Featured on The Cabro: Roshni Prem Sondhi

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I am thrilled to share with you all a new series – Featured on The Cabro. I’m honored to have met some incredible professional women in my career who also happen to be phenomenal mothers. They have inspiring stories to tell and I’m thrilled to bring them to you on The Cabro.

My inaugural feature is a high school classmate whose career trajectory and family life are incredible to watch. I reached out to her early on in my planning for The Cabro to ask if she’d be my frist interview. She agreed.

I look forward to more interviews and have a few great women lined up.

For now, let me introduce you to an incredible woman who’s doing great things in the tech industry down South.

Could you share some quick stats on who you are:

  • Name:  Roshni Prem Sondhi
  • Occupation and/or Industry:  VP of Customer Experience at Grafana Labs
  • Current city: Atlanta
  • Education:  Bachelors in Chemical Engineering, Georgia Tech
  • Years married:  13
  • Children:  6.5 year old boy and a 3.5 year old girl
  • Hobbies:  Cooking, traveling, working out, drinking wine

I run our post-sales organization, which consists of Professional Services, Customer Education, Customer Success and Technical Support. Our team is responsible for ensuring our customers have a great experience from implementation through many years of renewals.

What does your morning routine look like?

  • 6:15 My alarm goes off (with a snooze)
  • 6:20 Son’s alarm goes off (he’s learning to use one!)
  • 6:25 Kids up & getting ready (gym attire for me)
  • 6:40 Breakfast for the kids & get son’s lunch/snacks from the fridge
  • 7:00 Shoes on for everyone
  • 7:10 Leave for school
  • 7:20 Son dropped off at his elementary school
  • 7:40 Drop off our daughter at daycare
  • 8:00 20 minute walk with my husband
  • 8:30 Shower & get ready, husband makes me breakfast
  • 8:45 Start work day -I’ve already checked in online beforehand

What do evenings look like for you?

  • 5:30-5:40 I wrap up work for the time being and do a Peloton ride / lift
  • 6:00 Kids get home and go straight to shower
  • 6:15 Kids have dinner (yes, we eat separately and for the time being have different meals)
  • 6:45 Kids have finished dinner, and we do something together – magnatiles, puzzles, games and/or dance parties. Options are limited due to our 3.5 year old, but we make the best of it
  • 7:15 Kids go upstairs. They brush teeth, get a story or two. My daughter is lights off, and my son reads until 8:15 or so.
  • 8:00 My husband and I sit down to eat dinner. During the week, we eat dinner at our coffee table and watch easy TV while we chat. We are trying to get better to change that, but it works for us right now.
  • 8:45 Dishes are put away and I usually have my laptop out wrapping up emails, sending a delayed response to Slacks, and crossing items off my tactical to do list (personal & work)
  • 10:15 We go upstairs and get ready to bed
  • 10:30 We started a new routine of no phones in our bed – my husband keeps his in our vanity in the bathroom, mine is still next to me. We both read for about 20 minutes and then go to bed.
Roshni Prem Sondhi Grafana Labs

What is your current childcare set up? 

Pre-Summer, both kids were at the same private daycare. They offered a great in person kindergarten program for our son. Over the summer, our son attended a variety of summer camps while our daughter stayed in daycare. This fall, our son starts 1st grade at our local public school and will attend after school day care with his sister.

Would you share your favorite mom hacks?  

  1. Get the kids ready the night before with an easy to pack lunch in the fridge

2. When my husband travels, I wake up 20-30 minutes before the kids to shower and get ready – no morning walk that morning.

3. We have the kids help put their dishes and laundry away so that it’s easier for us\

4. Post it / Google Docs / Google Calendar:  

  • Post-its: I have two different colors of post-its on my desk. One for work and one for personal tactical items (ex: order XYZ birthday gift, write ABC an email about specific topic). This allows me to outline what is needed to get done, versus go down an Amazon rat hole when trying to by just a roll of paper towels.
  • Google Doc: On Monday mornings, I outline my strategic priorities on a Google Doc. I try to limit them to 3-5 (ideally 3) with the amount of time associated. These line up to my work priorities for the quarter. Then my EA ensures my calendar has protected time to work thru these items, and she holds me accountable by checking in on me midweek.
  • Google Calendar: If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist: kid activities, my work travel, husband’s work travel, social events.

How much do you outsource?

Outsource everything! 

  • Childcare: Setup is shared above. We use daycare teachers as sitters.
  • Mothers Helper: She’s wonderful. We started using her after we had our second daughter, and pre-COVID she came by weekly to fold our laundry, organize our basement and kid area. She also is our default babysitter.
  • Landscaping: Neither of us know how to do yard work nor enjoy it.
  • Shopping: We have an annual membership to Instacart and Amazon Prime Now. I can’t remember the last time I had to go to Costco. This helps with meal planning, made our grocery bill lower, and limits the number of errands during the weekend. We get Amazon boxes daily. It minimizes errands and I’m more intentional on what I need to buy.
  • Food: We tried different meal boxes but we both enjoy cooking too much. We have our regular menu for the weekdays –
    • Monday: Shrimp boil
    • Tuesday: Grilled salmon over mixed bean salad
    • Wednesday: taco bowl night
    • Thursday: salad or a crispy kale bowl with smoked salmon
    • Weekends: order takeout or try new recipes

What challenges have you experienced as a working mother and what did you do to overcome them?  

My start as a leader was in parallel to my start as a mother. I was promoted from an individual contributor to a manager 2 weeks prior to going out on mat leave with my first. At that time, there were a handful of women at a ~700 person company who were in leadership as a mom. This meant that I had to define what this looked like for me, which was hard. I had to set boundaries when I was on maternity leave (I wasn’t great at it my first leave but better by my second). I used to get asked 2-3 times a week if I was even coming back to work. And then a set of stay at home moms were asking me “why would you go back to work?” When having my second, I had different people assume I wouldn’t go back to work as “kids need their mothers.” I felt guilty sharing that I liked my work, and enjoyed what I do. Learning to find my voice as a working mom is something that took work and is continuously evolving. For the last 6 years, I have put blocks on my calendar for kid time .From time to time, I’ll have people book over that time without asking if I can make it work. I’ve learned to push back and not feel guilty. There will be times I’ll have to take a meeting, but those times should be few and far between.

Roshni Prem Sondhi Grafana Labs
Roshni Prem Sondhi Grafana Labs

How does your partner support your career? 

We know that the break between my work day and mom routine is needed. When he’s in town, he’ll do the kid pick up so that I can wrap up my work day and get a work out in. In the mornings, I go for a 20 minute walk and if I’m running late, he’ll get the kids ready.He also makes me breakfast and lunch, as my calendar is packed during the day.If I have work in the evenings, he’ll take on all the cooking / cleaning activities.We both travel for work. As soon as one of us has to travel, we put it on the other’s calendar. My husband ensures the kids know how hard I work and how they should be inspired.

How has being a mother helped you in your career?

  • Empathy: My previous team was filled with new parents. The empathy I had for them allowed them to be vulnerable and made the team camaraderie stronger. With this group of individuals, we worked on a “How to Welcome Working Parents back to Work” Guide.
  • Focus: There is only so much time in the day. I prioritize like crazy.

How has being a mother been challenging for your career?

I’m really lucky that my career has blossomed more since having kids. It’s given me the confidence to say “no” when needed. It hasn’t always been easy, but my kids come first. So, when I say no, my work understands. Three years ago, my daughter was turning one on the first day of Global Sales Kickoff in Vegas. One of my traditions is spending birthdays with the kids. I flew out to Vegas late, and it was just fine. My boss and team understood, and respected my decisions (given so many were new parents). I want to set a good example for working parents at my company, so try to do that in all of my actions And, all credit is due to my husband. He’s ensured I have the space and time to focus as needed.

Roshni Prem Sondhi Grafana Labs
Roshni Prem Sondhi Grafana Labs

What is your favorite tradition with your children?

Birthdays are a solo special day with me and the kids get a day off to go to the zoo, aquarium, parks, etc. We do breakfast bagels and dinner at a local pizzeria. During our last family vacation (where it was just the four of us), my son and I woke up early to see the sunrise at the beach. Also, I just did back to school shopping with my son, which will be the start of a new tradition for the kids and me.

What’s an unpopular opinion that you have about motherhood?

When I was pregnant with our son, I struggled that I would lose my identity. That doesn’t have to happen. We still go to interesting/nice restaurants, we still travel with kids to places that I want to go to, we have an active social life. It doesn’t have to be “Mom Rosh” against “Non-mom Rosh.” Now there is just Rosh, who is a mom, but also enjoys cooking, traveling, seeing friends, etc. Now, the kids are there for parts of it.

I also thought there was only a “right” way to be a mom. With my son this meant not having a c-section or only breastfeeding. Through my journey, I learned that there isn’t one right way – rather there’s a way that works for you, your baby, and your family.

Do you experience mom guilt and if so, how do you manage it?

ALL THE TIME.

During COVID, we kept our children in day care because they had very strict protocols and that childcare arrangement is what worked for us. During the height of the pandemic, my kids were home for a week. My husband and I split the days, and I would hear them having so much fun playing. I had a tremendous amount of guilt that I wasn’t there for each moment in their afternoon (my husband’s “time”). But, I then saw how happy they were to see me after that time, how great it is for them to have dedicated time with dad, and how it’s better for me to be there fully present versus halfway present. I think that’s the biggest thing I’m still working on – being fully present, all the time when I’m with the kids.

Anything else that you’d like to share that might encourage a community of working mothers?

Give yourself grace. Every day and every parent/child relationship is different. Trust that doing what is best for your kid, and give yourself grace daily.

When I was going on maternity leave, a CMO at my previous company told me this:

  • Plan a night away for yourself for after the baby is born and before you go back to work.
  • Plan a vacation for 90 days after you come back to work.
  • Plan a night away with your spouse in the first year of your baby’s birth.

I did #1 and #2, and neglected #3. I wish I had done #3 when I had my son, as we did it when we had our daughter, and it was great.

Thank you, Roshni, for sharing your career, family, and life with The Cabro.

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