I’m a New Mom — Here’s How My Company Made Sure That I Felt Valued and Supported

Sponsored by Mastercard

Christina Gamel. Photo courtesy of Mastercard.

Christina Gamel. Photo courtesy of Mastercard.

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June 13, 2024 at 12:55AM UTC

When Christina Gamel graduated with an English degree, she wasn’t entirely sure of her career path. Her first post-college professional role was at a large law firm, where she worked as a temporary summer administrator. The experience led to a full-time position, inspiring Gamel to pursue a law degree. The next four years went by in a productive blur as Gamel juggled full-time employment during the day and law school at night. 

After she earned her law degree and passed the bar, Gamel accepted a role at a large corporation. However, it soon became clear that opportunities for career advancement were few and far between, so she moved on to a small law firm. While Gamel enjoyed her work at the firm, the culture wasn’t a great fit, and she began to search for a different role that could provide professional growth and fulfillment. 

“I knew that I wanted to work for a large, reputable company that could provide the work-life balance I was seeking and have the infrastructure to support advancement,” she says. “I also didn’t want to be bored.” 

With these needs in mind, Gamel eventually discovered a promising opening with Mastercard. At the time, she knew of the company’s reputation as a leader in the financial services industry, but she didn’t realize that Mastercard’s commitment to supporting employees with their life-work alignment was ingrained in its culture. A year after joining the company, she learned firsthand how Mastercard supports its employees.

Here, Gamel shares how the company stepped up when she experienced fertility challenges and family bereavement, what she’s responsible for in her current position as a Senior Specialist, and why she values Mastercard’s mission and core values.

Tell us more about your current role. What are you responsible for as a Senior Specialist? What skills have you developed that allow you to thrive in this role?

I work in Mastercard’s Global Business Services Center, which, in the context of the Law Department, is a hub for high-volume contracts. The entire group works on nondisclosure agreement negotiation. In addition to those agreements, I support the sales team and their efforts with processors and community institutions by drafting and negotiating agreements. Collaboration, communication, and interpersonal skills are important in this role as well as speed and accuracy. I tend to thrive in a fast-paced environment where there’s a balance between routine and innovation. 

What perks and benefits are available to Mastercard employees? What are your favorites, and why do they appeal to you? 

There are so many benefits and perks! There are smaller in-office perks that provide support for women. Free pads and tampons are available in the restrooms, and there’s a designated lactation room that can be reserved online. In my new role as a mom, some of the benefits I’ve utilized are fertility coverage, parental leave, hospital indemnity insurance (which paid out for every day I was admitted to the hospital and for every day of my son’s month-long NICU stay), and childcare subsidy. 

Mastercard employees can take advantage of our generous matching contribution of 10% of base pay each year by participating in their local retirement program. The company matching contributions are 100% vested from day one! I’m even able to run my pet insurance through automatic payroll deduction. Mastercard is not the type of company where you just get a paycheck — you also receive benefits and perks that make a real impact on your life.

*Editor’s note: Mastercard benefits detailed in this story may not be applicable globally. For more information, please visit careers.mastercard.com.

What are Mastercard’s core values, and how do they allow women to succeed and grow within the company? Why do they resonate with you?

Mastercard operates with a focus on “doing well by doing good” in the context of corporate responsibility and employee initiatives. Specifically for women, the company has committed to closing the wage gap and providing access to business resource groups for women to network and share perspectives. 

I’ve always surrounded myself with women. I attended an all-girls college prep school and was part of a sorority in college. I think it’s important for women to empower each other and share their experiences and knowledge. We’re still living in a society where women are at a disadvantage in most industries, so closing that pay gap and having avenues to network is very important. 

What does work-life balance mean to you, and how does Mastercard’s work culture support work-life balance for all its employees? 

In my opinion, work-life balance is the ability to be present for big moments in life outside of work, and even some of those smaller moments that feel big, without jeopardizing your career. At Mastercard, they refer to this as life-work alignment, finding ways to navigate personal and professional life together by integrating wellbeing into our everyday and supporting employees overall mental health and wellbeing. Mastercard supports this through initiatives like “work from anywhere” and meeting-free days. The policies and procedures of the company allow us to integrate work into our lives, which feels much more balanced than trying to squeeze our lives around work. 

Your tenure thus far at Mastercard has coincided with some difficult personal experiences. In 2022, while undergoing IVF treatments, your mother unexpectedly passed away after battling stage 4 breast cancer. How did Mastercard’s leadership personally step up and support you during this challenging time? How do the company’s policies differ from others in its space and industry?

Mastercard has a fertility policy that covers certain fertility treatments and prescription medications. IVF wouldn’t have been possible for my husband and me without that assistance because the cost of treatments is in the tens of thousands of dollars. We were very fortunate to be able to take that avenue and have the financial burden lifted. Aside from the financial assistance, my management allowed me the flexibility to attend numerous testing and monitoring appointments that were necessary throughout the process.

My mother unexpectedly passed on a Sunday, and I notified my manager. He told me not to worry about work. Mastercard offers an unmatched bereavement policy, and for the loss of my mother, I was able to be completely away from work for 20 days. I made funeral arrangements, handled my mother’s affairs, and took time to grieve and be with family. My management and my team absorbed my duties during that time, and aside from letting my manager know of my mom’s passing, I didn’t have to contact anyone in an official capacity for the entirety of those 20 days. I don’t know of any other companies that offer that much time off after the loss of a loved one. It was so appreciated and needed.

In 2023, your baby was born via emergency C-section, six weeks early. Mastercard enabled you to take paid disability and parental leave, allowing you to bond with your baby for his first eight months. How did you prepare for parental leave, and how did your team enable you to focus on your family? 

My baby was born early and unexpectedly, so I didn’t have as much time as I would’ve liked to prepare for parental leave. I was beginning to tie up loose ends and discuss the nuances of my work with those who would be taking on my role. I created a personal repository of often-used contracting language and shared it with my manager and backfill. I went into the hospital on a Sunday and had the baby. I let my team know what was going on, and they made it clear that they had everything handled. 

What was it like to return to work? What was the most challenging aspect, and how did you overcome it?

The hardest part of returning to work was the anticipation of how things might be. I had a lot of anxiety about leaving my baby and missing out on his milestones. I’m part of a generation that was told we can “have it all” — and in some ways, we can, but there are only so many hours in a day. It was great for my mental health to come back to work, be with my colleagues, and have stimulating conversations. I never would’ve believed anyone if they had told me that before my return to work.

What personal and professional advice do you have for women who are about to take maternity leave? 

Disconnect from work completely if you can. Spend the time healing. If you’re a parent who gave birth, your body just went through a nine-month marathon! Any new parent faces an overnight shift in priorities; there’s a period where everything is new and unfamiliar. Just remember to give yourself grace.

Mastercard benefits detailed in this story may not be applicable globally. For more information, please visit careers.mastercard.com.

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