Interview – Shafali Hill, WLGO 1999

What is your current role?

I currently work at Baxter Health Care out of Deerfield, IL. I am a Software Marketing Manager, responsible for voice of the customer input, translating that voice of the customer into requirements, and working on design and feel of the software. I am also responsible for naming, pricing, branding, and training (external customers and internal team) to bring a product to launch. I really enjoy this role. I wasn’t sure if it would be a good fit, but it actually is a great fit and is like a start-up within a large company. I have a lot of authority to make decisions for the product launch.

Where have you worked in the past?

I started as an electrical engineer living in Calgary, Alberta. At the time, almost everyone there worked in the oil industry. I worked in heavy oil in Northern Alberta as a control systems engineer. After that, I went into the MIT LGO Program and moved into operations. I then moved into a marketing role followed by a program manager role, thus marrying voice of the customer and manufacturing. Next, I went to work for Motorola as a supply chain manager. I first worked the backend of bringing products to launch. Later, I moved to the front-end, marketing and bringing products to launch.

What do you do to balance family and work?

I am married and my husband is Eric Hill. We met at VisionTek, a small company in Illinois. So you could say I did get some life balance by finding my husband at work 🙂 Eric and I now have a 2.5 yr old son, Zachary, and a 7 month old daughter, Sonya. As far as childcare, Zachary was our guinea pig. We tried a number of child care solutions from on-site company sponsored childcare , to a private nanny, to Montessori, to various daycare facilities. It seemed there was no easy solution for childcare. Our current chosen daycare is close to our house and enables my husband and me to trade-off who drops off and picks-up the kids. For better balance with a young family, Eric and I plan together. We schedule most things in our work Outlook calendar. We both travel, so it takes this high degree of planning to make it work. We even put child pick up and drop off times on each other calendars. We run errands and do laundry at night. We also work at finding easy ways to eat healthy. Steamer bags are a favorite way to ensure we eat more vegetables with little preparation time required! Finally, and admittedly this comes more from my husband, we are doing more and more online – we get our groceries through, we get diapers, baby food, and a lot more from If you looked at our front steps, you’d think it is always Christmas.

With children, we need to be very flexible because circumstances can change on a dime like when one of the kids becomes sick at daycare. We do our best to trade off these responsibilities. When my husband’s job was more intense and less flexible, I flexed more. Now that I am in the early phases of a new job, my husband is flexing more. Trading off like this works for us. We try to be flexible and not stress when challenges present themselves. Our philosophy is that we will figure it out and that has shown to be true…alternatives present themselves and we discover solutions. One thing that is not very balanced is time for myself. If there is a gap right now, it’s time for self. However, I do also teach MBAs a class on Operations at Lake Forest College. I find this work energizing and so in a way it is doing something for me! What I love most about it is that the students are very motivated to learn.

What one piece of advice would you pass along to other WLGO members on managing work and life balance?

The advice I would give is to not be scared to take risks because you are worried about how you will be able to handle everything. There is a limit to this but sometimes you can surprise yourself with how much you can manage. As an example, I was pregnant with my second child and working for Motorola when I was approached by Baxter to interview for my current position. I thought to myself… no one would hire a pregnant women! Interestingly, I interviewed in person a week before I delivered the baby. Two weeks after the baby arrived I decided to make this career change to something completely new…a new industry, new people, and a new role. In addition, I was also just beginning to teach at Lake Forest College. A second child, a new job, and teaching were three big changes all at once! I learned that even in situations of great change, some element from your past can serve as a thread of commonality to navigate the change. Change of that magnitude can be scary and I worried about failing. But it was all worth it! Don’t let fear stop you.

What do you do to challenge and stretch yourself to the next level?

I have been working at this new company for 3.5 months now. Just recently my boss asked me about my career development plans. I almost laughed because it is hard to think about the future when I am still trying to juggle the new job, new child, and new teaching on the side. So for right now I am absorbing everything new and starting to focus on self care, like exercise, again. With that said, my latest challenge has been taking on the WLGO newsletter process…again something new! Networking is really important and I feel I am terrible at it. So, I am reaching out to the women of LGO to stretch myself to engage more as well as to engage others in a great networking opportunity!