Few of us will ever be as productive as Lisa Joy Rosner, who gave birth four times in a single four-year stretch while concurrently launching two high-tech startups. She learned that she was pregnant with her first child the very day she announced the sale of the company that employed her. Becoming a mother was her pivotal moment of personal and career reinvention, precipitating a reevaluation of priorities, and practical changes to become more efficient at planning and execution as an aid to facilitating work-life balance.
A unique season even for her, that four year period is still a window open on her approach to life and career. Rosner’s is a ‘Flip Family’—she is the full time breadwinner while her husband is the full-time home manager. She is upfront about her dual roles as Mom and CMO (most recently Neustar), and clear about the emphasis she places on family, routinely incorporating anecdotes or photos of her children into her presentations.
Rosner is a genuine role-model, on a mission not only to tell, but to show, the upcoming generation of mothers how you can have both family and career, even as a high-level executive; it need not be an either/or. Balance and priorities are always clearly in evidence; when asked what her biggest goal is at present, she gives not one, but two. One is related to her work as an award-winning B2B CMO having guided her company through brand transformation; the other, to ensure that her children are being well-educated with a unique plan for each.
Her career path has been somewhat unconventional, even in a workplace characterized by the decline of conventional careers. Armed with a new BA in English Literature, she spent a year in New Zealand selling advertising for a radio station. She returned to the US, intending to go back to school and pursue a PhD with an end goal of teaching English Lit in a university setting. But living in the Bay Area, needing to work for a year before school started, she submitted her resume to Oracle ORCL -0.68%, located nearby. The resume landed with someone in human resources who was about to travel to New Zealand, a serendipitous point of connection that helped put Rosner in a job as the executive admin for the vice president of marketing. She soon realized that his was the job she ultimately wanted, or at least, a career as a marketing executive. By age 29, she was head of marketing at a startup and has certainly never looked back.
While at the start-up she met Bob Runge, the CMO at Pivotal Software, a company she was eager to win over as a customer and business partner. Rosner credits him for pushing her to see her strength, while also understanding the value of customers, teamwork and family. Years after he left BroadVision, one of his launches, he recommended Rosner to the company’s CEO, to lead the marketing division. She credits his advocacy with helping her land the job that has become the springboard to all she has since achieved. Networking, she would tell you, is an important key to a successful career.
Rosner works to advance equal opportunity for women in the workplace and ‘every-place for that matter . Neustar was recently named #6 on the list of the top 25 companies that are great places for women to work. In tandem with Lisa Hook, CEO of Neustar, Rosner sponsored training for women in high school and college and she sits on the Board of UC Merced, the newest institution in the California system of higher education.
The best piece of advice she offers came to her from her grandfather, Hy Rosner: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so be confident and ask for what you want, because chances are the answer will be yes.”
This post originally published at Forbes