Why MongoDB CEO Max Schireson Quit Because He Couldn't Have It All
Max Schireson says no one ever asked about the demands of being a dad and a CEO.
— -- As the CEO of billion dollar database company MongoDB, Max Schireson said he was asked about business, his favorite music and what kind of car he drives.
What he was never asked, he said, is his other jobs -- what it was like to be a dad and husband.
In a candid blog post titled, "Why I am leaving the best job I ever had," Schireson talks about how he was never asked by the press about what it's like to balance work with his family life, unlike female CEOs, who have to answer questions about how they can be both good mothers and leaders.
"Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so," he wrote. "At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice."
Schireson said he is eager to step away from the frenetic pace of being a CEO and into a "normal full time" role as vice chairman at MongoDB, effective Sept. 3. Dev Ittycheria will take over as president and CEO.
Commuting between Palo Alto and New York every two to three weeks, along with "all the normal CEO travel," put Schireson on pace to fly over 300,000 miles this year.
"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," he wrote.
In a call with Forbes, Schireson said he had an ephiphany when his overnight flight to Austin had an emergency landing in Tucson – all while he slept. Exhausted, Schireson said he tried to catch up on sleep while the airline replaced some crew members who were traumatized by the experience.
"In that moment, I realized, 'What am I doing?'" he said.
Schireson's wife also has demanding careers as a doctor and professor at Stanford, where she runs a training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research. She does it all while being "a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me," he wrote.
"I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel," he wrote. "I should not continue abusing that patience."
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