How She Does It | Matina Thomaidou

September: the month I make my New Schoolyear resolutions, had me feeling like five months came to pass in only 30 days time.

Most people make their resolutions in January, right after the bubbly new year party champagne. True to my lifelong learner identity, I do the exact same every September: right before the start of the school year.

For me, September marks that point in time where I take bold steps back: I pause on what is, I reflect on what has been, I imagine what could be. I revisit my core; I wink at my North Star; I plan out on my growth journeys, and… off I go!

The more I grow, the more I realize that what I seek to understand and explore lies beyond the traditional fragmented skilling landscape of science and culture as we know it. The value I seek to unearth lies in the in-between. In the cross-section. This September the message was clear: “inner work” is needed.

So, for the coming weeks, I plan to reflect, understand and bring to the surface all that needs to be seen, adjusted and changed, towards a more empowered and conscious life of presence and leadership. Realizing my new year resolution through Artemis Evengelidi’sLife: The Program – Conscious Living For Conscious Leading” 16-week intensive interactive live program was my way of expanding towards the adoption of an increasingly stoic philosophy towards life, growth and the context where the two intertwine, following the leadership paradigm of this Month’s Happy Mom, fellow Lean In activist and Women in Tech advocate Dr. Mathina Thomaidou!

Dr. Matina Thomaidou, Happy Mama | Director of Customer Success at wappier | ex-Facebook Ads, Data Science, Gaming | PhD in Machine Learning | Lean In Greece: Women In Tech Leader

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Matina Thomaidou and the latest chapter of my story coincided with the beginning of the pandemic strict curfews, mid-April 2020. That day rocked my (our) world. In the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of the night, everything was about to change. I gave birth to my son after a challenging pregnancy and delivery. And because this family is all about challenges, we decided to leave Ireland and move back to Greece.

Now, I am the Director of Customer Success at wappier, leading an amazing team on enabling the success of our mobile games and apps clients through the power of AI. I am also co-leading a wonderful Lean In community (Lean In Greece: Women In Tech Global Circle). Before that, I worked abroad at Facebook and IBM in Ireland, Microsoft Norway, leading data science and business insights projects.

In my school years, I was a tomboy, and took a very hardcore computer science and technical path. My BSc and MSc studies were on Computer Science and I hold a PhD in Machine Learning for Online Advertising. My vision is to inspire younger (especially Greek) women that are just entering the STEM world, women that they want to do a switch in their careers, and parents / family on how to empower from a young age their little girls. I want to to drive as much as I can a culture shift in matters as parenthood, inclusion & diversity, mental health, work life balance inside the innovative tech world.

Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Mom, and how do you manage it?

The expectations. Not only society and environment expectations but yours as well. How you expect to realize the role of the Mom, how you expect your child will behave, grow, reach certain milestones. How you expect things will go about the child’s health, how you expect you will manage if something goes wrong. And the time you have to dedicate if things don’t go as “planned”.

Becoming a Mother is a transformation, not only a new child is born, a new “you” is born at the same time. I don’t think I manage the difficult parts of being a Mom, I think these exact parts are the ones that gave me a new self of mine. Putting things into different perspective, becoming thick-skinned, able to multitask better (hear hear super mamas), focus on celebrating small wins, leaving behind tough moments.

Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Mother? What type of support are you mostly in need of?

You know it. It takes a village. Both for you and your baby. Grandparents & grandparents. Yes, x2. My personal goddess, my own Mother. The funny story is that Stella, the leader of the fantastic Lean In Working Moms of Athens Circle asked me to write for this column named “How She Does It” and with the current life chaos it is just an irony that I managed to write how I do it – the answer is simple: with a big help from my support network (rephrasing the famous song : ) ) I need support in everything. When I am not at home, all needs of my highly energetic toddler must be met still.

What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Mom?

Stoicism. A stoic approach for a calm pregnancy, post-partum period, toddler tandrums, health issues: The glass. Seeing the half full side and being grateful for it, seeing the half empty side and saying, can I do anything about it?

When I was on the 8th month of pregnancy, my placenta was low-lying. It was the month where I had to remember and apply all that I read on Mo Gawdat’s book “Solve for Happy“, all my stoic philosophy and mindset. I am accepting the fact that it’s out of my control to change the position of the placenta and the only thing I can do is to find papers with statistics on probability to move up and away. I can control though other aspects of my pregnancy: Joining regularly the pregnancy yoga classes from my doula, having all these amazing discussions and connection with other mamas and moms-to-be there, learning about birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, creating a birth plan. And I fully needed all of these, as little George decided to have quite a dramatic entrance in this world as well as quite a challenging first year. Looking behind the year of 2020, I am grateful for this skill and I am celebrating that we managed to finally dodge the curveball.

What advice do you have for a new Mom?

Now, more than ever, globally, we start to comprehend that before we take an action we should adopt a researcher mindset and follow an evidence-based approach. You might hear millions of tips, advice, and guidance from various parties. Listen to the experts of the scientific community about a matter like WHO. And surround yourself with the best team.

That means research, discuss, meet, and decide with which professionals as well as family environment are you going to continue. Members of your team: your partner, your truly supportive family members, OB-GYN, midwife, doula, pediatrician. Think about every step of the way: pregnancy, birth, emergency, postpartum, first chapters of your baby’s life. Create a safe, prepared, calm environment for your child and yourself.

And enjoy the beautiful moments. Be proud of yourself mama, be confident, you are doing an amazing job!

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