Lattice Life

‘We support parents by giving them visibility’ — Aruna Balakrishnan on leading Lattice’s Families ERG

April 23, 2024

Aruna Balakrishnan is the director of research at Lattice, where she has worked for almost two years. She also chairs our Families employee resource group (ERG). 

We sat down with Aruna to talk about her path into research, her favorite part of working at Lattice, balancing work and family life, and more.

How did you get started in research?

In high school, I interned with a researcher at NASA who specialized in early life forms, like algae. My dad also worked at NASA and knew I was interested in science. On my first day, he walked me into the building, and I saw a sign that read, “extraterrestrial research.” My mind was blown, and my heart won over. If this was research, I was in!

What drew you to Lattice?

Two things: the mission and the people. The mission to make work meaningful resonates with me deeply. One of the many reasons I love being a manager is helping individuals figure out their goals and help them grow to achieve them.

When I first started to learn about Lattice, the product nailed many of the processes I was trying to build through docs — like our 1:1s and Updates. I knew I wanted to be a part of a team building meaningful products like these.

Second, the people. Everyone I met with was super kind and committed to the Lattice mission. That combination, paired with the awesome product, made for an incredible opportunity.

What inspired you to lead the Families ERG?

I was eager to get involved because being a parent or caregiver is extremely challenging and, at times, isolating. The Families ERG is a wonderful community that offers members support, guidance, and cute family pictures that help make being a parent feel less challenging.

I was motivated to lead it because I had a lot of ideas on how we might continue to foster and build a rich community of parents and caregivers and offer resources to help us on our individual journeys.

How does the ERG support working parents?

We support parents by giving them visibility. It’s helpful to know that others are going through similar challenges, like potty training, sleep regression, or new schools — and also doing an amazing job at work. We know it’s ok to bring our dual selves to work, especially when we have a community that celebrates our achievements. 

How does the ERG support new or aspiring parents?

We have our general ERG slack group and ones for parents with kids in specific age ranges. We have a group for folks who are in the family planning stage and another group for those with newborns and infants. Within these groups, there are lots of conversations happening, resources shared, and support given. 

What was an impactful moment that you’re proud of?

Last year, we hosted our first-ever family Halloween event. We had one in our San Francisco office and also held a virtual event. In San Francisco, we had pumpkin decorating, a trick-or-treat trail, and a magician. I absolutely love Halloween, and it was so energizing to see everyone and their families come together for a great time. Kids love seeing where their parents work.

What advice would you give others looking to start an ERG for parents?

One critical aspect is having executive support and involvement. Several executives are in our ERG and actively participate and share their experiences. It is especially encouraging when this happens as it emphasizes how normal these challenges and experiences are, and that we are all trying to balance our sometimes competing responsibilities.

What’s something you’re passionate about outside of work?

The holiday season! I consider Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s our family’s holiday season. We celebrate all of them with family and friends and have our own special traditions. For Halloween, we still do a themed family costume (my sister joins us, too!) We also have a huge Thanksgiving feast with Indian and traditional American food, not to mention a chili crab dinner for Christmas. I might have even once thrown a Christman-in-July party.

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