Community//

“Work/Life Balance.” With Penny Bauder & Eliza Becton

Work/life balance is always a struggle, even when we aren’t challenged by our current circumstances. But while we’re all living in the same house, boundary-setting and consistency has been helpful for us to get things accomplished. We make sure the kids know that work time is for work, but when we play together, they get […]

Work/life balance is always a struggle, even when we aren’t challenged by our current circumstances. But while we’re all living in the same house, boundary-setting and consistency has been helpful for us to get things accomplished. We make sure the kids know that work time is for work, but when we play together, they get our full attention. We stick to a schedule and our kids realized over time that when we make promises, we follow through.


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 Eliza Becton.

Eliza Becton grew up outside of Boston and as an avid sailor and was always interested in sustainability and ocean stewardship. She received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Yale, a Master’s in Industrial Design from RISD, and has acquired background in user-centered design at various startups, with end-to-end experiences from market research to prototyping. During research for her Master’s thesis, Eliza learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of plastic waste in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and was inspired to create Bevi, a modern spin on the office water cooler that does its part in eliminating single-use plastic bottles by offering the best beverages instantly available on tap, with no waste (available in offices across the country, including Google and Netflix)


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?

Igraduated University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, knowing it was a great foundation for many career paths. I discovered the Industrial Design discipline shortly after graduating, and after taking a few classes in it, realized this was the perfect career for me. It allowed me to be creative, hands-on and merge my interests in technology and art. I applied to grad schools from there.

I’ve always been interested in sustainability, especially ocean stewardship. I think the passion came from the time I spent sailing from 6 years old through competing in college. While working on my Master Thesis at the Rhode Island School of Design, where I was studying Industrial Design, I learned of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. It really motivated me to dig into consumer behavior around single use plastics and try to figure out a solution that might make an impact. Bevi was born out of the idea that, rather than guilt tripping people into behavior change, it would be more effective to design a solution to the problem that is so easy, fun and efficient to use, that people would change their behavior voluntarily. In 2013, I partnered with Sean Grundy and Frank Lee, who shared the same interest in sustainability. Together we began prototyping a water machine that would eventually eliminate the plastic water bottle.

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

In 2015, our CEO, Sean Grundy, and I went to Scotland for a conference. We were invited by investors to showcase our standup Bevi machine and provide drinks to the entire conference, which was a big deal at the time. Our team helped prepare everything we might possibly need, but it was up to Sean and I to set up our 300 lb. machine, get a water supply, CO2 tanks and install it at the conference to function in pristine order. At the time, I was 6 months pregnant with my son, so Sean did most of the heavy lifting. Literally. We hadn’t installed one of our machines in a long time, so we forgot quite a bit of the process, which was especially challenging in a country where fittings were metric and electrical supply and CO2 formats were different. Needless to say, it was a “make it work” moment. We were Skyping with our other co-founder, troubleshooting any issues we had, and staying up until all hours of the night trying to fix issues. In the end, we finally got it to work and came home with a valuable reminder that even the most excellent user experience means nothing if the machine is too complicated to install and troubleshoot. To this day, we try to stay hands-on so we maintain empathy with all of our users, including technicians that swap our flavors and install our machines.

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

Yes, we are actually working on something new and exciting.We are trying to make the most of this terrible time, to come together (virtually) and focus on what is next for us. We want to give our users more options to customize with the best quality advanced hydration possible. I think, especially now, we should be focusing on our health and wellness. We want to help people achieve those goals, whether it’s kicking soda habits or boosting their favorite flavor with electrolytes and vitamin C.

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?

There are so many people that have helped and inspired us along the way. Maybe this is an obvious answer, but my co-founders, Sean and Frank, were the best partners I could have wished for. They each have their strengths and I think we all complement each other. What we all have in common, though, is our passion for sustainability, creative thinking, and we don’t give up.

Additionally, the challenges for women in tech are real. I’ve seen it many times. But Sean and Frank have been nothing but incredibly supportive of having a female co-founder and I feel lucky to have the privilege of working with them. They truly treat me as an equal, seeking my feedback on key decisions and giving me creative freedom.

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?

My husband and I have two kids — a four year-old boy and two year-old girl. Initially, the biggest adjustment for us was learning how best to occupy and challenge them while filling the void of school and friends. All of this needed to be managed along with the demands of working remotely. There were a lot of behavioral challenges, pushing boundaries, tantrums, you name it. Everyone was frustrated.

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

It’s not a complicated solution, but the most impactful thing for our kids was to spend dedicated time with each of them on our own. They pick up on a lot more than you realize, and can sense the stresses we bring along with us. They really needed our extra support and interaction, and it’s a two-way street, of course. I find that the quality time helps me stay thankful and grounded, while also escaping from some of those stresses.

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

Work/life balance is always a struggle, even when we aren’t challenged by our current circumstances. But while we’re all living in the same house, boundary-setting and consistency has been helpful for us to get things accomplished. We make sure the kids know that work time is for work, but when we play together, they get our full attention. We stick to a schedule and our kids realized over time that when we make promises, we follow through.

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

Managing stress for me mostly comes down to eating healthy, exercising and having time with my family and friends. I try to bring my family along for the ride as much as possible. We make a green smoothie together, which the kids love. I go for runs while my toddler scoots next to me. It’s important for us to get outdoors every day with two energetic kids. We FaceTime with family every couple of days. Of course doing this all the time is hard to sustain, so we interject indulgences like waffle day on Sundays, or a pizza night when behavior has been especially good.

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. We are in an exceptional time and place for innovation. If any society can come out of a global pandemic figuring out how to pivot their businesses and technologies and adapt, we can. 2. We are all probably exceptional at hand-washing now, even our toddlers. Hopefully this helps spread less illness in the future. 3. So many people are learning new skills and doing things they never had time for before. Every day is an opportunity to try something new. My husband and I have added new plant-based recipes to our repertoire. Some were epic failures, but some are game-changers! 4. Connecting with friends and family is sometimes happening more often, strengthening the bonds and creating new habits like video calling instead of texting. I don’t know about other folks but before Corona, I was always too busy running around to take the time to check in with friends and family as much as I wanted to. Now we have regular phone chats. 5. Now is a time you can also focus on yourself and create new, healthier habits. For me, behavior change is most effective when incremental, and this time has allowed me to make changes to my diet and exercise by paying closer attention to it. I have fewer snacks during the day and I work out more often during the week. Something I haven’t really been great at is staying hydrated at home. I look forward to using our Bevi again at work!

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?

There’s so much out of our control right now and I think that can feel discouraging and scary. When I talk to friends and family I try to focus on positive achievements and remind them that we’re healthy, we have each other, and we will get through it. It will end. We just have to try to make the most of this time.

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

When I was a teenager and would complain to my mom about the most current annoyance in my life, she would respond, “This too, shall pass.” My dad’s favorite come-back for a complaint was, “It builds character.” I used to roll my eyes at them, but years later I often find myself thinking of these lessons in hard times and even [gasp] saying them to my own kids! They are really simple statements, but I find them helpful.

How can our readers follow you online?

I actually don’t have much of an online presence. I am exceptionally bad at posting to social media. However, you can sometimes spot me on the Bevi blog or Instagram.

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

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Women Of The C-Suite: “You need different systems for different stages of the company” With Eliza Becton of Bevi

by Akemi Sue Fisher
Community//

How to make fear work for you

by Tanya Targett
Courtesy of Milena Djanković.
Community//

How Incorporating My Children Into Our Family Business Benefits Us Both

by Milena Djanković

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.