Meet my mom friend: Prashanthi Rao Raman, Director, Government Affairs
I’m thrilled to introduce you to Prashanthi, someone who immediately comes to mind when I think, “ultimate, badass, working mom.” I was curious how she and her husband have been managing parenting, caregiving, working and making time for themselves during this period.
Before I turn it over to Prashanthi for some questions, here’s a snippet from her Top 100 Magazine profile:
“As an established attorney and public policy executive, Prashanthi Raman has nearly 15 years of experience navigating challenging, highly charged, and complex political environments. Prashanthi currently serves as the head of global government affairs for Cruise, an all-electric autonomous vehicle company, where she oversees global public policies and regulatory issues. Prior to her role at Cruise, Prashanthi was the head of state and local government relations at Lyft, a transportation network company.” 🙌
Can you share a little about background?
First off, thanks so much for considering me to feature in your beautiful and very real newsletter. We’ve all been figuring out ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones and your Love, Mishka series makes us pause for a second and realize there are still humans out there.
So… a little bit about me. We live in San Francisco and my girls will be five (Ria) and two (Iyla) in October. My husband, Roshan, and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary this year and looking back, we’ve ping ponged across the country from Chicago to New York back to Chicago to San Francisco to Chicago and back to San Francisco. Apparently, we like to make it hard on ourselves and move every two years! I’m a proud Chicagoan and many of my connections (including you, Dharma) are from my time in Chicago. CHI-TOWN!
What has been the toughest challenge in terms of managing your work and home life?
You want me to limit that to one challenge? HA! COVID-19 has taken an already hard “balance” of work/life and turned it on its head. I think the hardest challenge has been there is no punctuation to the day anymore. You go from waking up to parenting to working to parenting and then rinse and repeat the next day, and the next week and the next month… for several months. There is just no pause in your day. You don’t have your commute home to take a breath and have that space to transition from one part of your life to the next. You don’t have a change of scenery to appreciate being home because, well, you’re always at home. I used to be out of town with work travel, but now I miss it because it gave me moments to THINK.
How are you and your husband managing the girls alongside work? Do you have help? Has your work been accommodating?
Roshan and I have been doing what many of you all have been doing: surviving. As the pandemic started, we had our live-in nanny for 3.5 years to help us continue working. The benefit of having someone who has been with you for a long time is that familiarity for the girls and for you. During those 3.5 years though, we also helped her get through nursing school and helped her take and pass her boards. While we needed her to stay, we also knew that her being called to the line of duty during this unprecedented time was where she needed to be and where she wanted to be in the next step of her career.
Roshan and I looked at each other on her last day and we panicked. How were we going to do it all? So, we did what any logical pair of humans would do - we booked a flight leaving in 2 hours to Chicago, packed up what we could and left. We quarantined on the other side and then stayed with my parents for the entire summer. While they couldn’t help the entire day, we were able to get some relief for the solid 5 overlapping hours of time that we just NEEDED to work. I would take morning duty and Roshan would take late afternoon/evening duty and we just sort of made it work.
I also started a new job at the end of March - after being at Lyft for 5.5 years. There was comfort in that environment and I had “earned my keep” so to speak. Luckily my manager at Cruise is someone I worked for at Lyft so he knew me and I knew him. He has been nothing but supportive, understanding and willing to give whatever time I need, adjust my working schedule, allow me to take some days off and has never once made me feel like I couldn’t STILL do it all and still elevate my career. I’ll forever be grateful for that. The company has also been accommodating for parents alike knowing that everyone’s individual situation is unique.
What are some things you want your two little girls growing up knowing chasing their career dreams?
Find something that you are passionate about and combine it with something you are good at but that keeps you challenged. It’s funny, when I went to law school, I knew I didn’t want to practice law. Yet, I graduated law school and went to a law firm and struggled with its environment and sitting behind a desk all day. I did not love it one bit. Instead of listening to myself from the beginning, I followed what I thought I was supposed to do. It wasn’t until seven years later that I felt confident enough and had the opportunity to go into policy and government affairs work. While that time provided me some invaluable lessons, I want my girls to listen to their intuition - it really doesn’t lead you wrong.
Do you find yourself feeling guilty?
Always! I find that I either feel guilty about not being enough of a present or creative mom or I feel guilty about not being able to give 100% to work, particularly when you see individuals able to respond to emails faster or “raise their hand” for the next project. I do not know if I overcome it, per se, but I do reconcile that this is where I am right now. While I am an incredibly ambitious person and want to be ALL OF THE THINGS, I also know that this time in the girls’ lives is so important. I also equally know that mommy not being everything also benefits the girls in the long-run so it’s important for them to see me working and “being a boss,” as Ria likes to say.
The million dollar question: How do you make time for yourself? What are some things you like to indulge in, in terms of self-care?
Time - it’s the one thing you never get back, so they say. Many days, I find myself chasing time. I went to Miraval between jobs and before Shelter in Place went into effect. It was a full week of me - not with kids, not with a husband, with no email to check. Device-free for much of the day - it was such a great release. It reminded me how I need to take some time to meditate, workout and yes, do a face mask or two a week. So that’s what I do - I try to meditate a few times a week, run or do a Peloton ride and then take care of my skin. Heck, if I have time to wash my face on a nightly basis, I call that a win!
A little controversial to ask, but of course I will: What do you miss most about pre-mom life?
Making me get all vulnerable here! I miss two things:
1) My pre-mom body
Sorry for the vain comment, but I have seen a lot of my girlfriends bounce back and I haven’t been able to in a meaningful way. It messes with my confidence and makes me long for those pre-mom days. But again, it is what it is right now - doesn’t mean that I won’t try but I also know I’ll be miserable beating myself up about it.
2) Me time
I used to tell Roshan before kids, I just need some alone time. It was critical for me to feel rejuvenated. Those who know me would be shocked that I do not want to be around people all the time - but I need that time to “fill up” again. I just don’t get any of that anymore. This time I’m answering these questions is about the amount of Me time I’ll get for the week.
Any self-care you include your girls in? Any special routines you guys have or products you guys like to use?
Iyla is still a little young for the products (although she does find my eyeshadow palette and goes to town with it) but Ria and I loved to get our nails done - pre-COVID. Now, she and I just do self-pedicures and manicures. I do encourage the girls to have some relaxation time with bubble baths (lavender scented, of course). Ria has a lot of allergies so I am very careful about the products we use. Everything has coconut in it these days. But reading the Love, Miksha series definitely is giving me ideas for face masks. So, next movie night will be - Mask and Movie night.
Is there anything you’d like to share with Love, Mishka readers?
We are all dealing with these crazy times in our own way. Whether it’s dealing with the pandemic, air quality, systemic racial injustice, or the upcoming presidential election, there is A LOT going on. Take some time to process how it's all affecting you. And take those moments of levity to heart, because we all need to laugh and just “be” more. Finally, I would be remiss to not say, do something for yourself - whether it’s ideas from Love, Mishka or elsewhere - find whatever gets you through the day and honor yourself. We deserve it.