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Male CEO Steps Down to Spend Time With Family

Topics: Current Events

When a woman quits her job to spend more time with family, no one bats an eye. When a man does the same, it’s news. Earlier this week, Max Schireson announced that he’d be leaving his role as CEO of MongoDB in order to travel less and be at home with his wife and children more. The shock that reverberated throughout the internet is proof, if we still needed any, that men and women have not achieved parity in the business world.

Max Schireson 

(Photo Credit: Max Schireson’s Facebook)

In a post on his blog, Schireson says as much:

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Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. 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.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself. Here is my situation:

* I have 3 wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.

* I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks. 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.

* I have an amazing wife who also has an important career; she is a doctor and professor at Stanford where, in addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research on on prematurity, surgical techniques, and other topics. She is a fantastic mom, 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.

Schireson will hand over CEO duties to Dev Ittycheria, co-founder and former CEO of BladeLogic, in one month’s time. He will stay on as MongoDB’s Vice Chairman and work “normal full-time, not crazy full-time,” in his words.

“I hope I will be able to find a way to craft a role at MongoDB which is engaging, impactful, and compatible with the most important responsibilities in my life,” Schireson writes. “As great as this job has been, I look forward to creating one which is even better.”

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think we’ll ever achieve gender equality at the executive level? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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JohnSMike NCharles ParkerExperiencedCisco Recent comment authors
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I congratulate Max on his decision to NOT spawn another generation of latch-key (electronic or physical) kids. Kids who aren’t physically fit, mentally healthy, with intact families. GOOD. FOR. YOU. MAX. I’m 55, married man of 30 years, 3 grown kids. I never regret a day or an hour I’ve spent with my kids and family (well, OK, that’s sort of B.S. and hyperbole, but you get the point). No one gets out of here alive, and time is short.… Read more »

Mike N
Mike N

While I don’t completely agree that is the only reason he left, as JohnS sais, there is always an underlying reason in the mix no one really knows about. However, the question asked of gender equality in at the executive level, I do not believe so in my personal opinion. My reason… While women make excellent CEO’s and upper level executives, it is not typical for a female to be in this role. It goes against natures role for a… Read more »


Complete BS. There only 2 reasons an executive in that position quits:1) he was about to be ousted by the board or 2) the company has some big problems that will drag him down if he stays. When they leave, they always write a goodbye memo to the employees that he left “to spend more time with the family”. Yeah, right.


No because the double standard is too ingrained. Kudos to him for realizing that children need both parents.


Good for him.
If you are lucky enough to be a father, the kids should be #2 priority, #1 being supporting and loving their mother.

Career, $ etc are all means to an end: family time.

Charles Parker
Charles Parker

No. Too many exceedingly well qualified and motivated women are driven away early in their careers!!

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