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CEO Quits Dream Job to Be a Better Dad

Software CEO quits to become a better dad

Last month, Matt Lauer really stirred things up with his now-infamous Mary Barra interview. In it, he asked GM's new CEO if she was finding it hard to be both Super Mom and Super CEO at the same time.

But while we were all busy fixating on Matt's line of questioning, and whether or not he would ever dare ask a male CEO the same question, Max Schireson – one such male CEO and dad of three – was busy asking himself that very same thing, since no one else would.

"As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO," he later wrote on his personal blog.

So when he finally turned the question on himself, he thought about it long and hard. Soon, Schireson found himself handing in his resignation, realizing that while his gig as CEO of the software company MongoDB was everything he'd ever wanted, he was paying a major price for it at home.

With the company's headquarters in New York and Schireson's homefront in California, he found himself traveling some 300,000 miles a year just to keep it all together. But while he saw his company's growth skyrocket over the last four years – raising $220 million, growing sales by 30x and his own team by 15x – he couldn't help but be dogged by the moments he missed with his three kids.

"During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery," wrote Schireson.

The dad also tipped his hat to his "amazing" wife, who somehow manages to keep up a successful career in medicine, teach at Stanford, and run the household while her husband is away. "She is a fantastic mom," writes Schireson. "Brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me. I love her, I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience."

So this month, he turns the torch over to a new CEO, Dev Ittycheria, and he steps down into a smaller, less important one that will allow him to spend the time with his family he so desperately wants to get back.

"I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice."

Needless to say, Schireson's blog has sparked many reactions across the Web in the last few days.

Some have questioned why this is even headline news; others claim that the fact that it is is a good sign for female execs everywhere.

One thing's for sure, though: it's definitely opening up the conversation when it comes to that ever-elusive work-life balance.

"It's time for the 'having it all' debate to move beyond gender," writes Laura Laurenzetti on Fortune. The math is the same, as Schireson concludes, whether you’re male or female."

We second that.

Photo via MaxSchireson.com

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