Jessica Smith, a 2002 industrial engineering graduate of West Virginia University, will be coming back to campus to speak to the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 5 p.m., in Room 204 of the Mineral Resources Building. She will be talking about her career path, being a woman in the workplace and the challenges of being a working mother.
Smith, a mother of three, has been with Deloitte since 2004, first working as a consultant and then moving into finance and administration. In addition to her primary role, she also serves as the chairperson of her division’s Work-Life Fit Committee, part of Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative, which is focused on the retention and advancement of women. The Work-Life Fit program is committed to employee’s wellbeing and their choices for flexibility.
Smith herself has been the beneficiary of these programs. When she started as a consultant in the strategy and operations practice, her potential was quickly identified and she was promoted through the ranks to senior manager.
After more than seven years of being “on the road,” Smith decided to start a family with her husband, Aaron (civil engineering 2002, 2004). Smith transitioned her skills into finance and administration and was able to start working from her home in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“I had to change my career path a bit,” admitted Smith, “but I’m very fortunate to be working at home in a challenging role.”
Smith gave birth to her third child, Josette, in December, one month after accepting a new position within finance and administration. She was able to take a six-month maternity leave and is enjoying the time she is able to spend with her family while on leave.
“It gives us all time to adjust,” said Smith. “Wyatt (her oldest son) is used to much of my attention and Sadie (her middle daughter) tags right along. But with the arrival of Josette, it feels like they have grown up overnight.”
Given the timing of her maternity leave, Smith had to accept that she would not be able to transition into her new position with the vigor she normally would.
“It was an internal struggle. I couldn’t hit the ground running like I wanted to,” she said. “I had to tell myself that it’s OK. Not only was I taking on a new role at work, my role at home was going to be changing too with the arrival of our third child. In order to succeed at both, I would need a little more time.”
Now, she can learn how to work in her daily routine with a third child at home.
“Usually, the kids wake up at 6 a.m., and we have breakfast and playtime for a couple of hours before I start work at 8 a.m. I work until 6 p.m., and then we have dinner, more playtime and our bedtime routine,” Smith explained.
“The evenings are special to us. That’s when we really are able to spend quality time together,” said Smith. “In fact, Wyatt will tell me to close my laptop in the evenings if I am trying to finish up a few work items and play with him instead.”
It’s in these moments where Smith is reminded that she is a mother first.
“It’s a daily struggle. I could be a full-time stay-at-home mom or a solely a career-minded woman,” Smith revealed. “I’m blessed to have the best of both; I can work from home and can still be here to kiss the boo-boos.”
Though she has not been in a formal engineering position since her first job at FedEx, she knows her engineering education at WVU helped her become a problem solver.
“I try to see the big picture and be analytical,” said Smith.
She also has WVU to thank for helping her find her husband. The two met in an electrical engineering class their senior year.
The work-from-home mom says she hopes her children see the value of hard work through her example. She chose to make her work and home life fit together while being successful at both.
“I hope my children see they can do both too,” said Smith.
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.