This June, we celebrate Father’s Day by interviewing fathers balancing careers and family responsibilities. In the first interview of this series, we talk with Shane Baptist, Lead Marketing Analyst at Encora. Shane is based in Bangalore, India where he lives with his wife Leeann and their son Zachary who will turn 5 years old next month.
Shane, please introduce yourself and tell us about your background and current role.
I started my career in advertising, which is how I met my wife. We both lived in Mumbai at the time, but after we got married we moved to Bangalore. I worked in digital marketing and client servicing for a while before being hired for a marketing position by a software company. Since January 2020, I’m a full-time Lead Marketing Analyst at Encora. I wear multiple hats that vary depending on the day. I manage content and design for our global intranet, execute the global newsletter, support the local People & Culture team with employee engagement, and build and maintain relationships with stakeholders.
As Lead Marketing Analyst at Encora, what is the best thing about your job?
It's hard for me to nail down one thing because there are many aspects of my job that I love. I thoroughly enjoy coming to work every day because each day is different and exciting. But if I have to name one key factor that I love about my job, it would be that I get to collaborate with people from different cultures and other countries. We're a big company with a small company feel. And despite working remotely, we continue to have a very close-knit team.
When you first became a father was there a big change in your working life?
There was a big change in my personal life, but not so much in my professional life. As a newborn, my son would keep us up for hours every night. Getting up in the morning to go to the office was the most difficult part of my day. It took some time before things started to settle, but eventually, we found our new routine as a family.
Over the years, how has being a parent changed the way you approach work?
I’ve always been very dedicated to my work. Even after becoming a parent, I still give 100% to everything I do. But having Zachary has made me more patient and understanding, not only in my personal life but in my career as well. Parenting also made me more flexible. Sometimes things might not go exactly as planned―that just means that you will find another way.
What are your favorite things about being a father with a career?
Zachary sees both of his parents work from home and imitates us. He is always asking us why we are working, what we are doing, and how he can help. Despite his young age, he is very helpful around the house and often offers a helping hand. When my wife traveled to Mumbai to take care of her mother who had gotten sick, Zachary didn’t complain once and was on his best behavior while she was gone. Being at home as much as I am right now has allowed me to spend more time with my son. Watching him become this helpful, caring, and compassionate little man is the best part of being a father.
In which ways has the pandemic affected your work and family life?
It was difficult when the pandemic first hit. My wife and I had to figure out how to work from home, keep Zachary entertained, and also educate him, almost overnight. We quickly learned that planning a routine for the month - or even the week ahead - was impossible. We had to plan day-by-day because things were constantly changing. Zachary started prep school last month and is now learning numbers, the alphabet, and spelling skills. It can be challenging for him to sit still and focus, at times it requires both my wife and me to sit down with him. Although it’s still not ideal, I can honestly say that we’re in a better place now than when the pandemic started. As a family, we’ve made the new normal work.
What is Encora doing to support parents who are working from home?
Even before the pandemic, Encora has been supportive of working parents and that's not just mothers. The company understands that we’re people with families, so flexible working hours apply to men too. I remember a pre-pandemic situation where my wife was unable to pick up Zachary from daycare due to a work emergency. We don’t have family members living nearby who could have stepped in. When I went to my manager to explain, they told me to go and take care of the needs of my family. In my opinion, this is the type of support that employees most value from their employers. I wasn’t worried, stressed, or concerned about leaving work early because I felt supported.
In your opinion, how much time of paternity leave should fathers receive?
The company I worked at when Zachary was born did not offer paternity leave. Fortunately, I was able to take a week off to stay home with my wife and our newborn. But when I had to return to the office a week later, my wife was still recovering and could have really used my help. I think all fathers should be able to get 15-30 days of paternity leave to support their wives and look after their babies. In my experience, 5-10 days of paternity leave simply isn’t enough.
When your son grows up, what do you hope he will remember from his childhood?
He has several sets of Lego and other building blocks that he loves playing with. As he is getting a little older, his interests tend to change but he hasn’t gotten tired of building things yet. He was three years old when he first showed interest in his blocks, and we’ve been stacking and building, and making towers together ever since. The other day, my wife left the house and I stayed home with Zachary. He suggested that we build her a castle as a surprise for when she comes home. I love that he is coming up with ideas like that. When he grows up, I hope he remembers the times we spent building blocks together.
How has the pandemic affected his behavior?
He is still very young of course, but to some extent, he understands what is going on. When my wife and I went to get vaccinated, thanks to Encora, he told us he wanted to get the vaccine as well. Whenever we return home, he washes his hands without us having to ask him. A couple of weeks ago, I was outside on our balcony when an ambulance pulled up. Zachary came running with both of our masks. It’s interesting how children pick up on our attitudes toward the pandemic. We make sure to model a healthy balance between caution and panic.
How do you want your son to see you?
My wife and I are both friendly, humble, and generous people. I hope that our son will see and copy these characteristics, so he himself will grow up to become a kind and compassionate human being. I think it’s already rubbing off on him. He is the type of kid who has no trouble sharing his toys and candies. And since he has discovered Spiderman, he will protect spiders at all costs.
How would you define fatherhood in 3 words?
The first word that comes to mind is adventurous. Raising Zachary has been one big adventure so far. Each day brings new experiences, challenges, and things to laugh about. So the second word that comes to mind is fun. I’m having the best time simply by interacting with him, especially now that he’s at the age where he is asking fascinating questions and saying interesting things. The third word would be tiring. Being a father is hard work and requires endless patience. It may be both the best and the hardest job you could ever have, but it is so worth it.
Do you think there are societal biases that keep dads from talking openly about the difficulty of managing their career and home lives?
Maybe there is, but I have never experienced this myself. Being a father is a big part of who I am, and my wife and son are the reason why I work as hard as I do. My friends and I talk very openly about the challenges of juggling work and family life. I have no problem speaking out or asking for advice when it comes to managing a healthy work-life balance.
Talking about advice―if you could share some advice with fathers who struggle to balance their careers and families, what would it be?
Don’t plan too much ahead. Or if you do, expect the plan to go off the rails. Especially with young children, it can be hard to plan out your day and follow through. Whenever things don’t work out the way you planned, don’t stress ― it will work itself out fine, it always does.
Which question would you like us to ask the next Encora father that we will interview?
Children demand around-the-clock attention, which can be challenging when both parents work from home and don't have family living nearby to lean on. We try to keep Zachary entertained with a coloring book or toys, but that only works for so long. It would be interesting to hear from other fathers how they keep their children occupied while they work from home.
What is your favorite "dad joke?"
That’s a tough one. I am not sure if this joke is the best or the worst one, but here it is.
- How would you say hi to Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Buffalo.
Are you ready to create the future you want with us? Encora is hiring! We have open vacancies for people who are just as excited about tech as we are. Let’s talk!