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Care.com’s Sheila Marcelo: “I didn’t experience discrimination until I came to this country”


marceloEver feel like an outsider in your career? Sheila Marcelo of Care.com can relate.

She was our guest at last night’s New York PandoMonthly and over the course of the conversation she told the story of her journey to become one of a handful of female public company CEOs. It’s an elite club that makes up a shocking 3% of all publicly traded stocks. And unlike other female CEOs in tech like Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Marissa Mayer, Marcelo was also a co-founder of her company.

That journey wound through scrubbing floors with coconut husks in her home country of the Philippines to international boarding school to moving to the US to attend a women’s college. Her parents assumed that meant no men were ever allowed on campus. So imagine their shock when Marcelo got unexpectedly pregnant in college. Her husband promised her parents at their rushed wedding she was still going to achieve everything they’d hoped for her. And Marcelo spent the next thirty years pushing to make good on that promise.

She wasn’t only “different” because she was a woman and an immigrant, she was a mother to a young child in her twenties–  the most formative years of her career. And she was frequently serving on teams where men were twice her age. Being taken seriously was a challenge, that at times caused her to lie about being a mom to make sure she was getting the same opportunities as her male colleagues.

We talked at length about the toll this took on her, and how it made her a better mother and a better boss.

One of the most stunning statements was that she didn’t experience discrimination before coming to this country because the Philippines is such a matriarchal culture.

Check out an excerpt of the conversation below.



Get your tickets now for next week’s PandoMonthly NYC with Care.com CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo



For the past two years our PandoMonthly New York event series brought you fireside chats with unicorn jockeys like Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti and Spotify’s Daniel Ek. The heads of wounded-corns like Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley. Media moguls like The New Republic’s Chris Hughes and Vox’s Jim Bankoff. And of course the famed VCs who fund them like Bijan Sabet and Fred Wilson.

This year, we’ve taken a bit of a different turn so far: Incredibly bad ass women who started companies that I can’t live without. Our first New York PandoMonthly featured the co-founders of SoulCycle…. Just before rumors leaked that they may be mulling an IPO.

Next week on Thursday, May 14, we’ll host the CEO of Care.com Sheila Lirio Marcelo. (Buy $ 20 tickets here!) If you don’t have kids or elderly parents, you may not know the site or why it’s been such a revelation for people desperate for a little help in their lives. I’ve relied on Care.com (and UrbanSitter, I should add) not only for finding steady back up sitters in San Francisco but for making it possible to take my kids everywhere I went in the first few years of their lives.

As regular readers know, I started Pando on maternity leave with my son. I got pregnant with my daughter six months later. My husband worked half time in another city. And my solution to this chaos was to just take my kids with me wherever I went. Fundraising. Recruiting meetings. Early PandoMonthlys. They were essentially co-founders.

Finding sitters was hit or miss as audience members from the Fred Wilson PandoMonthly may recall. My daughter screamed back stage for the first hour. That changed when I sucked it up and paid for a subscription to Care.com. (Like most of the Internet, I hate paying for things.)

There’s another reason I’m excited for this particular PandoMonthly: Care.com has been an unlikely poster child for the argument that Boston’s consumer Internet scene may not be as hopeless as we once thought.

As we wrote last week, Boston is once again gaining on New York as a startup hub. I expect that to lead to a lively conversation between Boston-based Marcelo and a New York-based crowd.

Oh, also we’ll have the usual endless quantities beer, Tennessee Whiskey, dim sum, and a special culinary surprise—a Projective Space startup called flatev that’s created a new tortilla machine. (There’s a software eats the world joke in there somewhere…) All that for just $ 20! We only have four New York PandoMonthlys this year so don’t miss this one!