In a blog post on his personal site Tuesday, Max Schireson, the CEO of the software company MongoDB, announced that he was leaving his position because he couldn't continue to properly run the company in New York and support his family in California.
"Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood," Schireson wrote, citing recent high profile interviews with the CEO of GM or the CEO of Pepsi. "Somehow, the same people don't ask me."
"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," Schireson added, explaining that he loves spending time with his kids but doesn't love what he's missing when he's away from them because of his job. He also discussed the amount of work his wife – herself a doctor and a professor – does when he's gone.
Schireson will remain with the company as Vice Chairman, supporting MongoDB's new CEO. In an interview with Forbes, he said that choosing to spend time with his family (which is often a code phrase people use when they've been forced out) "is not a euphemism."
"I hope that me telling this story in my position will help others feel more comfortable in making similar choices," Schireson told The Today Show. "And help people in senior leadership roles be more public about it."
On his site, Schireson wrote that he's aware that this decision might put him out of the running "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.
The responses to his blog post are overwhelmingly positive; even his daughter wrote in to say, "I'm glad you will be able to spend more time with us at home. yayyyyy."
It's somewhat fascinating, however, to consider what the response would be if a woman did the same thing as Schireson; she'd probably be at the receiving end of concern from other women that she was giving up her career. (Though as Schireson touches on, women who focus too much on their careers are judged just as much. Women: they can't win.). But with regards to work-life balance, men and women are struggling to each be accepted for doing the thing the other one has traditionally done without notice or praise. Maybe eventually we'll meet in the middle.
Image via MongoDB/Facebook