Our Women Supporting Women series celebrates the trailblazers who better other women’s lives. Milena Berry and Katharine Zaleski both worked their way up the ladder at buzzing startups. And then they had kids. Their lives changed, but nothing at their offices did. In 2014, as they were struggling to balance their careers and lives, they started PowerToFly, a recruiting platform that connects companies to women in tech. Now, Milena and Katharine find, vet, and connect accomplished female tech talent with Fortune 500 companies and startups that are able to foster the right environments and flexible schedules for women to succeed. And they do it while raising their own families. Here Milena, who recently had her fourth child, and Katharine, who is pregnant with her second, tell us about their secrets for productivity, inspiration, and shared love of Soul Cycle and Nutella.
Question: What inspired you to start PowerToFly?
Milena: I was a chief technology officer at a start-up and my team was a bunch of old guys. I looked around and noticed, “Hey, there are a lot of tech companies struggling with bringing more women to their teams,” and at the same time, I felt that there were a lot of women in my situation trying to figure out how to juggle both their career and life.
Katharine: I had been working so hard my whole life to rise up, to be in control, and to lead. But there was no way I could go back to the way I was working before becoming a parent. If you think about how many offices are set up, they are really still adjusting from all-male cultures, and yet they wonder why more women don’t work there. You can’t just hire more women. You have to also create the space for them.
Question: What are your mornings like?
Katharine: Every day, I write down the things I’m thankful for. It reminds me to be positive. And then I try to do ten minutes of meditation via the app Headspace.
Milena: I just had a baby, so I have a new morning routine. We go for an hour walk - he sleeps and I can get my team calls in. It’s also my only form of exercise until I can get some more time!
Question: How do you unwind?
Katharine: I really like to kitesurf, but I’m too pregnant now to even think about it. It’s important for me to have a sport that is really challenging, and that I constantly have to work at. I also love SoulCycle.
Question: What do you always have with you in your bag?
Katharine: Makeup and a comfortable, well-made pair of shoes. I love Stowaway Cosmetics because they are so small and fit in anything. I also usually have some Lululemon workout clothes.
Milena: I always have a pair of fancy shoes in my bag in case I need to go meet somebody, but my most comfortable shoes are always on my feet. If I’m traveling, I always carry an eye mask with me. I can’t sleep unless it’s dark, and I try to sleep anywhere I possibly can these days.
Question: What TV series are you binge watching right now?
Katharine: I’m completely addicted to Outlander.
Question: What’s your favorite book that you read recently?
Katharine: I just finished Emma Cline’s The Girls..! Before [The Girls], I read Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. I also just finished Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, which was terrifying, obviously.
Milena: I’ve been reading a lot of kids books lately, especially with my 9 year old. We love the “The Unwanted” series. For myself, I like anything by Brené Brown.
Question: If somebody offered you a round-trip first-class trip ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go, what would you do, and would you go alone or would you bring someone?
Milena: Oh god, I’ll never go alone anymore. I want to go to Asia with my kids with the whole family. Imagine - a whole busload of us in Southeast Asia!
Katharine: For some reason, Zanzibar just came up in my head. Yeah, first class to Zanzibar would be pretty good and I would obviously have to take my daughter and hire a really good nanny! She’ll be four years old in December so we could even go kite surfing.
Question: What are three things that make you happy?
Katharine: My daughter, her nanny…and my husband (when he wants to go kitesurfing).
Milena: My family, of course. SoulCycle because it’s really given me so much, not just in terms of feeling good about my strength, but also about entering the day and the week with more clarity of mind and inspiration. Lastly, sunny days in New York, because I love that about New York—even when it’s freezing, you’ll still see the sunshine every day.
Question: Last question: What are your guilty pleasures?
Katharine: Nutella. Marzipan, and Outlander - I need to develop an app that blocks it from my phone. I’m serious.
Milena: Nutella, SoulCycle, and hot springs.
Devorah Lev-Tov is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle writer who lives in Brooklyn and writes for publications including Food & Wine, New York magazine, Tasting Table, Robb Report, and Town & Country.