University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School, MBA@UNC – Student
Spring Hill College – B.S., Marketing, Psychology
As chief operating officer, entrepreneur, mom, wife and MBA student, Stephanie Winans takes multitasking to the next level. The COO of Bundoo, an online parenting and pediatric community, she spends her days meeting with key stakeholders to ensure the company’s big picture is well tended to.
On top of this, Stephanie has a side hustle, consulting with small businesses, startups, entertainment personalities and artists on digital and social strategy. A desire to dig deeper into answering the question of how to raise capital investment prodded her to pursue an MBA, which she’s in the process of obtaining through MBA@UNC’s online classes.
When she’s not investing in her company or her education, you can find Stephanie enjoying her two young girls and husband. Although Stephanie says her days are exhausting, she wouldn’t change a thing. “At least my exhaustion comes from things I’m passionate about!” she exclaims.
We’re no longer accepting that it’s a choice between children and career.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up between 5 and 5:30 a.m., make coffee and hop on the computer. I then do my MBA@UNC homework, check emails and plan my day. When my 4-month-old wakes up, I nurse her and then make breakfast for my 5-year-old. I hop in the shower and get dressed in a flash to spend some time with my girls before dropping my 5-year-old off at school on the way to work.
At Bundoo, my days are packed with meetings — department meetings for marketing, sales and editorial, plus meetings with management, Bundoo physicians, clients and potential advertisers or partners. After the birth of my second child, I began pumping at work and I use those breaks to think about the big picture of Bundoo. These are precious minutes alone where I’m not focused on specific tasks but can clear my mind and strategize. Being a mother of two, a COO and a full-time MBA student means that every minute is precious; I’m always finding effective ways to multi-task.
Some days, I fit in a quick 30-minute workout on the way home, but from 5:30 to 8 p.m. it’s all about family. It’s a struggle, but I try hard to shut off my work/school brain and wear the mom hat at night so I’m present for my husband and two (adorable!) daughters. After playing outside, making dinner and doing the bath and bedtime rituals, I get back to my desk for MBA work –— live classes, group meetings or solo homework. Finally, around 11:30 p.m., I head to bed.
My days are exhausting, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s packed with family, a fulfilling job at Bundoo where I feel like our work makes a difference and education. At least my exhaustion comes from things I’m passionate about!
Post-graduate education and motherhood are increasingly going hand-in-hand among women in the United States – just as the share of highly educated, childless women in their mid-40s has fallen significantly over the last couple decades. What are your thoughts on this trend?
I saw this research recently and found it very encouraging as postgraduate education goes hand-in-hand with positions in executive leadership. It shows that women are challenging the status quo. We’re no longer accepting that it’s a choice between children and career and we’re creating new rules for ourselves and breaking the old ones in the process. As a result, companies are following suit and finding ways to accommodate mothers to retain talent. As more career-oriented women have children, motherhood will become less of a deterrent in the interview process and in promotions.
What is the most challenging part of your daily juggling?
The biggest challenge was accepting that my “me time” now equates to homework. Gone are the days where manicures and shopping dates were my excuse to get away from home for a couple of hours. Now it’s timed exams and trips to Starbucks with the laptop!
The most rewarding part of being an MBA mom is the example I’m setting for my 5-year-old. She isn’t a fan of homework and I share with her firsthand the value of education and the role homework takes in the learning process. I feel like the, “See, I have homework, too!” comment resonates with her. My husband and I agree that there is little in life more important than education and setting an example for our daughters is important to me.
Do you feel the skills you’ve developed as a parent help in you in your work life? If so, how?
Absolutely! There are a million things I could say about the value parents bring to the workplace, but the biggest value is that becoming a parent changes your perspective. I say to my husband at least once a week, “I just want them to pursue something they’re passionate about and give it their all.” What if I wasn’t setting that example? I want my daughters to see me giving 100% of my talents to a job I’m passionate about. When they ask about my work, I want to be able to share my successes and happiness with them. To do that, I have to be motivated to give it my all at work and pursue a career I can be proud of.
Being so established already in your career, what inspired you to pursue your MBA?
I decided to pursue an MBA to gain a deeper knowledge in the subjects I’m passionate about: entrepreneurship, marketing and leadership. Specifically, I was interested in learning about strategic management and company valuations. At Bundoo, I’m diving into an endeavor I’ve never done before: raising capital investment. Feeling more confident and being armed with knowledge is paramount to both my professional growth and the growth of the brand we’re building. And I knew an MBA would fill in any knowledge gaps.
Why did you choose MBA@UNC?
I don’t want to sound like a hipster, but I chose MBA@UNC before it was ranked No. 1. I did a ton of research and there was truly no comparison to this program. It really was created with the busy business professional in mind. Somehow they managed to create a selective program that’s flexible enough for even the busiest student — like, a pregnant mom with a full-time job — without sacrificing the integrity of the education.
Also, I like to think I’m a testament to the flexibility of MBA@UNC. I got pregnant after being accepted and gave birth to my second child halfway through my second quarter. So I’ve done pregnancy exhaustion – and newborn mom exhaustion – and still managed to survive. The program is structured so that other than the live weekly classes, you can do the coursework on your own time. Because it’s an executive program, many of us are busy with families and big jobs. MBA@UNC feels like a family; we’re all in it together and fellow students are accommodating, too. I haven’t had any issues on the flexibility front, which is why I highly recommend the program for anyone who can describe their schedule as “chaotic.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Motherhood is amazing. It’s a blessing and a gift we’re given. But like our title at work, our hobbies, age or our physical appearance, we aren’t defined by it. It’s okay to be a mom and be a million other things (a COO, an MBA student, a wife, a friend, an avid reader, a shopaholic). As women, I feel like we’re afraid to admit we’re complicated. Having a job you love doesn’t make you less of a mother.