Balancing The Board Room, Operational Leadership & Family Life with Aditi Javeri Gokhale
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: I’ve had the opportunity to be asked to be on really incredible boards for many years now, for two or three years at least. I didn’t want to jump into being a board member until I felt like I had enough time coming back to the work life balance that I had, enough time to contribute as a board member to be a C level executive and then to be a mom. I felt like that was the time that happened about a year ago I got a call to be on the board of an incredible company called Churchill Downs.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: Churchill Downs is a publicly traded company, it’s about two and a half billion in market cap and they’re known for organizing the Kentucky Derby which is the second largest watched sports event after the Super Bowl. So when I was asked to be on the board my first reaction was, well I don’t know nothing about horse racing why me? But that’s exactly why they wanted me to be on the board because Churchill Downs acquired a video and mobile gaming company called Big Fish for 800 million dollars. They were looking for a digital expert.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: Half of their customer base is female and they didn’t have any representation of a digital expert and a female on the board. To me that felt like a great combination because A, I have the customer perspective I bring to the table. I have the digital perspective and it’s one of those amazing 140 year institutions so I accepted the offer and it’s been fun.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: I think coming back to it needs to be right for you. You don’t want to just say you’re on the board, it needs to work for you based on what’s going on in your life and you want to make sure you’re contributing to it. I’m the youngest board member, I’m the only female board member and at least from what I’ve heard so far I bring a very unique perspective to how they want to sort of shift their business model and I think that’s great.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: I think it’s a constant sort of recognition that you’ve got two aspects to your life and this means not just for women but for men too, is that you got a family life and you’ve got a professional life. I’m not one of those women who, I love my job and I love working and I love succeeding but I want to be known as a mom and a wife.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: I think work-life balance is sort of what works for you the best. In most of my jobs the lines have been very blurry between my personal and professional life, but that’s just me as a person. As a leader I’m a very open person, I’m very transparent, everybody knows what’s going on in my life. My calendar, everybody has access to it. They know when I have to go to school, when I have a doctor’s appointment I have nothing to hide.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: That makes it easy on me because again I’m trying to juggle two things. It’s a constant recognition that you got to do well on both sides of the equation and balancing it out, and having great support. Having a wonderful husband who is extremely supportive of my travel schedule, or my board meetings, or what have you. And you build out a support system, having an incredible network of stay at home moms as my friends who recognize and are very supportive of it.
Aditi Javeri Gokhale: I didn’t know this, there have been a few rules I’ve got similar feedback from my team members and I think I’m glad they said this. They say I’m extremely empathetic but I drive hard for results. I have this passion to succeed but I sort of get the team together to go with me versus just doing it by myself so I think that’s good, I want to be remembered that way. On the personal front you know, just to be known as a wonderful mom, daughter and wife.