Why I am leaving the best job I ever had

By Max Schireson , For the Deseret News

Published: Fri, Aug. 8, 2014, 10:25 a.m. MDT

 Max Schireson, is leavinghis post as the CEO of MongoDB, a document-oriented database company. In an online blog post Schireson explains his reason — family.

Max Schireson, is leavinghis post as the CEO of MongoDB, a document-oriented database company. In an online blog post Schireson explains his reason — family.

(Andreas Rodriguez, Getty Images)

Max Schireson is leaving his post as the CEO of MongoDB, an online startup database company. He has recently decided to resign from his position to spend more time with his family — something that 37 percent of working dads across the country say they want to do, according to a study by Career Builder. In his personal blog post, Schireson explained his reasons for leaving and how it will impact his life moving forward.

See his post below:

Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself. Here is my situation:

* I have 3 wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.

* I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery.

* I have an amazing wife who also has an important career; she is a doctor and professor at Stanford where, in addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research on prematurity, surgical techniques, and other topics. She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me. I love her, I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience.

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job. MongoDB is a special company. In my nearly 4 years at the company, we have raised $220 million, grown the team 15x and grown sales 30x. We have amazing customers, a great product which gets better with every release, the strongest team I have ever worked with, and incredible momentum in the market. The future is bright and MongoDB deserves a leader who can be “all-in” and make the most of the opportunity.

Unfortunately, I cannot be that leader given the geography of the majority of the company in New York and my family in California.

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have a meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

In one month, I will hand the CEO role to an incredibly capable leader in Dev Ittycheria. He will have the task of leading the company through its next phase of growth (though thankfully not of commuting across the country while doing it!). I know the company will be in great hands; his skills fit our next phase of growth better than mine do. And I will be there to help (full-time, but “normal full time” and not “crazy full time”) in whatever areas he needs help. More about the announcement can be found in today’s press release.

I hope I will be able to find a way to craft a role at MongoDB which is engaging, impactful, and compatible with the most important responsibilities in my life. As great as this job has been, I look forward to creating one which is even better.

1. Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT,
Aug. 8, 2014

This is a decision that 99% of us will not be able to make. I'm sure the MongoDB employees wish they could make such a decision but he's the only one in a position to do so. It's a shame to me that we celebrate this while being 'stuck' in our own situation. And let's be honest, this guy is just going to stay in California and build something else, he's not quitting to stay at home full time.

2. Tacoman
Tacoma, WA,
Aug. 8, 2014

Actually, this is a decision that most working adults can make. Every time we decide to go into debt, we enslave ourselves to our job and our steady income. If we can live on less, buy smaller, etc., we will have the power to put our priorities where they need to be. The immigrant population is one of the lowest paid, and yet they tend to have the strongest nuclear families. Why? Because they choose to forego the notion that they need their own house with a bedroom for each child.

If you want to have the power to make this decision, rid yourself of debt, buy only what you need, let interest start working for you, and the way will open up before your eyes. I know because I have done it. Live on less than you make!

3. shottaker
Aug. 9, 2014

This story would be much more impressive if the author didn't seem so determined to draw public attention to his decision. Yes, your choice is admirable, but the nobility of possibly sacrificing tens of millions in the future, when you most likely have earned or will earn millions already, is somewhat questionable. Especially when the sacrifice better allows you to focus on what should have been your number one priority (as demonstrated by time and effort) to begin with.

4. carman
Wasatch Front, UT,
Aug. 10, 2014

"I'll bet you $10,000" the average guy doesn't have the same options as a CEO making millions of dollars per yer. This guy made more last year than many will make in a lifetime. While I applaud his life prioritizations in some ways,one can't read this article without thinking that this guy is a bit out of touch with most of those who will read it. Otherwise, he would have made the same choice, and shared it only with his family and close friends.