Chris Saccheri had a great job running the web development team at LinkedIn. There was only one problem: He wanted to spend more time with his kids.
“To be able to have breakfast with them. To walk them to school,” he tells Business Insider.
He was part of the founding LinkedIn team hired in 2002 before the company even had a name. He rose to director of web development, managing a team of 30.
But three years ago, a few months after LinkedIn’s huge IPO, he made the unusual choice to quit that high-powered job and become a stay-at-home dad. (His wife still works full time.)
“I had been at LinkedIn almost nine years. When started, I was 26, single, living in a house with other singles, the perfect demographic to work a lot of hours at a startup,” he tells us.
“By the time I left, three years ago this month, I was 35, married, had two young children. I could see that they were growing up so fast and I was missing big chunks of it by being at work so much,” he says.
Saccheri knows that he was “very lucky” he could afford to leave his job. He didn’t tell us what his stake was worth, but most of that founding team became millionaires with the IPO. If they still own that stock, it’s worth a lot more today.
That’s obviously not a typical situation.
The dirty little secret in the tech industry is that, while pay is high, there isn’t much work/life balance. Long days at work are expected. You are also expected to be available nights and weekends, at least by email or chat.
In the tech industry, there’s an unwritten rule that says if you really love your job, you’ll want to work as many hours as is humanly possible, maybe even more, as the presence of “nap rooms” attests. (Think about that: Why should an office have a nap room? For the times when employees want to, or need to, give up actual sleep to keep on working.)
“It’s ridiculous. I’ve been there. I slept under my desk. I didn’t even sleep. I was there all night a few times at LinkedIn. But that was before I had kids,” he says.
Saccheri says that as a leader at LinkedIn, “I probably could have worked out something where I worked less time and spent more time with my kids. But I really liked the idea of going in 100% and being devoted to them. That seemed like a totally different challenge.”
He’s now three years into his current job and plans to keep it for another five or so. He’s got two kids, ages 6 and 4, and another baby due next month. He wants to stay home full time until the youngest is in school.
His advice to others? “You don’t have to quit your job,” he says. “There are ways you can spend more time at home. You don’t have to work 11 or 12 hours a day, really.”
Most people, even in demanding jobs, can manage to get home for at least one weeknight family dinner per week and/or at least one school day breakfast, he suggests.
“You just have to remember that your family, your kids, those are forever relationships. This is time you just can’t get back,” he says.