Working Mum Wisdom issue #2: Julie Nguyen, mum of 2 and founder of Crunchmoms
"Focus on realistic goals, it's a long career journey so if you're learning and growing, you're on the right track"
This is the second issue of Working Mum Wisdom, the first one featured Sandhya Lalloo-Morar, mum, costumer designer and mumpreneur. I got some really great feedback from that interview; of course I am not surprised, Sandhya is truly inspiring. There is so much we can learn from each other, which is the whole idea behind this community.
Today’s issue features another amazing working mum Julie Nguyen, Founder of Dubai-based Crunchmoms. Navigating a career after becoming a mum is always challenging and Julie’s mission with Crunchmoms is to support all mums in their careers and motherhood, no matter what stage they are at.
I found Julie through Instagram as I follow Crunchmoms and I was delighted that when I told her about my newsletter, she agreed to participate in this series. She represents the feeling of a true community we can all be part of should we choose to. Here’s my chat with her.
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself (work, family and personal interests/hobbies)
Born and raised in Austin, Texas. I'm American with Vietnamese roots and raised in Texas. I graduated from University of Texas in Austin and studied economics and business, and grew up surrounded by the tech and entrepreneurial environment in Austin. My husband is from Pakistan and together we have a toddler and are expecting a second baby in March 2022. In my free time, I exercise as often as I can, enjoy traveling, and in the past, I used to scuba dive when I could.
Q. You are a mum to an almost 3-year old, pregnant with number 2, and founder of Crunchmoms. How do you do it all?!
I definitely don't do it all. I focus on my priorities and do my best to do it to the best of my ability. My priorities are my family, staying healthy and active, and building a startup called Crunchmoms.
Q. What is your ultimate life goal as a working mum?
I have always been career-oriented and ambitious. I spent 12+ years in corporate, working in global marketing, innovation, and digital transformation roles in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Amsterdam. Now as a working mum, my priorities have changed but my ambition is still there and strong. I want to be there for my kids and family while staying as focused on growing as a professional and a startup rather than working in a corporate environment. I could absolutely see myself going back to the corporate world one day as I enjoyed it a lot but while I'm having more kids, and my husband and I are raising young kids, I will continue to focus on the entrepreneurial side of my career.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
I get constant energy and inspiration from the work I do, the talented team I'm working with, and I am always learning from the women in our community. Motherhood has not stopped a lot of women from pursuing great things in their careers and it pushes me as an individual and for the Crunchmoms business.
Q. What is your best productivity hack?
I set a theme for each day where I focus my work. As an entrepreneur, you have to do all aspects of the business and it's easy to get overwhelmed. One day is focused on the community, another on brand and marketing, then partnerships, financing, etc. I start four days of the week with a 6:30 am workout to have the energy to start early and focus.
Q. What is your parenting mantra?
I was without help the first year and spent a lot of time with my son as I didn't have my own family around. Now that he's more independent, I adopt a lot of Montessori approaches and work closely with our nanny to ensure he has the right environment to learn and play on his own while I work. I dedicate certain times and days of the week to him, for instance, Friday is purely for him.
Q. What do you do in your 'me-time' and how does it help you?
I need exercise in my life. At one point in the startup, I stopped exercising and I noticed my energy levels and productivity dropped significantly. I also consider my sleep and a bit of TV before sleeping my 'me-time'. I don't do it often and when I do, it's a nice time to not think about anything at all when the house is quiet. I need my sleep and exercise and for now, that's enough me-time that keeps me happy!
Q. What is your biggest challenge as a working mum? What are you doing to overcome it?
At the start of motherhood with a young baby, my biggest personal challenge was having the flexibility to be home with my baby and in the office within their set timings. I overcame this by going full-time with my startup to have my own flexibility. My current challenge is keeping my focus on the work that is important to Crunchmoms rather than pleasing and answering all emails and collaboration opportunities. It is important for me to be available as it's in my values and nature to be a helpful person but right now it's also important for me to spend my time focused on where the growth opportunities are for the startup since my time will be limited with a new baby soon. Ask me again in 3-4 months!
Q. Tell us a bit about Crunchmoms and what inspired its launch.
Crunchmoms is a community and the first and only professional platform in the Middle East for women at all stages of their career and motherhood. The inspiration came from my own pain point of navigating my career ambitions after becoming a mother. The more women I spoke to the more I realized they all went through it and continue to go through it after having kids. There was no support system or network for this so we decided to create it ourselves. There is no one size fits all answer to the problem we're trying to solve, we want to be part of the solution to this.
Q. You have a background in communications and public relations (PR), what compelled you to take the leap into entrepreneurship?
I started my career in PR and communications working for technology companies. After 4-5 years in this field, I progressed towards marketing which eventually led to working in innovation and digital transformation. In one of my last positions, I was part of a global team in Amsterdam responsible for the company's digital transformation in a very fragmented industry that's slow to adopt technology within the business and its solutions. The role was super entrepreneurial in nature which led to my entrepreneurial leap shortly after.
Q. What's it like being a mumpreneur?
You learn the value of time way more when you're a mom and entrepreneur. It's been the biggest learning curve starting a business and so far, worth it!
Q. What is your advice to new mums looking to start working again?
Stay active and focused when you can. Don't be hard on yourself and if there is a career gap, try to fill that by upskilling, volunteering, and keeping your network active and growing. Focus on realistic goals, it's a long career journey so if you're learning and growing, you're on the right track. The longer time spent away from work, the harder it is to get back.
Q. Favourite tool that makes your life easier?
Q. Parenting book / advice that was a game changer for you?
Yes, You Can Do This! by Claudia Reuter - she's a good friend and shares a lot of valuable advice for mothers and entrepreneurs!
Q. Best thing you have read or watched lately
I'm so short for time but I always love listening to How I Built This podcast by Guy Raz!
Q. Favourite quote
“Lead your own destiny or someone else will.” - Jack Welch
I am constantly inspired by working mums like Julie, and every single one of you in this community.
If you have any questions or comments for Julie, do leave a comment here or hit reply and I will make sure she gets your message. You can also reach her through the Crunchmoms website.
If you enjoyed this and feel like someone else can benefit from this conversation or this community, please share!
Have a superb week.