Brown Bag: Continuing to grow your career while starting a family

Presentation by Martina Wan Lockwood
Written by Nusayba Sultana

SCWIST’s Brown Bag events are an opportunity to ‘lunch and learn’ with professional women from a variety of STEM fields. Visit our events calendar to register for our upcoming Brown Bags.

Martina Wan Lockwood, VP of Engineering and Product Development at Evasc, discussed how she juggled her career, while simultaneously growing her family.

Martina graduated from the University of British Columbia as a mechanical engineer and has worked in the biomedical field for 14 years. She later received her MBA, while becoming a mother of two. Since graduating, she’s grown her career at Evasc and is currently developing their main product–a brain implant to prevent aneurysm ruptures. In her spare time, she enjoys running and sports like swimming.

Balancing a Family and Career

There is no perfect time to start a family. In 2017, Martina was expecting her first baby as she began her MBA degree. Awaiting a new baby while also being in school came with some challenges, like the stigma of continuing her education and career with a baby on the way.

“Why devote your time outside of focusing on being a good parent?” she said some questioned her. 

Martina recalls her self-doubt when these concerns were brought up.

 “It almost made me think, ‘Am I being a good parent?’” she said.

Ultimately, Martina knew pursuing her MBA was something she wanted. But despite her optimism, she was faced with her fair share of challenges.

Martina found that finding time to raise her baby while finishing her school and returning to work was difficult. She wanted to make sure her school schedule was flexible, so that she has time to spend with her baby. 

She also emphasized the importance of finding time for yourself. For Martina, this meant doing something she enjoyed, like running. 

Martina returned to work after her maternity leave, while still in her MBA, and continued to face challenges. Daycare was hard to secure and good time management became even more important as she juggled work and family time. Life was getting busy! 

By coming up with flexible solutions, Martina was able to make it work. For example, she used her early mornings to study for school and later spend the rest of the day with her family. 

Martina successfully completed her MBA two years later, now with her second child born.

Martina’s Successes

Martina shared some of her successes from the time she spent trying to grow her family. She mentioned some of the activities she took on during maternity leave, including her time at SCWIST. 

“Now that I am going back on mat leave, all this effort I put in [for my education and career] is going to be lost…then I came across SCWIST!” Martina recalled.

Martina served as the Director of Business Development, which allowed her to continue to grow her career even while on maternity leave. Moreover, she mentioned the networking opportunities, and the new friendships, skills, and experiences she developed through her time at SCWIST. 

“With my added education and experiences, I was able to expand my role [at work] through this time, which was a lot more than I expected!” she said.

Martina also mentioned her new sense of confidence and empowerment upon returning to work full time after having children and completing her MBA. 

“There was quite a lot of negativity and questioning in the beginning as to why you want to continue growing your career while starting a family,” Martina said. 

“Coming out of it, I definitely knew it was the right decision and I’m glad I persevered through that.”

Lessons Learned

Martina shared three core lessons she learned from her experience with expanding her career while growing her family. The first was that sharing your goals with others is important. It holds you accountable but also makes your successes feel that much greater. 

Second, it is also important to be flexible and agile. Being able to come up with a plan, trying it out, and iterating is a good way to test out various strategies until one works the best. 

Finally, Martina highlights the importance of being kind to yourself while taking on new tasks of any shape or form. 

“If things don’t work out, which sometimes they don’t, it’s okay,” she said. 

Try to find time to enjoy your family and take time for yourself as well.

Normalizing Women’s Growing Careers

In closing, Martina reflected on the growing need to support women who choose to expand their careers while growing their families.

“There needs to be more support for women in their careers,” Martina said. 

“We should normalize this. Why can’t we as women still continue to grow our career and not be questioned, but rather supported?”

Don’t miss out – check out our events calendar to see all our upcoming networking events, workshops and speaker series or check out one of our other Brown Bag recaps on stress and the importance of self-care.