An inside look at the life of Working Mother Magazine's 2018 Mother of the Year
May 15 2019
As the mother of three teenage sons, a full-time employee, a student working on her MBA and an athlete preparing to compete in her 10th Ironman Triathlon competition, Anna Clausen is in a league of her own. Through dedication and hard work in both her professional and personal lives, this Abbott Diagnostics' Product Manager is an inspiring example of the versatility of Abbott employees across the globe.
She began her career at Abbott in 1995 as a work order auditing technician. "I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare," she says. "My father passed away from cancer at a young age, and that made an impression on me. I was always going to hospitals and appointments with him, and those experiences piqued my interest."
Once Clausen joined the team at Abbott, she knew she was in the right place. "The opportunities for growth and advancement and the benefits the company offers to working mothers fit my personal and career goals long term," she explains. She worked her way up through the ranks, holding eight different roles over the course of her career.
Now, she is focused on completing her MBA and exploring management-level positions. "I've discovered that I have a passion for developing people. I'm able to see the potential in another person, just as someone else saw potential in me, and I want to do that for others," she asserts.
Enjoying the Challenge
Clausen doesn't have superhuman confidence or abilities — what she does have is drive, passion and a highly supportive work culture. She says her current role as a product manager is one she would never have imagined even applying for.
As a scientist with a biology degree, Clausen had some initial hesitation about taking on a customer-centric marketing position: She would need to shift her focus away from R&D to take on the perspective of the customer. With encouragement and endorsement from management and the prospect of conquering a new challenge, she went for it. "In this role, I focus on ensuring our brand is consistent across the products we are launching and that our marketing supports our value proposition," Clausen explains.
"I am learning to be truly confident in myself and my abilities. As a competitive person, I've needed to overcome my sense of fear that I won't be able to be the high performer in the role. Instead, I enjoy the learning and the challenge." Just like she does as an athlete, Clausen says she pushes herself into that uncomfortable space in order to get better.
Supporting Her Goals
Clausen has undoubtedly developed and expanded her skill set at Abbott over the years, but that would not have been possible just anywhere. She proactively sought out ways to tackle every one of her goals — starting with becoming a successful working mother. All three of her sons attended the onsite daycare Abbott provides, and when they were infants, she had access to a lactation room where she could comfortably nurse them.
Clausen recalls, "The daycare environment here was wonderful. I could see them during lunch. My management over the years supported me taking time to nurse them or check-in. They knew I could manage my work goals and deadlines along with my mom duties."
Her managers weren't the only ones who took notice: Clausen was recognized as the 2018 Working Mother of the Year by Working Mother Magazine.
When she decided to take on the MBA program, Clausen received just as much enthusiasm from her team. By harnessing available Abbott resources, she pursued a goal that was mutually beneficial for both her and the company. "They approved things like tuition reimbursement and the flexibility to leave early and work from home if necessary. I couldn't do it otherwise," she says.
As she trains for her 10th Ironman Triathlon, Clausen knows the company will be behind her again come race day. This demanding competition requires her to maintain a high level of fitness and overall health, a lifestyle Abbott supports that only makes her stronger in her job.
Making It a Reality
Even with Abbott's help, juggling all of these responsibilities and interests is quite the feat. For her, Clausen says a detailed but flexible schedule is the key.
"From getting up at 4 a.m. to work out and getting the kids ready to working on homework at night and making dinner, everything is timed carefully. I know my priorities. My kids are number one, and if I need to miss a workout for something more important, then I make that choice," she explains. "When things change, I make adjustments. I don't let changes upset me. It's about giving yourself room to flex."
Now that her sons are older, she is able to share with them how much she values her work at Abbott. "My youngest was able to come to Abbott for a kids' day to see what we do, see where I work, meet my coworkers and do some fun activities related to science. He now has a deeper understanding of what I do, and it's great," says Clausen.
Having successfully navigated this path, she has some excellent advice for women who have concerns about managing a family and a career: "Find someone who is currently a working mom and ask lots of questions. Find out what works, what doesn't, how it affects your life, what challenges they faced. Talking with someone who's done it is invaluable in helping you figure out how it could work for you."
As for future goals, Clausen says she wants to be a role model for her kids and family, become a legacy Ironman athlete and help others recognize and achieve their potential. Clausen says, "My career at Abbott blends work that I'm passionate about with a supportive environment where I know I can achieve any goal I set for myself."
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