Right before I sat down to chat with Hitha, her autoresponder was going viral on Instagram. It wasn’t just because she was being totally open about her replies being delayed because of COVID closures at her kids’ schools, but because she calls out how being able to put up a message like that is a privilege- one that she has as a CEO. As a mom whose kids had only made it to 2 full days of daycare and preschool that week, I felt seen and as a co-founder of a startup, I felt inspired. Even in my place of privilege as a founder at the company, it can feel really hard to share with the team that I can only work 5 hours today because Hudson is sick or daycare is closed. But I know I have to because it’s not actually about me at all, it’s about creating a culture where caregiving is recognized as real work. I want every team member to feel empowered to always do what’s best for themselves and their families.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
Hitha self identifies as a multi-hyphenate as an entrepreneur, investor, writer, and speaker. Though Hitha is incredibly accomplished professionally, her Work Like a Mother interview convinced me that she is human and not a superhero with a cape. Hitha details her morning routine with her family, explained how she curates her #5smartreads list, and shared her tips for getting out of weeknight meal prep for her kids. Hitha unapologetically shares her struggles as a working mom during a pandemic. She uses her privilege to give others permission to speak out and advocate for themselves and their families too.
What have you learned from your experience as a CEO?
I have learned to grow a thick skin, but also grow a really strong filter to discern what is constructive from what could just be someone having a rough day. This pandemic is weighing on us in a lot of different ways. I think its important to be receptive to feedback and I think its also important to give people a little bit of grace as well.
Can you tell us a little bit about #5SmartReads? How do you find the time to read and curate these lists?
I wanted a way to stay connected to friends and I am a nerd. I’ve been reading the news every day since high school. And I figured if I made it easy for friends and family to digest the news, maybe someone would discuss it with me. #5SmartReads started in a very selfish capacity.
I think I posted for two and a half months with extremely minimal engagement. But then things really started to click, and people became a lot more engaged. Frankly, I’m shocked but thrilled by the response.
I tried to pick five underreported news stories that share underestimated perspectives that you’re not going to come across in a quick skim of the news. It’s also important to me to also use this as an opportunity to explain health care as much as I can. So that’s always been a priority. This is a safe space to read the news and share your thoughts.
You wrote a book called We’re Speaking. Can you tell us a bit about your experience writing the book?
Kamala Harris has been a hero of mine from afar for a very long time since she was Attorney General of California. And at the time, when I was just beginning my pharmaceutical career, I found myself in rooms with leaders of the industry, and I didn’t have a blueprint to know how to show up in those rooms in a professional and appropriate way, both as a woman and a person of color.
And then seeing Kamala Harris provided that blueprint for me. She was my mentor from afar for many years. And I had this ongoing list of Kamala-isms. I included lines she used in the speech or video clips of her and that became the basis of the book. It’s my decade long study of Kamala Harris distilled into some very tactical, specific tips on how to own your voice, step into power, and be assertive. It’s equal parts professional and personal because I think the two go hand in hand. Having a strong foundation at home and a strong foundation of self is going to help you show up for all the challenges you’re going to face both in work and in life with your full strength.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.
Read more from Bridget, follow her on IG, and check out her new series, Work Like a Mother.