Max Schireson’s plane made an emergency landing in Tucson, causing some crew members such severe trauma they had to be replaced before they continued on to Austin. Meanwhile, the exhausted MongoDB CEO slept through the entire incident.
Schireson told Forbes, “[i]n that moment, I realized, ‘What am I doing?'”
Schireson spoke to the publication after his announcement this week that he would step down from the top spot at the billion-dollar tech company, taking the position of vice chairman.
But it’s Schireson’s deeper reasons for his departure, expressed on his blog, that has many people, inside and outside of business circles, taking notice. He wants to spend more time with his family.
Schireson directly addressed the different assumptions made about the choices of mothers and fathers when it comes to balancing family and career:
“I have an amazing wife who also has an important career; she is a doctor and professor at Stanford where, in addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research on prematurity, surgical techniques, and other topics…
Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.”
Writing in Esquire, Stephen Marche said Schireson is not unique. Many fathers are challenged by the balance between family and work, but when it comes to men, that challenge is rarely discussed. As Marche says:
“This CEO is not atypical. We are at the beginning of a new fatherhood, rather than at the end. And the new reality is not just complicated, but it’s also largely unrecognized.”
Schireson joined MongoDB in 2011 where he first served as president, then CEO. The Daily Mail reports that the company’s worth rose by $220 million during his tenure.
While the company is largely New York-based, Schireson’s family resides in Palo Alto, California. Schireson’s three children are aged 14, 12 and 9. Schireson said during his tenure he’s missed significant family events, such as the passing of the family’s dog, and his son’s unexpected (and successful) emergency surgery.
Recognizing that his decision may affect his career trajectory, Schireson was also clear he was aware of the potential ramifications, but he had no regrets:
“Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family… At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.”
Dev Ittycheria will replace Max Schireson as MongoDB CEO on September 3, 2014.