Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Isabel’s Story

After a long and well-deserved maternity leave, our Partner Success Associate Isabel Jana is returning to work at Stay22. As she has begun reintegration at the company, Isabel shares with us her experience of taking maternity leave and how it has changed her perspective on her career.

What is your role/territory at Stay22? I’m a Partner Success Associate at Stay22. I make sure our partners get the most they can from our technology, and equip them with the tools to optimize their revenue, their UX, and monetize every drop of travel intent their user base has. The team is always creating new tools for us to be the best at what we do. Ensuring we have a good line of communication with our partners helps us understand what they need. Once we have what they need, I’m here to deliver and help with the unboxing.

What was it like to step away from your role at Stay22 to focus on your family? I take pride in what I do, and I don’t like to half-ass my work. So stepping away was necessary - no one stays sharp when sleep deprived ! Everyone made it super easy for me, the team threw me a little baby shower before I left. My Hubspot access was revoked because I was not trusted to not attempt to work… but I was always welcome to send the occasional slack message to colleagues. That was really nice. It’s easy to feel disconnected after the birth of a child but I felt very supported. Stepping away was also completely natural. There is nothing more important than family to me, and it was a unique time in my life to be completely dedicated to the kids. It was a hectic time too. We ended up moving across the Atlantic unexpectedly.

What were a few of your favorite moments on your leave? Seeing both my kids form a bond is the absolute greatest feeling in the world. The eldest likes to hold the baby’s hand or stroke their hair when they’re riding together in the pushchair. Family time just chilling all together in bed and having lots of laughs at six in the morning is also the best way to start the day / end a bad night in a good mood.

What did you miss about Stay22 while on leave? Mostly, my colleagues. We’re a tight knit bunch, it often feels like working with friends all day. I missed meeting new people everyday too. We work with such a beautiful diversity of partners from all over the world and from different industries, there is never a boring day.

What are you most looking forward to returning to post maternity leave? More structure and routine. Working for a small company, and this is intensely true at Stay22, things change all the time. Tasks always need to be reprioritized, objectives keep shifting. We’re always dancing with the instability of affiliate marketing. But parents will know : that crazy ride is nothing compared to parenthood. Being able to sit down and focus on one thing for an extended period of time feels good, like going on a nice long hike instead of doing impromptu HIIT workouts all day.

Are there any lessons or realizations you discovered about yourself and your career while away? Parenthood, and more specifically motherhood, is completely compatible with ambition. In fact I started to flourish professionally after I had my first. Parenting skills are transferable skills. Feeling confident professionally makes me more confident with my children. It is essential for me to set the same standards for myself as the standards I hope my kids will have later in life: work hard, keep learning, work with good people, work for people who recognise your value.

Do you have any advice for other women embarking on the same journey? Don’t let anyone tell you maternity leave is the same thing as a vacation. Having children is not a set-back. They are tiny cannon balls of energy who can propulse you forward (when they let you sleep). Talk with other mums - whatever you are feeling or thinking, no matter how unsayable, you are not alone. And mums are still humans too, you will feel like a fully functioning woman again, I promise.

So welcome back Isabel! And we are excited that many of you will have the opportunity to cross paths with her in the near future!