Team & Culture
June 20, 2022
· Written By
Ellie Powers

Why I’m joining Oath

In July, I joined Oath as Chief Product Officer and I am so excited to make maternal and family health my full-time job – not just my secret hobby. More on that later.

Even in high school, I knew I wanted to spend my life using technology to transform human health – in fact, that was the focus of my college scholarship essay. I learned a bit about bioinformatics in college, discovered product management, and followed product into tech where I worked on developer platforms and ubiquitous consumer software at Slack, Google, Microsoft, and startups. Now I’m ready to use my background in technology to transform the maternal health experience.

This role is personal. In 2020 during the peak of COVID, article after article talked about how parents – mostly moms – were holding up the sky to care for their families and get their jobs done while support systems vanished. That period epitomized the burden of being a mom: the feeling that while others may contribute, it all falls on you at the expense of your well-being. In tech parlance, a person might be called the “Directly Responsible Individual” or DRI – the one accountable for delivering a project. Despite having support personally, “Mom as DRI” was my experience too, from finding the root cause of mysterious fertility issues or a second ER visit for a dangerous breastfeeding-related infection. Like many, I longed to give my experience meaning by working on problems that would help create the world I want to live in. 

A year and a half into fertility treatment, I realized I had a long road ahead and it was time to get out of denial and invest in a system to better support my needs long-term. I joined an online support group for people going through fertility treatment and became a regular contributor, packaging up what I learned to make the journey easier for others. I also found an amazing fertility doctor (lucky reproductive endocrinologist #3) who diagnosed and fixed the problem. It turns out the culprit was silent endometriosis, a common condition that affects 10% of reproductive-aged women but is frequently overlooked especially for its impact on fertility. My new doctor was always responsive, and no question was too small. I trusted her to be one step ahead with the latest research and practical recommendations – offloading this helped me survive mentally as a fertility patient. 

With my trust in my new doctor and community, I felt the mental and emotional load of infertility lighten. No longer DRI, and no longer an isolated individual, I envisioned myself as the CEO of my fertility journey — clearly in charge but delegating work to my team. The responsibility of finding the silver fertility bullet went to my super-smart doctor, and my ruminations went to a community of people going through a similar experience. And there was a surprise benefit – I found meaning in helping others with their journeys.

Becoming a mom after infertility is like running a second marathon immediately after the first. As buddies found success through fertility treatment, our community became tighter and carried us through pregnancy, postpartum, and second and third children. When breastfeeding landed me in the ER for emergency abscess surgery, my community was there for me. The group continues today as the older kids head off to kindergarten. And it wasn’t just about connecting with fellow moms. New mom life was much easier to navigate once I’d built that network of trusted practitioners, too. I found a breastfeeding doctor a short flight away who finally put an end to two years of suffering from recurrent subacute mastitis with the right prescription. I realized that with each new stage of motherhood, I’d need to keep re-forming my team.

What I just described is the world I want to build for every mom and parent, but with much less hassle. I want Oath to be the best maternal and family health resource with answers and support just a text away. It is already powered by thoughtful specialists offering personalized advice in a supportive community of people going through different flavors of the world’s most universal experience – fertility, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood, and I’m proud to join the team. 

The pandemic made it even harder to be a mom and parent, but these struggles are finally visible. Mainstream culture is pushing individual solutions to communal problems and undercutting institutions and support systems. The cure for burnout is not self-care; it is community care and social justice. Instead of each mom for themselves, we must bolster each other with support and the wisdom of professionals who have devoted their lives to building the kindest, smartest, most empowered village. 

Some at Oath are doing this for the good of future generations, but for me, it is enough to help moms today. You matter, and not just because you’re someone’s mom. Dads and other parents play a greater role than in previous generations, and we want to drive a new vision of what parenting in an empowered, connected family looks like. Oath is the rising tide that lifts all boats at a time when moms (and families) need it most.

Ellie Powers

Ellie Powers loves building products to make the world better