By Ijeoma S. Nwatu
We recognize women of color everyday, however throughout the month of March we will be featuring women of power who are balancing it all. Our first spotlight feature is Aja Page Hill, a Microsoft executive, a Yoga queen, Real Estate mogul, mother of two and loving wife. Check out her interview below:
What does a typical day look like for you?
My mornings start with my two kids in my room. I have a four-year and a two-year old. I work as a customer success manager with Microsoft, supporting federal civilian customers like the United Nations, the American Red Cross, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). My job might involve traveling, developing strategy, implementing solutions, or taking calls and building plans from home.
After work, I pick up my kids. I typically reserve an hour in the evening to work out at the gym, do yoga or weight training. I then head home, have dinner and then back to bed.
What’s your advice to other women when it comes to "balancing it all"? Does balance really exist?
I do think balance exists. I was always fearful of being a mom because I heard Oprah say she couldn’t be excellent at both (her career and motherhood). Having a family was important to me. I have to build systems into my life so I can be great at my job and with my kids. I don’t do laundry. I don’t clean the house. I have a loving, supportive husband. Systems reduce the burden and are really important. I am also grateful to have financial security and job flexibility.
What sparks your interest?
As of last summer, I am a certified yoga teacher. I get to coach other people to stop and take note of things around them, emotionally, physically, physiologically. Yoga is a place where I can have an experience with myself. I like to challenge myself and my body.
Do you think sisterhood, personally and/or professionally, is important?
Personally, it is more than invaluable. I’m not sure how I would function. I have a core group of friends, most of whom have two kids. My closest friends are black, professional women who mirror my life.
Professionally, I have a separate support system at work. Information technology (IT) is dominated by men but I have always worked for women and been mentored by them, which is rare. I reach out to people I admire and ask for help; it so happens to be from other women. It is important for women to sponsor you, submit your name for opportunities, etc. Be curious and fearless in seeking that sponsorship and mentorship. There are women who want to help other women, in particular black women.
Where do you get your news information? How do stay on top of your profession?
I don’t watch the news. When I get the news, it’s via a podcast, social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). I get a daily newsletter of RSS feeds from my industry, that I peruse in my email.. I take at least one training a quarter (product or management skills focused).
Share an experience in which you learned a valuable lesson.
In addition to working at Microsoft, I co-own a real estate company, buying rental properties and flipping dilapidated homes. We had a team that was smooth. Later on, we made a decision to work with friends and it did not turn out great in terms of expectations and performance delivery. When we ended the business relationship, the friendship ended as well. I learned to be crystal clear in not making business decisions based on friendships. I probably won’t make that mistake again. Trust in business relationships does not translate into trust in a friendship.
Is there a woman in your life or throughout history whom you admire?
My mom was a single mom–a constant visual of a woman that was running my entire life was empowering for me. She put me in an all girls school. I grew up with an understanding that there was no limitation to success and my career. I never had an impression that a woman could not do it.