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Vanessa Quigley on being a tech boss and mom of 7

Author, podcast host and Chatbooks co-founder Vanessa Quigley reflects on what she’s learned

Courtney McOmber, for Deseret Magazine

Before she parachuted into the tech world, Vanessa Quigley was absorbed in mom world, raising seven kids. In 2014, she and her husband founded Chatbooks, which transforms social media posts into physical photo books, preserving treasured family memories in analogue form. Her role as a mother, she quickly discovered, was an asset — one that leveraged maternal experience as a formidable tool in a male-dominated industry; the company recently surpassed 10 million photo albums sold. Nowhere is Quigley’s nimble, mom-turned-executive acumen more evident than on her podcast, “Momforce,” where the 48-year-old dishes advice that bolsters the company’s mission: strengthening families. She’s also the author of “Real Moms, Real Hacks: 107 Parent-Tested Tips + Tricks to Save You Time, Money, and Sanity.” Her knack for adaptation is on display on Instagram — where she effortlessly switches from sharing recipes to behind-the-scenes looks at how Chatbooks are printed, and where she posts about her kids. Her youngest became a teenager this year; another is learning to drive. Here’s how she’s learned to manage it all:

Working with her husband: “It’s wonderful and difficult, and it’s personal. It’s a giant benefit because we’re used to talking about hard things and working through problems, but it can also be challenging. We’ve had to learn to up the professionalism in our working relationship and set boundaries instead of taking each other for granted.”

Courtney McOmber, for Deseret Magazine

Time management: “It’s a lot of nitty-gritty list-making and scheduling. I literally slot in every 30-minute chunk of my upcoming work week on Fridays. It doesn’t always flow that way, but at least I have a plan. I do the same thing with our family life on Sundays, penciling in meal plans, driving lessons with my daughter and dates with my husband.”

Women in tech: “It’s been frustrating as an executive realizing how hard it is to find women for technical roles. We need more women getting a technical education, and then we need workplace cultures that prioritize family. I never considered a technical degree. Now I wish someone had said, ‘You should also broaden your education.’ On the other hand, my husband has worked in software his whole career. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom and he was never home. He was lucky he had me to always be there for the family.”

The transition from kid to teen: “It is dramatic. There’s a massive change. Before I had teenagers, I was terrified. But I really love the teenage phase. It’s a fabulous time of life where they are maturing into independent adults. Celebrating my youngest’s 13th birthday, I thought I might be sad about it because now we are officially, you know, old parents. But it is actually exciting. I’m not mourning that phase.”

Making the most of family time: “I make sure I am done working at 3:30 p.m. when the kids are home. I try not to open my laptop or Slack after that.”

Taking (or ignoring) advice: “If I tried to implement all the advice I’ve gotten on motherhood and business, I would have lost my mind. You have to learn to say, ‘That’s not for me,’ if it doesn’t resonate.”

Can motherhood be hacked? “Parts of it, yeah. Most of the hacks in my book are about helping moms make the most of their time with little shortcuts. But some parts of motherhood, you don’t want to hack. You want to savor them and stretch them out. I love hanging out around the table, doing puzzles and talking with my kids. There’s nothing hacky about that.”

This story appears in the March issue of Deseret Magazine. Learn more about how to subscribe.