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“Lower your expectations.” With Penny Bauder & Becky Schroeder

Lower your expectations for what you will be able to accomplish in a day. It will take longer to finish a project than you would like, certainly longer than it would before this situation. Practice grace with yourself. Recognize when you need to take a break from the current moment. Ask for help when you […]

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Lower your expectations for what you will be able to accomplish in a day. It will take longer to finish a project than you would like, certainly longer than it would before this situation. Practice grace with yourself. Recognize when you need to take a break from the current moment. Ask for help when you need it.


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Becky Schroeder.

ITC’s Chief Marketing Officer Becky Schroeder is responsible for facilitating ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Idecided to pursue my bachelor’s degree in journalism because writing always came naturally to me and I felt like journalism was a more pragmatic choice than an English degree. In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I realized I didn’t want to be a reporter, and heeding my advisor’s words of wisdom, I looked into public relations. The combination of writing and communication with business felt like the right path. After earning my master’s degree, I did get a job in public relations at an agency in Dallas. I spent the first years of my career focused on this discipline. Eventually, I recognized that while I could have a great career in public relations, it’s not what I really wanted to be doing. Public relations was one piece of marketing, and it was nice to be contributing to that piece. But, I wanted to be driving the direction of all the pieces. After a few years doing marketing for an accounting firm, I found Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), and it’s been home ever since. That was nearly nine years ago.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

One of the most interesting periods for me since I started at ITC was the year I spent on the sales side of the company. I managed the entire sales organization in addition to the marketing organization for that year. The whole year was a blur as there was so much going on. But the best part of that year is the new perspective on the business that I got, which helped prepare me for my current role.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re building out a lot of different campaigns to use in conjunction with our paid media partners to help engage and educate more of our target audience. I expect it will help our target audience learn about ways they can improve their marketing or operations, which will help them to grow their businesses, even if they never become a client of ITC.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Laird Rixford, CEO of ITC. He has always believed in me and my abilities. Over the years he has been generous in the advice and guidance he has given me. I would not have had the courage to take on the challenges that I have in my career without his support and encouragement.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

For me, the biggest challenge is balancing work and being a wife/mom, literally at the same time. Balancing the two parts of my life is always challenging. Now it is intensified by the fact that we’re home together all the time. There is no separation. Work is at home and home is at work. All day, every day. My kids are young, so it’s hard for them to understand when Mommy needs to work and why I can’t always be helping them with stuff. And, on top of that, I’m also helping my oldest with her schoolwork. I feel like my attention is constantly divided and therefore my productivity both at work and at home is suffering.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I’m still getting up at my normal time every day. And since that is so much earlier than the rest of my family, I get about an hour to an hour and a half head start on my work. Throughout the rest of the day, it’s a lot of self-talk and reminders to practice grace with myself and others. That giving them extra screen time than I normally would is okay. That the only person with such high expectations of me is myself. That it’s okay to not finish everything.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?

The work-related challenges I’m currently facing aren’t because I’m a woman. Right when we closed our office because of the pandemic, I had two brand-new people on my team. Onboarding them in this situation has been a big challenge.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

We do regular check-ins via Microsoft Teams video conferencing so we can talk about projects and priorities. I’ve also held meetings with my entire team once a week. There is no set agenda and we often don’t talk about specific projects at all. I use this time for us to bond as a team as we would be doing if we were in the office together.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Lower your expectations for what you will be able to accomplish in a day. It will take longer to finish a project than you would like, certainly longer than it would before this situation. Practice grace with yourself. Recognize when you need to take a break from the current moment. Ask for help when you need it.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?

I either go for a jog or a long walk every day. I’ll sit outside if the weather’s nice and watch my kids play. My kids gave me this poster of fun activities to do as a family. It’s fun to try to do some of those right now since we have to do them at home. I’ll also lose myself in a good book or in a favorite TV show.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. There are so many stories of people helping other people. Like the teacher who went over to a student’s house and taught her on a white board outside her door. (Seen on Some Good News with John Krasinski)
  2. That even during this time of isolation, people are still finding ways to connect with others. My group of friends from graduate school do a monthly call via Google Hangouts as we’re spread out around the globe. We’ve done it for years as a way to stay connected. Lately it feels like we’re even more connected because now this is how we’re communicating with everyone in our lives.
  3. We are learning valuable lessons about the healthcare system and our country’s infrastructure that will be so important as we start to move forward from the pandemic.
  4. People are more friendly. When I’m out walking around my neighborhood, it was common to not make eye contact when you passed another person. Now, we’re not only making eye contact, we’re smiling and saying hi. We’re remembering that other people are human too.
  5. It’s spring time. If ever there is a time for hope, it is in the spring. The weather is getting better, and getting outside for fresh air and sunlight is much more achievable.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to your family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Ask how they’re doing and then really listen to the answer. Don’t try to fix it. Give them the space to talk about their feelings and empathize with what they say.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Swim through the wall. This was what my high school swim coach would tell us before a race because he didn’t want us to slow down before we finished. I still think of it often to remind myself to not slow down or stop before I’m done on a project or with a goal.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on Twitter at @beckylschroeder and on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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