September 21, 2022

What it’s like to be a parent on the Core Data Science team at Meta

By: Meta Research

Working parents are modern-day superheroes, balancing careers and their families. Parents on the Core Data Science (CDS) team champion this role, bringing the same ambition and passion to their research that they do to raising their kids.

For parents to bring their best selves to work, they need to feel empowered to prioritize their lives at home too. “The culture and perks at Meta Research have made my life as a father easier,” says Amaç Herdagdelen, a Data Scientist on the CDS team. “I can support my wife, take care of our child, and still thrive in my career.” Amaç is one of many working parents on CDS who feel empowered to make an impact at work and at home—and according to these four data scientists, it comes down to embracing flexibility, autonomy, and trust.

Setting sustainable work boundaries

Paige Maas joined Meta in 2015 and became a first-time parent while on the CDS team. She knew CDS was for her in part because of the level of support she received from her team. “My manager at the time was a parent of three, so he empathized with my experience,” Paige says. “The parental leave is incredible. I wish my friends at other organizations could have the same experience, from the generous recovery time to remote work making it possible for me to be there for my kids.”

Before she was a parent, Paige struggled to set boundaries around her workday, but says having kids has helped her create a “hard stop.” “With the autonomy we have on CDS, I’m trusted to manage my time and schedule. I dedicate my evenings and weekends to my family, and when I return to work, I feel refreshed.” Paige says her sustainable work schedule accommodates her life—a perk that extends to all CDS team members, not just those who are parents.

This flexibility empowers Paige to take on impactful projects without sacrificing her home life. One of the earliest members of the Data for Good program at Meta, she recently built datasets to help humanitarian organizations understand how people are being displaced from their homes because of the war in Ukraine. Her team worked long hours sharing displacement data so local governments could support Ukrainians, all while preserving their privacy. “I knew no other organization had the data or viewpoint our partners needed, and I felt empowered to give this project my all because of the flexibility and trust we have on the CDS team.”

Embracing flexibility to make an impact

Tal Galili started at Meta in 2017, when his daughter Maya was born. Even working across multiple time zones and teams from the Tel Aviv office, Tal said he received support from his team right away. “As my schedule shifted to take care of my daughter, my managers and team members were willing to move meetings without hesitation or judgment,” he says. “I was never expected to go abroad or be away from my daughter at that time.”

Tal and his wife created a well-balanced system that works for their family. Three days a week, she takes their daughter to day care and picks her up, and Tal takes her to the playground and cooks dinner two days a week. With this flexibility, Tal is able to be there for his team while still getting quality time with his daughter.

This flexibility was critical during the onset of the pandemic, when Tal and his team took part in fielding the global COVID-19 symptom survey, which ran in 150 countries and dozens of languages. The project involved collecting and analyzing data from tens of millions of respondents and distributing the insights to decision-makers across the globe — enabling the development of policies around COVID-19. “In those early days, the stakes felt high,” says Tal. “I didn’t want to step away from this meaningful work that I knew could help people. Having the support from my team made it possible for me to work on something I believe in while still caring for my wife and daughter.”

Being encouraged to put family first

Amaçhas been on the CDS team for 10 years and was empowered to put family first from the beginning. “My first child was born right after I joined Meta, and not only was I encouraged to take parental leave, but I saw other leaders, including my manager, use the benefits available to them as parents.”

Amaç now lives in Bologna, Italy, after becoming fully remote in 2021. Having attended graduate school there, he and his wife had always wanted to move back, and they felt empowered to pursue their dream, thanks to the trust-driven culture on Amaç’s team. “I feel lucky to have an incredible manager and team, but I know this isn’t a rare experience on CDS!”

Amaç’s autonomy extends to everything he works on. “There’s no shortage of projects to work on, though I’m shifting to fewer projects with larger scopes based on my interests and lifestyle,” he says. During the 2020 U.S. elections, he studied how polarization in society manifests on online platforms and made product recommendations based on his findings. “The potential for impact has increased even since I joined Meta—it’s very exciting.”

Building a supportive culture around parenting

Ariel Evnine manages a team of researchers and has been with Meta for over 10 years. Working remotely during the pandemic, Ariel spent a lot of time with his two young kids, who didn’t always understand that he was working. “I was transitioning from individual contributor to manager during that time, and it was difficult to explain that being on video calls was my job,” Ariel says, smiling. To structure his workday, Ariel committed to playing with his kids after a certain time each day and took breaks whenever possible.

As a manager, Ariel makes a point to support his team members who are parents. “You can’t be good at your job if you aren’t happy,” he says. “You have to be your best for your family before you can be your best at work.” He even noticed that there’s a lot of overlap between being a parent and a manager. “To be good at both, you need to treat people with autonomy and respect, and you need to help them grow. You also need to communicate clearly. I make it clear that it’s encouraged, expected, and accepted to take parental leave.”

When raising kids or running a team, learning is a core part of the experience. “Learning from mistakes is incredibly effective for kids or teams. And once a person has accomplished a task, it’s important to give honest, positive feedback to make them feel valued,” Ariel says. Whether in a meeting or on the sidelines of a Little League game, Ariel loves that his passions and his roles feed into each other. He’s one of many CDS team members who have learned that growing both a family and a career is not only possible but complementary.

Interested in learning more about CDS? Check out the publications section on the CDS team page and the list of references to all CDS articles here.