Expedia Group Dads Share the Power of Paternity Leave

Lauren von Stackelberg | Director, Industry Relations in London

Countries around the world mark Father’s Day on different dates and at least 86 nations will be observing the occasion the week of June 16th. Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the dads in our lives and an opportunity to reflect on how we support not only fathers in the workplace, but families at home.

According to a 2016 report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, 41% of Americans have employers that provide paid paternity leave to some workers, and only 9% work for companies that provide paid paternity leave to all. And even when a company offers leave, many men are reluctant to take the time off, as one in three men said that they feared the stigma associated with paternity leave.

Expedia Group has one of the most comprehensive paternity leave plans today to provide dads with time to bond with their newborns, support their family, and enable their partners to return to the work force to support gender equality. Anyone who has spent long hours with an infant knows the joys of watching momentous milestones, from first smiles to first steps, and the many challenging hours spent trying to get them to eat and sleep.

Parenting is hard, wonderful, messy, fulfilling and never boring. On this Father’s Day, we celebrate all the amazing dads of Expedia Group, and those who shared their paternity leave story. Enjoy!

Chris Hodges | Director, Business Development

I feel so lucky that I was able to take advantage of paternity leave after the birth of my daughter Grace. For me to be able to spend quality time with my wife and newborn in those precious early stages of life allowed me to create bonding moments that are priceless. I was initially nervous to go out on leave, but I had so much support from my boss and my team and I’m so grateful for that. And am excited to be taking pat leave again in a couple of months when my twins are born.

Nicolas Grande | Area Manager, MM Argentina

At the end of 2018, I faced one of the most difficult challenges in my life when my third child was born–I needed to help my wife as well as support my other kids. Even though I knew we had the paternity leave benefit, it took me a while to make the decision to use it. Now, I can say the paternity leave was a key moment both in my life and my professional career. I was able to enjoy my newborn and all of my family without worrying about my job, as I was supported by my Manager and all my team. I believe life is about moments–I strongly encourage you to fully enjoy the most important ones.

Nico Daudin | Senior Director, Program Development

I went on paternity leave in 2018 to take care of my first son. I was a bit afraid at first to take the time off. I had a ton of questions that were racing in my head: Would I know how to handle parenting alone? Would my team be ok? Would it impact my career negatively? However, thanks to the support of my boss, my team and the other product leaders, I took it and couldn’t be more grateful that I did!

Not only was I able to create a special bond with my son, but the time off also helped my career. It empowered everyone on my team to be even more autonomous, which increased their performance. It also gave me the time to really think about our product strategy and how to improve our overall performance. That’s a pretty amazing ROI when you think about it.

Jonathan Harris | Senior Manager, Business Development and Initiatives

I’m so grateful that the company has a culture where taking time off to nurture a baby is not only offered for men, but strongly encouraged. The fact that several senior leaders and members of my team had already paved the way with their own leave made my transition easier. I was able to completely disconnect for the full 12 weeks, although spending entire days with my daughter Erika felt like anything but “time off” – she is a far more demanding boss than anyone I have worked for at LPS!

Mike Doyle | Director, Market Management

My life got turned upside down in June 2017 with the birth of triplets. Yes, triplets. With no family living nearby, my wife and I had no idea how we would be able to handle this. It would have to be the ultimate team effort and would require time to get in sync with each other. Thankfully, we have a great paternity leave benefit at Expedia Group and my boss was fully supportive of me taking the full leave in order to bond with my new family. This afforded me the time needed to adjust to a “new normal.” It allowed me to spend quality time bonding with my kids while learning how to be a triplet parent. (Honestly though, I’m still learning). I felt no pressure from the workplace while I was out. When I came back to work, I got a great welcome from the Denver team and was allowed to gradually acclimate back into my role. I’m grateful for having this benefit – and the support to be able to use it.

Nicholas Ursini | Director, Strategic Accounts

We are fortunate to work for a company that offers a generous parental leave policy and it seems like it should be a no brainer decision, but I still was uncertain about taking the time off! Having an open dialogue and having overwhelming support from my leadership really helped me take paternity leave. Looking back, the time I had with my wife and son Theo was irreplaceable! It also helped reduce pressure for my wife, who had to go back to work (although she did check in on us a lot, to make sure we were both alive)!

Shuhei Kondo | LPA II, MO Kuala Lumpur

When I had my second child, I couldn’t take long leave due to my previous company’s benefit/policy. It was hard for my wife to take care of 2 kids alone as our family is living far away. Four years later, when our third child was born, I was able to spend quality time with our new family member as well as my wife, son and second daughter. I am grateful that our company offers such a great benefit to even fathers. I had a great time with my kids.

Jeffrey Scheidt | Area Manager, MM US Casino Markets

Our paternity leave at Expedia Group has been such a blessing, as I’ve recently returned to work from my second paternity leave. Taking the full 12 weeks of new parent leave allowed for both myself and my wife to adjust to our new journey of parenthood while embracing every moment of our kids. Being home to catch their milestone achievements, like the first laugh or the first time they rolled over, are moments that I’ll never forget and am extremely grateful to have.
 

Sachin Kumar | LPA III, MO Gurgaon

“Fatherhood is a feeling which cannot be put into words appropriately, ’til the day it’s experienced”. This was something I was told by my father and it was in the month of February 2019 when I really understood it. Since it’s a first time feeling, I wasn’t sure how it would be or how I’d be able to care for my child. Living away from my parents, with no previous experience, I was a bit nervous, curious, and excited at the same time. Being blessed with a son, he has brought a sea of change into our lives in terms of everything that we do. He has become the center of our lives, bringing all positive changes to our relationship and marriage. There has been so much learning in these first three months: my ability to communicate has improved by trying to understand my newborn son’s crying, cooing, and gurgling! In short, it’s a unique, ongoing experience and I’m loving every bit of it. I hold heartfelt gratitude that Expedia has supported these initial days of parenthood in such a beautiful way so that I could give undivided attention to my son during the very early days of infancy.

David Hamblin | Vice President, MM APAC

Taking paternity leave was an amazing experience and opportunity to spend time not only with my daughter, but also bonding as a family. It was a really important period for all of us to spend some quality, family-focused time. Taking paternity leave when Aliya was just 3-months old, I could also see the difference it made in my relationship with her (I got my first “Dada” before going back to work). It’s a priceless time that I’m really thankful to have had. My team, manager, and peers were fantastic in supporting me to really switch off and fully focus on my wife, son, and new daughter.

Paternity leave: a great employee benefit

Johan Hallgren | Analytics Data & Strategy Manager (Lodging) in Seoul, South Korea

My role in Expedia Group

I started my Expedia Group career in Geneva (Switzerland), covering lodging in the Asia-Pacific region. However, I requested country reassignment when my wife got the opportunity to relocate to South Korea for a new position with the United Nations.

My smooth transfer was concrete proof to me that Expedia Group with its global presence is a great long-term career platform, especially with my family’s need to relocate every few years.

I am happy to say that I love my job. The role gives great exposure, close working relationships with top leadership, and excellent opportunities to drive results and influence company direction.

I am involved in almost every commercial topic imaginable like property acquisition strategy, headcount allocation, marketing, margins and competitive intelligence. Whilst projects most often start with deep analysis, recommendations and deck production for presentation to leadership, I am also often part of building technical solutions and implementing them across our 500+ APAC lodging organization.

This tangible implementation link after analysis is something I value tremendously, especially considering my previous work experiences in banking and finance where I constantly was missing this; I like to both plan and execute.

Meanwhile, South Korea is fantastic with absolutely wonderful people and indeed truck loads of Korean barbeque together with the occasional makgeolli (Korean rice wine). 감사합니다, Korea!

Work-life balance

Whilst I love my job and the company, I certainly love my wife and two kids even more. I want to spend all the time in the world with them, while exploring it together.

Being an expatriate family with frequent travel means that forging work-life balance is crucial for our children and us as a family unit. This is complicated further by the fact that our closest family members are spread across Europe and North America, whilst we live in Asia.

In practice, work-life balance is seldom easy to achieve on a daily basis. The exciting weekend trips and solid vacation blocks encouraged by the company are part of that puzzle. Right now, backyard Tokyo is a weekend family favourite; we cannot stop marvelling how perfectly run this megacity seems to be, and the food is top notch.

My wife & daughter en route to Sweden for baby delivery at 36 weeks.

Another good example of how Expedia Group has been a strong enabler of work-life balance was when we had the chance to return to Sweden for the birth of my second daughter – the company paternity leave benefit was crucial in making our temporary stay there a reality.

We flew back when my wife was 36 weeks pregnant. I have to admit I was nervous, but my wife was a champ!

My paternity leave

My 3-month paternity leave was key in helping our family land well with our new child, while also experiencing the best of Sweden!

We spent plenty of time with family enjoying Swedish nature, Christmas snow, and amazing cuisine, including meatballs a plenty and more than a few Swedish pizzas (only for the true pizza connoisseur).

My oldest daughter has 10 cousins in Sweden, so she could practice her Swedish a lot, and even showed them how to properly use chopsticks.

My oldest daughter (4.5 years) showing her chopsticks skills

All in all, it was a wonderful and tremendously rewarding experience for the whole family to go back. The paternity leave also gave us plenty of time to readjust back to life in Korea before returning to work.

During this paternity leave in Sweden, I also managed to have some classic Swedish saunas with my brother, with a view over my childhood lake where we used to practise competitive rowing. This was indeed my ‘pappa tajm’ (dad time).

My brother’s sauna by the lake, with a free flow of refreshing barley based beverages to battle the Finnish/military grade sauna heat

The value of a good paternity leave policy

Paternity leave feels right to me from multiple angles (company, co-workers, family and society).

  • First off, backfilling the role of the father on leave creates an opportunity for others to grow and develop: as a knowledge-driven company, this can be very impactful indeed.
  • Secondly, it is almost a natural law that new children make parents less productive and worn down due to a lack of sleep. You need a break!
  • Thirdly, turnover and replacing skilled employees is very expensive and time consuming – I am convinced this policy creates loyalty and longer company tenures.
  • Fourthly, from a societal point of view, sharing the responsibilities of an infant more equitably means that a mother is much less likely to drop out of the workforce. It makes economic sense. By allowing mothers to return to the workforce if they wish, you also create employment opportunities for caretakers that in turn create job opportunities around us.

So, while it sadly is too uncommon globally, I think a solid paternity leave policy is a no-brainer and a ‘quadruple win’. To me it is hardly surprising that Expedia Group is a top employer given such benefits, they get it right.

In my specific case, Expedia Group managed to solve my 3-month absence elegantly, by temporarily bringing in cover from Geneva. My colleague Greg came to our APAC lodging headquarters in Singapore; read about his experiences.

While checking the occasional important e-mail to stay on top of things for my return, the company’s solution was great for letting me re-enter without a huge backlog of work hanging over my head. Luckily for both me and all the travellers around the world, the sun never sets on Expedia Group!

Expedia Group Is Not A Travel Company, We’re A Technology Company Dealing In Travel

Kate Bascombe | Software Development Engineer II in Brisbane, Australia

A great manager of mine once explained to me the difference between a ‘Travel Company’ and a ‘Technology Company that deals in Travel’.

He used a pizza metaphor to help illustrate, comparing Pizza Hut and Dominos. Pizza Hut is a fine company offering pizza to their customers. Domino’s is a technology company that uses technology to offer their product to their customer, and that product happens to be pizza. See the difference?

Dominos Pizza memeWhile Pizza Hut cooks and delivers pizza as they’ve always done, Domino’s has invested in technology such as Google Glasses for the pizza makers, drones for delivery, GPS tracking for the drivers, and I’m sure much more. Pizza Hut is a pizza company, but Domino’s is a technology company that sells pizza! That’s one key difference to why Domino’s dominates the market while Pizza Hut is falling behind.

So why am I talking about pizza? Well, it’s the same principle for Travel.

I’m here to share with you the benefits of working for Expedia Group, a company that truly does value technology and the engineers who keep us relevant in today’s tech-driven world.

Expedia Group is a company who understands the value of technology and that it’s not only good for the company but it’s good for the employees as well. As an engineer at Expedia Group, I know my contributions are listened to, valued, and are making a difference to ‘help people go places’.

Expedia Group listens when an employee has an idea they want to try. The annual 3-day Hackathons are a great avenue to propose an innovative idea and have it implemented. This year, myself and a couple of co-workers had our Hackathon project make it to the finals, and even though the idea didn’t win, the grand prize ($3,000 travel award by the way) encouraged us to develop the idea further, run it in an A/B Test, and share our learnings. And we did.

Toy Story meme about Innovation "There's a whole ne world out there. Don't be afraid to explore it."This was literally an idea 3 engineers came up with over lunch, decided to develop, test in production, and release to all our users (if it was a winner). How much more empowered to innovate can you get?

And this is not just once a year during Hackathon, we’re encouraged to bring our ideas to the table every single day. The work we do as engineers is not handed down from a Product Manager somewhere up the line. We work with Product, UX, Analytics, and Engineering throughout the lifecycle of an idea.

It’s our ideas and execution that are valued, not our job titles. I’ve contributed to content strategies, UX design, data analyzation, and product development, and my ideas have been welcomed in each discipline as an equal no matter my skillset or background.

I’ve seen co-workers send a quick message to our CEO because they had an opinion on a topic they wanted to talk about. Expedia Group treats feedback as a gift and welcomes it with open arms at all levels and across disciplines.

Those are a few of the cultural benefits of working in a company that values people in technology. But what about the tangible benefits?

Because Expedia Group values technology so highly, we try our best to attract the best talent in the technology industry. As a female in my early 30’s working in Australia, the standout benefits and perks to me are:

  • Annual Travel allowance, this year helping me attend my brother’s wedding in Hawaii
  • Health Insurance, not normally offered in Australia
  • Annual Wellness allowance, helping me build out a quality home gym
  • Free coffees, teas, fruit, breakfast foods, and snacks any time in the office
  • Friday drinks with catered food
  • Flexible work hours
  • Ability to work from home, I choose to work from home at least one day every week
  • Day Of Caring volunteer days
  • Competitive Salary
  • Stock options
  • Annual bonus, always appreciated in the after Christmas period
  • Access to training and conferences, even internationally
  • Top-of-the-range computing equipment, I love my Macbook Pro!
  • Creative and inspiring office fit-outs

Web designer wearing no pants says "So, you want to be a web designer like me. Is it because you like my work?" Other man says "No, it's because I don't want to wear pants to work."You can see a full list of the benefits we offer on https://lifeatexpedia.com/ with many more in-depth benefits aimed at everyone.

Expedia Group makes the effort to attract talented people with benefits, small and large. These are becoming the norm in the Tech Industry. Engineers should accept that we earn and deserve these benefits because of the bottom-line we generate… and Expedia Group recognizes that.

At the end of the day, I want to feel appreciated by the company I dedicate my time and efforts to. I’m not going to say that’s all the compensation I need but it’s a big one 😉

So let me ask you, is the company you work for a ‘pizza’ company or a Technology Company that sells ‘pizza’? Which one would you prefer to work for?