As we head into celebrating Mother’s Day this Sunday, all of us at Bill.com wanted to pay homage to the moms who have shaped and continue to shape our company culture. To best represent who they are, we sat down and spoke with four mothers on the life lessons they’ve learned and instilled in their children.
Balance Is What You Make It
In early 2020, Cheyenne Welton, an instructional designer on the Bill.com customer support team, gave birth to a baby girl, Sydney. She quickly made the same discovery that three other Bill.com mothers, and countless others, already knew: that the quest for work/life balance was an illusion.
As a mom, Jackie Hendy, Senior VP of Human Resources at Bill.com, discovered that talk of “balance” served no purpose. She explained, “Don’t buy into that. That’s the reality. You are not going to find balance if you are committed to a career in high-tech. Prioritize. Sometimes that comes on Mondays or Fridays. Sometimes that comes on the weekends. You constantly have to be juggling in your role as a parent and working professional. [I was] very clear with the children that I was not going to be a PTA mom.”
For Manasa Murthy, VP of Engineering at Bill.com, this realization took two forms: first, that the early years of motherhood would be exhausting no matter what. Second, that there was “no ideal mother” and pressure generated by filter-perfect social media had to be nipped in the bud.
Don’t Be Afraid to Bring Your Work Home and Just Go for It
Long before small businesses relied on Instagram and Facebook marketing campaigns to launch new products, Karen Lacerte, mother of Bill.com CEO and Founder, René Lacerte, worked with her husband, Grant, to build two businesses from the ground up. A generation prior, René’s grandma, Rita, worked as an entrepreneur, handling the accounting and general finances for every venture launched with her husband, Arcel Leon Lacerte.
Whether it was writing a book on statistical analysis or challenging what were at the time traditional gender roles, Karen instilled one important family rule that her sons, René and Grant, still follow to this day: include your children in work-related conversations at the dinner table.
Cheyenne Welton’s mother, Karen, also brought work home — in the form of college courses. Karen chose to return to college in her 30s to finish her associate degree and used her biology dissection classes as a way to engage with her then five-year-old daughter. Cheyenne would not only practice but quiz her mom on anatomy terms, helping her to complete her degree.
Manasa Murthy’s mother, Gayathri, modeled a “go for it” philosophy. “From when I was 11 all the way to 18, my mom would give me a budget and ask me to figure out what I wanted for my birthdays,” Manasa said in an interview. “I’d choose all kinds of things ranging from a music record collection, to fancy clothing, to a party with my friends.”
Freedom to Fail
In Winter Haven, Florida, a city known for its canal-linked Chain of Lakes, Karen gave her children a gift: the freedom to fail. This gift manifested in never punishing the children if they failed but instead celebrating that they tried. Karen and her husband demonstrated that failure was the pathway to success. If René didn’t win at a swim meet, “So what?” He’d win the next race. When René worked to overcome a stutter, Karen encouraged and reminded him that nothing is learned from being perfect.
Cheyenne Welton’s mom embodied determination. “If you don’t go after something, you’ll never attain it,” Cheyenne learned. “The answer is always ‘No’ if you don't ask the questions. If you don’t attain the goal, you’ll be better equipped with tools for the next time.” Applied to her job at Bill.com, Cheyenne went for it when the instructional design opportunity arose.
Prior to working at Bill.com, Manasa was presented with a director-level opportunity at Intuit. She hesitated, telling herself that she wasn’t ready to handle the stress, that she didn’t have enough years of experience. With encouragement, she made the jump and has continued to rise ever since.
It was fear of the unknown that almost side-tracked her. Ever since, “My mantra has been to not say no to anything until you have proof that it will be the last straw that breaks your back,” Manasa shared. “It sounds intense, but once you know it is too much to handle, you can always reduce from where you started. However, the opportunity just knocks once.”
Bill’ding Mom-centric Company Culture
A company’s culture starts with leadership. At Bill.com, that leadership can be traced back to the dinner table where Karen Lacerte and extended family led conversations with her sons on the importance of hard work, diversity, inclusion, and quality time with loved ones. “Be kind” and “appreciate diversity” were not only topics of conversation, but were reflected in how both mothers — Rita and Karen — partnered with their husbands to build companies where diversity was put into practice. Likewise, the “humble” and “fun” culture can be traced back to the Lacerte family spending time outdoors and enjoying the arts, especially music.
In an interview, Cheyenne Welton highlighted the Bill.com work culture and her managers’ emphasis on putting herself first. “Whenever something would arise, when I needed to be offline or take care of something, I always had managers who supported me.” This culture is set by leaders, from managers to executives.
Thank You, Moms
On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the beautiful moments, lessons, and impact mothers have on their children and the world:
From Karen, who fondly remembers René as “a ‘go-getter’ even as a little baby. Not a good sleeper, he would self-soothe by rocking himself to bed (a self-starter for sure, taking the initiative from the earliest age, a sign of a CEO-to-be?).
To Cheyenne, juggling her daughter on one hip while taking Zoom calls, reminding herself that her daughter “will never be this little again” and taking a deep breath to enjoy these tender years.
Or Manasa, celebrating how her mother encouraged her to take charge, whether with birthday party planning or pursuing her dreams.
Or Jackie, sharing how being a mother informs her advocacy for more flexibility and choice at the e-team level — and how she advocates for employees to integrate motherhood (and fatherhood) into their lives.
To all mothers, we thank you and wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day.Love,