Allison Venditti is the secret weapon for moms looking to create careers they love. Her business is CareerLove, where she provides counselling and a group program for moms ready to return to work. She also runs Moms at Work Group, one of the kindest and most supportive working mom groups you'll find online.
She's spent over a decade in Human Resources, including thousands of hours interviewing applicants, working with women after their maternity leaves, and supporting companies (big and small!) in industries ranging from consumer packaged goods, marketing, banking, tech, startups, engineering, non-profit, health care and government.
And what's super cool is that she's walking the walk -- she has done it all while being a mom to three young sons.
I've admired Allison and the work that she does to help support women returning to work, especially since I know that many women in my community are moms and juggling the work-life balance challenges.
I reached out to see if she would do an email interview with me, and she graciously provided some amazing insights to my questions.
Read on to learn more about Allison and get some nuggets on the world of working moms!
You’re a career coach who specializes in working with moms - when did you start your business and what motivated you?
I started my business in 2017 after recovering from a Traumatic Brain Injury - which you can read about here. I wasn't able to return to my former job in the fast world of corporate consulting but I had been coaching and doing HR corporately so I was excited to try and do it on my own. I gave myself (well my bank account gave me) 6 months to get it up and running. What motivated me was that I wanted a job that would let me pick up my kids from school. I missed a lot of time with my kids waiting in specialists office and in rehab. It was time for both me and for my family.
You have one of the warmest and supportive Facebook groups I’ve seen for working moms. What makes your group tick? What do you LOVE about your group?
It is the people. I love that I get to meet IRL lots of the group members. I love that I get to work with lots of people in my group both 1:1 and in my group programs. I like that because I work for myself I have the flexibility to really spend time in the group and get to know people (do you see a theme here - I am a super connector - I love people). When I started the group my focus was on attracting working moms who were ready for a truly kind space. I am a stickler for timelines I said if I didn't love the vibe in the first 3 months I would shut it down. This group is a space where we support each other, share with each other and get to know one another. The other big plus is that I trust that people will look out for the group and keep it positive and supportive. I had the flu for 3 days and popped back in to see people just continuing to be lovely. Warms my heart 🙂
Your business is Career Love - why is it important for someone to love their career? How does their life change?
I think that people confuse love with passion (which I wrote about the difference here) What I want for people is to enjoy their work, be valued as an employee and feel like they feel content at the end of the day and can head home to spend time with loved ones or to do other things. Once you are mid career typically your life looks a lot different than it did when you were 22 and your career often needs to change too. That's ok. I want people to hear that. It is OK to change careers - you are not the same person you were 15 years ago!
You began working with clients after a career in HR - What surprised you the most about working with private clients?
As a consultant I was really lucky to have worked in a wide range of roles. I actually spent the 5 years before starting on my own working a lot with individual employees who I helped support in their return to work after injury, illness or leave. I got to work with both the employers to build programs and policies and procedures and then to see them in practice by working with the employees. I have also done resumes, cover letters and linkedin profiles since I was in university and got to really understand how ATS systems work and what employers look for in candidates.So Careerlove was just the first time I had put all my skills together in one official place.
There’s a lot of discussion about the importance of self-care (Eg taking time for a hot bath or going to the gym) for working moms, but there’s also pushback from some who say that it doesn’t recognize the enormous mental load that working moms face. Where do you fall on this debate?
First, I don't believe that self-care needs to be anything along the lines of bathing. For me it means saying no to an extra task or invitation if I am feeling burnt out. It is respecting that I am a lot of things to a lot of people and sometimes I can't be what you need at that moment and that is ok. I used to roll my eyes at the self-care industry - especially since I was doing such a crap job of taking care of myself. I don't like spas or yoga - that doesn't mean I don't take care of myself in other ways. I spend a lot of time spreading that message. I think it is important for people to hear in case they feel the same way!
You run a program called Ready to Return for moms to have support when going back after a baby. What’s the key transformation that women have in your course?
I remember asking myself when I was going back to work - why this felt so hard. My partner said to me - "because you have never done it before" and he was 100% correct. Even though I have helped over 800 people in their return to work journey almost every person I speak to feels anxious, alone and often times unsupported. Having peer support as well as expert support I feel is transformative. Almost EVERY OTHER single leave out there offers you support. If you are injured at work - workers compensation give you access to physio, massage, a case manager, someone who works with you and your employer to help make a plan (I know that person was ME!) But for maternity leave - you get NOTHING. Sometimes you don't even know your supervisor when you get back.
Ready to Return - you get support from others in the same space as you as well as the ability to tap into and be supported by not only me but lactation consultant, childcare experts, sleep experts, dieticican, post natel fitness specialist and more. I built the program I wanted and needed. I have had over 130 women through it in just over a year. It has been such a great experience.
I’ve seen you post a lot about the obstacles facing working moms - if you could change ONE thing about the workplace for working moms, what would it be?
I would bring back the repealed legislation about pay transparency. I firmly believe you should know how much you are being paid in relation to your peers. I think that closing the pay gap at this point is more important than flex work or an extra vacation day. It is a good place to start and I think then leads to bigger discussions around equality in the workplace.
I work with women who feel impostor syndrome and who are being given impostor messages, and I think this can be especially true for working moms. (For example, when a woman is told to not expect a VP level promotion because she has kids). What’s the biggest impostor syndrome you see in your work? What advice do you have for overcoming it?
So - for starters - being told not to expect a VP level promotion because you have kids is discrimination. I would document and report that immediately. I think it is important to distinguish what is imposter syndrome (which has a fair number of definitions at this stage) and what is anxiety or other emotions. When I work with people around these emotions I ask people to answer 3 questions 1) What do you want 2) What do you need to do to get there 3) What are you willing to do to get there. I round it off and look at how realistic it is.
For example - if you work for a family owned company who has never had a non family member as a VP and your goal is to be VP - I would have a serious discussion around how long your would be willing to wait for that and if you would be better served spending your energy on building your career elsewhere.
Every situation is multifaceted - as a consultant and as the daughter of a mother who taught her there were usually 5 sides to every story I can quickly break down how to move through situations and on with your life! Which is often just what people need to be propelled to the next level.
I often hear moms say that it’s impossible to do / have it “all” and that once you have kids, something has to fall off your plate. What do you think?
Shonda Rhimes said it best - "Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life." I missed my kid's kindergarten graduation while in the same week having big successes at work (I cried for 2 days because I missed it) . I spent a week at the children's hospital with my baby and had to turn down work and projects I had been waiting months for.(for the recod I would have wanted to be no where else) It will never be perfect. You will mess up. You will succeed. I focus on waking up each day and being thankful for the day I have a head of me. 2019 was personally one of the worst years on record for my little family's health. My business was doing great. I try to be VERY open about this struggle and is basically what my instargram account is all about.
What are your favourite blogs or Instagram accounts for working moms to follow?
The Washington Post - The lily is awesome. Mother Pukka for all her amazing efforts and writing. Celeste Barber for being hilarious.
I absolutely loved her answers, especially what she says about the importance of knowing what you want - so much in life comes down to truly knowing OURSELVES more than anything.