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Can You Do It All? BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 15th 2010

SM: After you gave up freelance programming, did you find a job?

TT: I received a job offer from ADS Associates, but I was five months pregnant. My mother told me that I had to tell them I was pregnant; otherwise, they would never trust me. I gave them the option of rescinding the job offer before they put anything in writing. My manager told me that he had to think about it. I called the next day and he just asked me to promise him that if I was sick all the time that I would go away. I promised him I would not be sick.

That was in August 1989, and my son was three weeks early. I went into labor at work on January 5, 1990. I had my son, went home, and then had to figure out what to do next. I went back to work the next week. We had a nanny live with us who took care of my son, and I would also bring him with me occasionally. It was a terrific company and they had no problem with that. I stayed there from 1989 until 1997. I had my daughter during that time as well. She was born on a Wednesday, and I went back to work on Friday.

I ended up managing programmers, and I learned how to run a company. It was great getting that visibility. When I joined they had thirty employees, and it was a tremendous learning environment. They gave me visibility into all the areas. In 1997, the CEO sold the company to SunGard for $30 million. My boss stayed and ran a division doing M&A. I had options in the company, which converted to SunGard options where I became the CTO. My husband was an attorney by then. We had two little kids and he was in the Marine Corp reserves. We did not spend time on our relationship, and in 1999 we separated and got divorced.

SM: How was the relationship with the kids during your intense life?

TT: We did a good job of putting the kids first. It was the marriage that suffered.

SM: Something has to give.

TT: Yes. We worked very hard at the divorce so the kids did not suffer. We did a million hours of counseling, which helped me become a better manager. We both went through a mid-life crisis. He quit his law firm job and ended up doing consulting for the military. I quit my job and took a year off. I ultimately started BlackLine in 2001. My son was eleven and my daughter was six. The kids lived with me during the week for school and were at home every other weekend. It worked well.

Over time, my ex-husband and I came to better lifestyles. When you are divorced and have kids, you are never separated. You will always be a family. You may both find other people and bring them into this family, but you have to work together to not harm your kids. Over time, my ex-husband and I got to be the best of friends again. We go on walks together. He got engaged and was going to marry someone else, and then he was called to Iraq for ten months.

I knew I had made serious mistakes. I asked him if he was going to get married, and he told me that he was not sure how he could marry someone else when his ex-wife was his best friend. He went to Iraq and came home safely, and we got remarried. We have just passed our five-year anniversary for round two.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Can You Do It All? BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker
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[…] This is an interesting career story: SM: After you gave up freelance programming, did you find a job? […]

Career, marriage, divorce and remarriage again | Smash Company Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM PT