honest discussions, Hinman was also able to determine a strategy for her maternity leave, as well as how to gradually return to work. As a result, after her three-month maternity leave, Hinman had a “smooth and reasonably paced,” return to work. “The pace allowed me to make adjustments and accommodation for my new schedule as a working mom,” she tells us.

And planning is just the start of the great advice Hinman has for you! From a look inside her life as a mother and Technical Project Manager for ASML’s Metrology and Inspection products to finding balance and how ASML supports her — you’ll find it all in this article…

Let’s begin by painting a picture of a typical day in your life. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

I enjoy a collaborative and engaging work environment at ASML. A typical day usually entails planning and aligning on technical activities and deliverables within my team, or aligning with key stakeholders both internal and external to the company. The work is engaging, as we tackle technical challenges head on to meet tight deadlines and deliver on customer requirements. 

I support multiple teams in testing key requirements and the performance of ASML’s electron beam inspection and metrology tools. My teams work hard to make sure that our products are performing exceptionally and can meet key customer requirements. Prior to signing off from work for the day, I generally reassess the day’s activities and plan for upcoming activities.

You clearly have a lot going on! What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get it all done and attain work-life balance?

Work-life balance is collaborative. Planning ahead and regularly assessing and re-prioritizing is necessary. Family coordination and flexibility within my work schedule allows me to get it all done. 

There is also a certain level of openness and transparency about the ‘life’ balance at ASML, which makes it easy. It is very common for colleagues to openly communicate on their calendar that they need to be out of the office for reasons such as a child pick-up or doctor’s appointment. I had never experienced this openness prior to joining ASML. As a new working mom, it is reassuring and, because it is acceptable to be open about your non-work responsibilities, you feel connected to a community that embraces family. You do not feel guilty that you now have this new responsibility

What does “balance” mean to you, and in what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved it? 

I do not see balance as an attempt to not tip the scale on the work or non-work side; however, I feel a certain level of satisfaction and accomplishment when both work goals and life goals are being accomplished. It is also important to have a delineation between work and non-work activity. I find that if there are blurred lines, or if I am trying to do both at the same time, one suffers at the expense of the other.

There are many clubs and organizations within ASML that can help with that balance as well. For instance, I am a member of ASML’s Silicon Valley Toastmasters club. Our club provides a safe space, where participants can actively practice building their speaking and listening skills to improve overall communication. The meetings are engaging and fun, and you can be guaranteed to receive constructive feedback and insights from your team members on improving your public speaking. I always leave the meetings with some new insight or learnings, whether it be on speech organization, something new in tech, or some new insight into someone’s culture.

Let’s talk more about ASML’s culture and how it supports you. What’s your favorite aspect of their culture, and how does ASML aid you in achieving balance?

There is an openness, general understanding, and flexibility around having balance. If your work-life situation changes, you can have an open, non-judgmental discussion about that change, how it may affect your work, and how that change can be facilitated.

Finally, why do you think ASML is a particularly great place to be a working mom?

Flexibility. In my experience, it was beneficial to have an open conversation about my leave with my manager and team. Now, as a working mom, I’m comfortable being open about changes and surprises that do come up. Additionally, in my experience, the idea of some stigma attached to being a new mom in tech was non-existent for me at ASML. ASML is a great place to work, and my value or contribution did not diminish after being a mom. For some women working in technology fields, there is the pressure of starting a family and balancing that with their careers. At ASML, I felt valued before and after being a mom. Flexibility and remote work options helped create a smooth transition back to work.

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