'Working Mother' of the year from Bay Area


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Blair Christie is the youngest woman at /*Cisco Systems*/ to earn the senior VP title. She's also the mother of two, a connoisseur of managing the time to participate in work advisory groups and extracurricular activities for her girls. And yes, now this Silicon Valley executive has been named one of the nation's 30 working mothers of the year -- the only one from the Bay Area.

"To be recognized truly was an honor and a privilege," said Blair Christie, SVP corporate comm., Cisco Systems.

Blair and one her daughters were even selected to grace the cover of the May issue of 'Working Mother' magazine, which chose this year's honorees from a flood of nominated applicants from across the country. These accomplished moms range from a teacher, banker and scientist to high-powered executives.

"When you read about some of the women that they recognize, there are some amazing stories -- women who have really spoken up for themselves as it relates to their career, but have taken active roles in their family, and there's a lot to learn from that," said Christie.

As for Blair -- she lives by her motto: 'Focus just as much on your family as on your career.' And her advice to those juggling the two worlds:

"Set expectations at work, set expectations at home," said Christie.

She says it's critical to create a balanced rhythm between work and home life, and find a way to keep organized.

"My husband and I, we have a board at home, and we write down the week and the activities for our daughters," said Christie.

Blair also credits her employer Cisco for providing a supportive work culture -- from the ability to work remotely when necessary, to programs for new moms.

"We have a $100 subsidy for breast pumps, 24-7 lactation support where you can call and get help," said Shelly Kelley, daycare director, Cisco Systems.

And all Cisco parents have the option of using two on-site daycare centers, which strive to keep employees focused.

"It's nice to be able to look at the streaming video in between business meetings that we have and to be able to focus and say, 'ok, I got a five-second peek. I know my child is safe, and I can go on and move on and be productive throughout the day," said Kelley.

And Blair Christie is one of those who have certainly achieved a productive balance.

"Hopefully we'll get to a day where a working mother is not a rare occurrence, and working parents across the board are recognized for what they do," said Christie.

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