Culture Technology Women in Tech

Becky Crichton’s Journey in Finding Work-Life Balance

8 min read

Becky Critchon works at SurveyMonkey as an Apply Service Manager. Her hustle at work keeps her focused within her hours of operation to streamline success. Outside of work, Becky runs an artisan business with her partner selling handmade candles Petal & Pipe. Becky’s story about working in tech talks about the importance of repurposing productive energy towards off-screen activities – detaching and destressing. Becky describes her pivot point, where she learned how to shift her mindset, disconnecting from technology and focusing off hour efforts towards her business.

Question and Answers

When did you begin taking an interest in technology?

I don’t have a significant moment in my life that shifted my interest towards technology.

Technology has always been around me and I feel that I’ve always been interested. It’s hard not to be interested as technology changes so much and there’s always something new! Now, I would say that my interest in technology has shifted specifically towards tools built for operational effectiveness. Managing personal, work, and my small business easier.

What was your first significant memory with technology as a child, and/or a young adult?

I have a couple to share. Though my exposure to technology was limited in the 90’s, we had a computer in our home growing up and I remember that it was a pretty foreign object to me. The first significant memory that I have from it was my dad playing a trick on us – he showed me and my brother the screen, we stared, and stared, and stared, and then a terrifying image of a witch popped up and screamed.

Fast forward a few years, at school we had computer class and I can remember racing into the lab to get the best computer. There was a row of brand new, colourful, Macintosh computers. At the time, the teal one just screamed ‘this is the future!’ and it was a luxury to get to work on it in comparison to all of the others.

Outside of school, my brother greatly influenced me to be interested in games. Though I have never admitted it, or would have considered myself a ‘nerdy’ kid or a gamer, when interested in a game, I would become completely immersed for hours. Crash Team Racing, The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon, anyone?

When you were growing up did you think you’d be working in the tech industry today? Did you go to post-secondary education with a study related to technology?

When I was growing up I thought I’d be a vet or lawyer. What I thought I wanted to be when I grew up was highly influenced by media, it changed every time I watched a movie!

The “what do you want to do?” conversation was always daunting as I never gravitated towards any particular field or subject. At the end of high school, I’d taken an interest in communications and decided to focus on it for my undergraduate degree. Once I’d completed that degree, I worked in hospitality in the Canadian Rockies. Continuing in hospitality later in Ottawa.

Feeling as though I wasn’t on MY path, I thought I’d give business a try and completed a post graduate diploma in International Business Management. I’d maintained employment while in school, continuing to work in hospitality and for the Government. It wasn’t until I’d graduated from Business Management that I shifted my mindset around the option of working in technology.

I started working at SurveyMonkey in 2015. I didn’t have a background in technology, and the learning curve was certainly was steep. Though my degree wasn’t directly aligned with my new job, I found that communication plays a big part in any role and added a lot of value. I’ve also learned that the tech industry is full of people from various backgrounds; you don’t need to go to school for it to be a great fit.

How often do you take additional courses related to technology, or sharpening existing skills?

A few times a year. I’ve attended workshops on the weekends and local talks in the evenings. My current employer also encourages this and offers multiple resources to do so. We have an entire team focused on learning and development and are given access to thousands of online courses.

I’ve learned that even if you’ve been in a role or with a company for a long time, sharpening existing skills and gaining new ones is incredibly important to make sure you’re bringing the most value to the table.

Do you have any involvement outside of work, within the tech industry?

My boyfriend and I run a small business, Petal & Pipe, on the side. We focus on bringing repurposed goods back to life and creating pieces for the home. Though not within the tech industry, technology plays an important role in how we operate.

We love learning about new tools to improve the business and make managing it as efficient as possible. We have an online store to showcase our products and manage inventory, which integrates with a POS system to use when we’re at markets. This business has also given us the opportunity to learn a ton about the power of social media to create a following and generate more business.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

“Don’t live to work, work to live.”

When I first started my career, I struggled with work-life balance. This wasn’t my employer’s expectation – one of the core values is to prioritize health and have this balance – it was more so my misconception of what it means to work hard.

I was working in a role that I found challenging, navigating both the customer and their implementation. Every email I received felt urgent and I dealt with everything I could immediately. Over time, I recognized the additional stress of not disconnecting, and realized that I was creating habits that would likely carry throughout the rest of my career.

I made a conscious effort to disconnect and learned to become more efficient, and to prioritize my time effectively. I think this shift made me not only happier but a better employee. On top of that, I also have support in my day-to-day from my boyfriend, family, and friends – I’m surrounded by a close group of girls who are absolute #girlbosses. They’re all smart, driven, and successful in their respective industries. Within this network, I’m lucky enough to find the advice I need to help navigate almost any situation.

What advice would you give another woman, interested in entering the tech industry?

I would say dive in, be flexible, and stay curious! There’s plenty of opportunity within the industry, which makes it hard to get bored.

Now, I can’t imagine working anywhere other than with technology. With that, things change often – it’s important to stay flexible and open to learning new things every day. Even if you decide not to work in tech, this will be an important skill in any career… the worst thing you can do is become stagnant. And while you’re looking, it doesn’t hurt to check out different companies to ensure their culture and values are in line with yours!

Becky’s journey to finding work-life-balance is a common one most go through. Her story of learning what it means to work hard through detaching from technology with the goal of being less stressed is a valuable lesson we can all look to. Becky has a growth mindset, one of the most prominent characteristics required to thrive in tech. Reflecting on Becky’s journey I am sure reigns true to many. Her story is a reminder that you have to direct a conscious effort to find the change you need to see in your life, both professionally and personally.

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