Q&A with Meredith Tehan

February 29, 2024, 04:02

She Runs It 2024 Working Mother of the Year

Earlier this month, Meredith Tehan, Senior Vice President of Sales at Cognitiv, was named one of She Runs It’s 2024 Working Mothers of the Year, in the New to Motherhood category. In today’s workplace, balancing career ambitions with family responsibilities is often a daunting task and her accomplishments and recognition in this area is no small feat.

Meredith’s story goes beyond achieving sales targets — it’s about reshaping company culture, advocating for diversity and inclusion, and leading by example for our team and her son, Nazaré. To help share her story and the impact she has had within Cognitiv and far beyond, I sat down for a Q&A session with Meredith.

Meredith, congratulations on being named one of She Runs It’s 2024 Working Mother of the Year in the New to Motherhood category! Can you tell us about your initial reaction when you found out about this prestigious recognition?

Thank you. I felt very honored to be recognized alongside this group of exceptional, successful women and working mothers. I love being a mom and take great pride in my work ethic, but sometimes juggling both of those things – being a full-time working parent – can be so challenging. It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough, you’re not balancing your roles well enough, and so to receive this recognition, well it’s something I’m going to hold on to when I have those challenging moments.

Balancing a successful career in sales with family responsibilities can be challenging. How do you carefully manage both areas?

It’s a very delicate balance that isn’t always easy to achieve. Knowing how to manage your time is crucial, and prioritization is key. It’s also important to learn how to delegate and rely on others for help. Hiring really talented team members that you can depend on and trust helps a lot with the balance.

In what ways do you believe your experience as a working mother has influenced your leadership style or approach to management?

I think every parent will tell you that their child has taught them patience and understanding, but it’s really interesting to see how much this has impacted me in the workplace. 

My son Naz is 4 and half, and every day it feels like he’s finding new aspects of his personality and figuring out his opinions and thoughts. Taking the time to understand who my son is and who he is becoming is something that has pretty seamlessly influenced my leadership style. I’ve found it’s so important to take the time to understand who my team is — who they are as individuals, so I can better understand their goals, needs, and working styles.

Diversity and inclusion are essential components of a thriving workplace. How do you advocate for these principles within your company?

Having hired a diverse group of people, with different backgrounds, lenses, experiences, careers — it’s an asset to our business, people who think differently. 

I don’t want everyone to be uniform in their approaches and problem-solving. I think it’s critical, and an advantage, to have people with different skill sets and backgrounds.

I also advocate for and initiate training programs for our sales team. I want them to grow as people and professionals, and expose them to different ways of thinking and learning through continued development opportunities. I’ve brought on a sales trainer that we work with regularly who focuses on psychology-based methods, which I think is a really interesting tactic for sales that isn’t typically thought about – it’s important for me to continuously find ways to push my team and help them grow.

How does Cognitiv support working parents, and what improvements would you like to see in the industry at large in this regard?

Cognitiv provides the flexibility to be present and show up for my family when needed, or even last minute, which is incredible.

As for improvements I would like to see our industry make — I think it’s respect for working parents, trust, and better boundaries in general. The pandemic showed our industry that we can be remote and still be very successful in our roles, but that’s really built with the trust of the organization and your team. That trust between employers and employees is what enables us to have that flexibility that is so needed as a working parent. It’s gotten to a different place than it was before the pandemic, but I’d like to see it continue to flourish within the industry because I know not everyone has a team like Cognitiv.

Being recognized as a trailblazer in your industry is no small feat. What advice would you give to other working mothers aspiring to achieve similar success?

I’m going to go back to balance here. Everything is a tradeoff. So, understanding that balance — the work/life balance, and how hard it is at times — but also knowing that at the end of the day, I am a “Ma” first. That’s what Naz calls me, he named me.

Also, knowing who you are, what you value, and what your goals are, and always being able to come back to those. There is an authenticity towards understanding why I am working so hard and the value I am creating for the organization and my own family . That’s something that drives me. 

What’s your favorite part about being a working mom, and what brings you the most joy in balancing these roles?

Vacation days! I’m kidding. Really there’s a lot, it’s hard to pick just one.

I love that I always have someone who celebrates me every time I walk in the door — whether it was an amazing day at work or a challenging day at work — there is someone who is always so excited to see me and it makes going into work every day that much easier. 

I also love that I get to lead by example and show my son my hard work ethic, and what it means to show up for something every day. 

It’s great that I can take the life lessons I teach Naz, and apply them to my own life and work day. It makes me a stronger, better, and more empathetic leader.

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