Maria Goldsholl uses the hurdles she’s jumped on her own career path as motivation to find solutions for other women as they run the same race. As COO of Mom Corps, she’s digging in deep to discover the best resources to support women who are searching for professional opportunities that fit their lifestyles. It’s a personal mission for Maria, and her charisma inspires her clients and colleagues to reach their full potential.
You’re from New York state; what brought you to Atlanta?
My husband and I were in New York City and needed a change from the long, drawn-out winters. Turner Broadcasting contacted me, and I thought it would be interesting to check out the job. The day I flew in for my interview was a warm November day; the sun was out, and everyone was wearing flip flops. I was sold! Thank goodness the job was a great one, too, because it made the decision pretty easy. Our original plan was to stay for three years. Now 18 years and several jobs later, we’re still here.
Do you consider yourself an “official” Southerner yet?
I don’t really consider myself a Southerner. There’s the old adage “you can take the girl out of New York, but you can never take New York out of the girl.” I have softened, though, trying to acquire some of the lovely Southern traits that make this part of the country so special. I greet my neighbors, take time to get to know people and try not to be in a rush in line (although I still tap my foot at the deli counter). I’m amazed at the sense of community that Southerners have. You can’t stub your toe in my neighborhood without 20 people bringing casseroles and offering to help with your kids. I love that! I’m comforted that my children are also being watched by people who care about our family. I tell my kids not to misstep because there are 200 homes in my neighborhood, and you better believe that I will find out!
As a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I know it sounds weird, but I didn’t have any thoughts of the sort. My father was a businessman, former professor and art historian, so it was always understood that I was going to college — and that a second degree would be even better. Education was the Holy Grail in my house, but that was the extent of my thinking on the future. I didn’t even decide to major in psychology until the start of my third year in college!
When did you join the Mom Corps team?
I started with Mom Corps as employee No. 1 more than eight years ago. I was looking to diversify my career, transition out of HR and be more available to my kids. I’d run myself ragged up to that point. Frankly, it wasn’t only an issue of spending more time home with my family; I needed more time for wellness, exercise and my friends. When I first met with our CEO, Allison O’Kelly, and she described her company vision, I was in love. The concept not only spoke to the challenges I faced, but it also could make a huge difference in others’ lives.
What is the Mom Corps YOU program, and how did it come about?
Mom Corps YOU is a subscription-based online learning community where we can gather virtually to share our stories, listen to speakers and learn how to take charge of our careers, our health, our finances. We’ve been in the staffing business for all this time, and our clients know we understand their issues. For years, we’ve fielded questions like: “How do I re-enter the workforce after being home? How do I explain a gap on my resume? What are my rights as I leave for maternity leave? How do I ask for flexibility?” About a year ago, the concept of Mom Corps YOU was born. We wanted to speak to women about all facets of their lives. In addition to our online resources, we showcase fantastic speakers like Jean Chatzky and Dr. Taz, among others, who share their knowledge with us. These sessions are twice a week at 1 p.m. EST, and they are saved in our library so members can listen to them at their leisure. It’s a dose of education, inspiration and community!
Women have been told lately to “lean in” to their careers, and also that they should “opt out” of the professional world to focus on family. Give us a few tips for finding the balance.
I don’t think anyone has balance. I like the word synergy better — making all the components of your life work well together. It’s important to step back and think about what we want in life, wherever we are, and then make room for those things. I can’t complain that I don’t have time to exercise if I don’t make it a priority!
What are the greatest challenges for women who are trying to re-enter the workforce or change careers?
Making sure they’re still relevant, which typically means increasing tech skills. But it also applies to certifications or networking contacts — Mom Corps YOU helps with all that. I also find that many need to boost their sense of professionalism. Technology has allowed our culture to become so casual with texting, messaging and social media. In a work environment, it’s still important to communicate carefully, professionally and efficiently, delineating a difference from what we’d say in a personal text or email.
Do you have any “working-mother shortcuts” to share?
OK, this is a huge household tip at the Goldsholls. Wait for it … pre-cut onions from the freezer section at Kroger. I am not kidding. I like to cook and feed my family healthy meals. I am Greek-American, so the family meal and food experience is very important to us. But time is often working against me. I used to feel guilty if I took shortcuts because it wasn’t the way my grandmother did it, but I don’t anymore. Also, I make sure to keep my workouts sacred and solid on my calendar. I find when I do, I actually get more done in less time at work and have more energy for my kids after work.
How do you relax?
Exercise definitely is a de-stressor for me. My friends are another. I try to combine the two as much as possible by working out or taking walks with my closest girlfriends whenever I can. I also love to travel with my family. We try to get back to Greece every two years and visit family and my college friends (I went to undergrad in Athens), and I feel a huge exhale when I step off the plane.
What quality do you wish you’d inherited from your parents?
My dad was handy and great with numbers — two skills that I am lacking!
What guilty pleasure song is blaring in your kitchen? What do you belt out when you’re alone in the car?
Recently, I had been cooling down at the end of a run with P!nk’s “Just Give Me A Reason.” I must sound awful when I sing with my headphones, on but I just love that song! I also can’t help but sing anytime I hear Barry White. I think it’s my “inner romantic” singing.
When you get a chance for a date night, where might we find you around town?
We like to stay close to home, since my 14-year-old son is now the sitter. Our favorite places are Salt Factory Pub in Roswell Square and Seed Kitchen & Bar in East Cobb. We prefer to sit at the bar, share appetizers and people-watch.
Do you have a travel “bucket list”?
I have a HUGE travel wish list, and once I visit a place I want to go back. So nothing really ever gets crossed off the list! I recently did a big trip up the Pacific Coast Highway with my family and tried “glamping.” Amazing. I’m a gypsy at heart. If I could, I’d take all my friends and family and change countries every year!
What’s on your bedside table right now?
My favorite author is Jhumpa Lahiri, and I’m reading her new book The Lowland right now. I’ve devoured everything she’s ever written, but I admit to having a tough time getting into this one. I keep trying, though, because of my admiration of the author. I also want to read Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes. As a woman trying to raise two boys, I need to understand the social dynamics they face. I was a psychology major, so I really get into these types of books — much to my husband’s dismay!
What three things can you not live without, other than faith, family and friends?
- A good laugh every day. My husband is pretty funny.
- The sun. When I wake up and it’s sunny outside, I feel like I can conquer the world!
Maria, thank you for letting us get to know you a little better and for working to build a team that help women everywhere pursue their career dreams. Learn more about Mom Corps YOU here: www.momcorpsyou.com
Fabulous photos, Cat Maxwell. Thanks!