The team of women and working parents building Cleo

Cleo’s mission-obsessed executive team intimately understands the highs and lows of being a working parent. That’s why they dedicate themselves to creating a future where working parents thrive every day.

Our mission to help working parents thrive is critical to the advancement of women in the workplace. This is what drives the Cleo executive team. 43 percent of women quit their jobs after having children. And while many eventually return to the workforce, balancing career and caregiving responsibilities takes a greater toll on women’s careers than men’s. After the exodus of over two million women from the workforce in 2020—with one in three citing lack of childcare—our mission is all the more urgent. “I don’t know that if women leave, they’re going to come back,” says Cleo co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Chitra Akileswaran, MD.

The Cleo team deeply understands the many challenges facing working parents, and working moms in particular, because they’re living them. In a world where only 23 percent of executives globally are women, Cleo’s executive team sits at 88 percent women and 75 percent working parents. This team brings decades of diverse experience together to build the products and services that give working parents the personalized, proactive, clinically-designed guidance they want for their own families—and improving health outcomes and reducing costs while they do it.

We asked the Cleo executive team what drives them to continue innovating for working parents and the employers that support them.

Cleo CEO Sarahjane Sacchetti family photo

Sarahjane Sacchetti

Marketing leader turned CEO by way of political campaigns, specializing in early stage tech companies—aka making the impossible possible. Finally made her way to healthtech 6 years ago and is never leaving

Caregiving responsibilities: Proud mama to Odie (7) and Leo (4)

What does your kid think your job is?
Odie, my oldest, is truly obsessed with Cleo! She’s so proud of what we do, absolutely loves telling people her mom is a CEO, and is one of my biggest inspirations in life. I keep her in my mind as one of my “reasons” every day. The other night, she actually told me she could do my job for me. When I asked what I do all day, she mentioned: taxes, health benefits, childcare, and clients. She said as long as she can add 20 + 20 (which she can, for the record) she can definitely do my job. Look out for Odie.

Why is the work Cleo’s doing important to you?
It’s my personal mission to ensure that by the next decade, being a working mother of young children and a CEO isn’t the exception to the rule, but a rule we all are comfortable with and used to. I know Cleo can and will be a key part of this shift by redefining not just the conversation but the support we give working parents. Our partnerships with the most forward employers—the true “great places to work” in the U.S.—will be the driving force of this change.

Follow SJ on Twitter

Cleo Chief Medical Officer and co-founder Dr. Chitra Akileswaran family photo

Chitra Akileswaran, MD

Obstetrician-gynecologist leader focused on care delivery innovation to improve the accessibility, equity, and quality of reproductive and women’s health. Completed residency training at the University of California, San Francisco and received an MD and MBA from Harvard.

Caregiving responsibilities: I have an adorable, curly-haired son named Prem who is 20 months old

What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve received from Cleo?
Cleo Guides are magical parent-whisperers who know just how to zoom out and help you feel like everything will be ok. The theme that I’ve gotten from Cleo is that in most cases, there isn’t a single action or decision I can make as a parent that will have irreversible or permanent consequences for my child’s safety or contentment. Whether that was around introducing a bottle of formula when I was ill and couldn’t keep my supply up, or having him sit in front of a screen on a morning when I’m too tired to do more than that. The goal is consistency over time, not getting it right every time.

What’s it like working at a women-/parent-led company?
When you’re in environments where you’re an “only” (only woman, only person of color, only leader with children), there’s a fatigue in having to explain who you are, what you carry around, and why certain things matter to you. I’ve never felt that way at Cleo, and that’s because of the amazing, inclusive, parent-led team I get to work with everyday.

Follow Chitra on Twitter

Cleo Chief Product Officer Amruta Moktali family photo

Amruta Moktali

Seasoned product leader with years of experience building innovative consumer and enterprise products & solutions. Always driven by how we can do things differently and empower people.

Caregiving responsibilities: Proud mom of two super girls who are 8.5 and 5.5 (yes the halves are very important I’ve learned), who always keep me curious and motivated

What’s your most classic pandemic parenting moment?
I was interviewing someone while my youngest was hitting me on my head with a small cushion and I continued to interview the person. Best of all, the other person was unfazed.

How do you think companies benefit by having female leaders and representation?
I believe in diversity of every kind—education, background, gender, race, culture, and much more. This brings different points of view to the table that sometimes get overlooked. Female leaders especially bring a grounded perspective and, of course, an empathetic point of view.

Cleo Chief Customer Officer Natasha Prasad family photo

Natasha Prasad

Experienced founder and operator with background leading sales, customer success, operations, marketing, and product teams

Caregiving responsibilities: Proud mama to 4 year old daughter, Anya, and baby son, Jasper, who turns 1 next week!

How has having Cleo impacted your parenting experience?
My daughter was born prior to my joining Cleo, and my son was born last year, so I’ve truly experienced the A/B test. As a leader and builder at the company—including the teams that support families directly—my vantage point as a power user and not-so-secret shopper was invaluable. I got to eat my own “baby food,” and I was blown away by the impact of Cleo on my physical health and emotional wellbeing. My son was born the day San Francisco went into lockdown and shelter in place. In the thick of the first Covid-19 wave, my Cleo Guide supported me through rapidly shifting labor and delivery protocols, a cancelled induction (deemed an “elective procedure” under Covid rules) and my doula being disallowed from attending. She facilitated a last minute switch to a wonderful hospital and philosophically aligned provider group, which ultimately was a huge factor in my having a positive birth experience and avoiding an emergency cesarean section. I also benefited immensely from my Guide and specialist team’s support in the early postpartum weeks and months around physical recovery, breastfeeding, and establishing healthy big-little sibling dynamics.

If employers do one thing to support working parents (besides offer Cleo), what should it be?
Train their managers! It’s great to see employers across the U.S. expand parental leave over the last few years, it’s a crucial, foundational investment. Yet even with generous policies, employees experience a great deal of variability across teams, and managers. Some of us win the manager lottery and work under leaders who hold their teams to high standards, inspire us to do our best work, and demonstrate empathy, efficiency, and flexibility while doing so. Most of us do not. It’s no secret that managers have an outsized impact on employee engagement and overall happiness, and are a key reason for talent churn. Equipping managers with the skills to effectively manage and support parents alongside their broader teams is an organizational imperative.

Cleo CFO Amy Kux family photo

Amy Kux

Seasoned CFO bringing years of experience in senior financial roles in mission-driven, hyper-growth companies

Caregiving responsibilities: Single parent (co-parenting) with 2 daughters, Maya (12) and Lyla (7). After my father passed, I helped my mom transition from being married for 53 years to finding independence. She stayed with us for a few years and now she is successfully independent.

How do you balance a demanding career and parenting?
I don’t think there is a true balance, but certain aspects of life take priority over others. For example, a board meeting and prep will win over helping with homework. But on the other side, morning cuddles win over any calls from 6-8am. Being able to show my daughters that they are just as important as my career, I hope, will help drive them to follow what they love.

On the bad or stressful days at work or home, I remember the rule of 5×5: spend 5 minutes to think if the challenge will have an impact in 5 years.

What are your thoughts on the data showing how Covid-19 is setting women back in the workforce?
I am one that dropped out of the workforce with Covid. I took 7 months to be with my kids and ensure that their mental well-being was a priority. I think as parents, especially moms or primary parents, we tend to be protective of our children. They are our greatest asset and screwing them up has a large impact on the future.

Cleo Chief Commercial Officer Martin Payne family photo

Martin Payne

Sales and business leader in the HR, benefits, and outsourcing spaces supporting organizations that create value for the businesses they serve and their employees

Caregiving responsibilities: Dad to Brendan (29), Mara (20), and Jimmy (13)

What advice would you give to parents that want to grow their careers and their family?
Be purposeful about what you want to accomplish in each area. Focus will help you find balance and drive your choices.

What’s it like working at a women-/parent-led company?
I very much like the emphasis on culture, development of employees, and the whole person focus that Cleo has—our leadership team drives for exceptionally high results and business outcomes while being realistic about the challenges everyone faces in our modern world.

Cleo VP of People Andrea Lessard

Andrea Lessard

People & Culture leader specializing in compensation and employer-sponsored benefit plans across various industries and global geographies

Caregiving responsibilities: Stepmom to Tiffany who is now grown with her own baby, Dash (4 months)

If employers do one thing to support working parents (besides offer Cleo), what should it be?
We all need working parents for broader macroeconomic security and business innovation. Employers should build family benefits and authentic support for working parents into their cultural DNA. Providing employees and their partners with the programs, tools, and resources they need will always provide a return—financial and operational—and it allows an organization to create a highly inclusive place to work at the same time.

What are your thoughts on the data showing how Covid-19 is setting women back in the workforce?
The fact that women are stepping out of the workforce to care for their children due to remote learning isn’t surprising at all. Across the spectrum of working parents (two-income households, single parents, low income households, non-traditional families, etc.) Covid has impacted everyone and pushed families to breaking points. Societies around the globe have had to deal with issues related to mental health, addiction, education, loss of loved ones, relationships, finances, and a half dozen other areas of life. When it comes to professional careers, working mothers are being disproportionately impacted and are having to opt out of the workforce. We know from decades of research that when women exit the workforce to have children, their future career opportunities and earnings potential suffers greatly.

Cleo Head of Legal and Compliance Tsion Lencho family photo

Tsion Lencho

Values-driven startup lawyer looking to make a difference in early stage companies as they navigate the various legal frameworks and decisions needed to go from MVP to unicorn

Caregiving responsibilities: I’m one of six children and an actively involved aunt to four nephews and two nieces. It’s been a joy to watch them develop and grow. My parents’ family is mostly overseas, so growing up we rarely had aunts and uncles around. My day to day caregiving responsibilities center around my dog, Reggie, a rescue that got me through the final weeks of bar study nearly a decade ago.

What led you to join Cleo?
Every day it feels as if I’m participating in a moment that we’ll look back on in a generation as being both historic and a relic of the long march to gender and racial equity in our country. That is to say, that each day I am both appreciative of the momentous nature of what we’re working to accomplish as a majority-women leadership team and impatient to see our exceptionalism become more of the norm among other venture backed startups.

What are your thoughts on the data showing how Covid-19 is setting women back in the workforce?
I can’t think of a starker contrast than hearing the amazing news that is Thasunda Brown Duckett being announced CEO of TIAA, making her the second Black woman to currently lead a Fortune 500 company, while reading about Covid-19’s devastating impact on Black and Latina women in the workforce. Still, when I read about Ms. Brown Duckett, and the career she’s had, I am hopeful that her words and examples can help set a model for other employers as to how to be inclusive of working parents (she was promoted to CEO of a division Chase while pregnant) and particularly Black identifying parents (she described in interviews stories of colleagues making space for discussions regarding racial incidents well before the BLM movement was founded).