Male CEO Chooses His Family Over His Job

Illustration for article titled Male CEO Chooses His Family Over His Job

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



My Dad has worked in the management ranks of the financial sector for most of my life. He retired last year because it was too much for him. Just far too much at his age. He had a lot of money to spend and no time to spend it. What was the point of earning if he couldn't enjoy it?

A similar situation happened when my Dad quit his job and did freelance work while my mom went back to work. Mom was a miserable SAHM. Dad loved spending time with us - especially since prior to this, we had rarely seen him. I loved the time we got to spend together and while in the late 80s/early 90s being Mr. Mom was unusual and he sometimes got stupid comments, he has said again and again, it was the right thing. When we both made it into school, he went back into the workforce. The move wasn't permanent but it was good for our family.

I am glad this guy had the courage to do the same thing - for his family. I hate the assumption that the woman should always be the one to pay attention or make a sacrifice. Both parents have options. They should explore those options. Mom should not be the default here.