If you told me five years ago that my work today would focus on mother-centered career coaching, I probably would have been confused. Not about the career coaching side — that made perfect sense based on my extensive experience working in the recruitment industry — but the motherhood side… What did I know about motherhood at that point? Back then, my days largely revolved around chasing quotas, running up the corporate ladder, and planning trips to a small island to celebrate my accomplishments. 

I wasn’t a mom yet. I couldn’t have fathomed how much the experience of becoming a mother would change everything about my life and how I thought about my career. I also couldn’t have imagined how incredibly rewarding it would be to support other women in their motherhood and career journeys so that they could choose to do motherhood differently

Here’s my story.

An infographic summarizes the experiences that led Andrea Bombino at Made to Mother Co to her career as a Motherhood & Career Coach.

Proving Myself in the Corporate World

When I look back on the 13 years I spent working in fast-paced corporate environments, I feel immense pride for what I accomplished and how much I learned about myself during that time. I’ve always been ambitious and eager to plase, and I’ve never been afraid of hard work- three traits that have served me well in my corporate life.

A growing IT recruitment agency hired me a few months before college graduation. It pleasantly surprised my parents, who were convinced no one would hire a Sociology major. I quickly threw myself into corporate life and made it my goal to “be successful.” After a few years with the business, I was single and living the Carrie Bradshaw dream: an Upper West Side apartment, dining in NYC’s best restaurants, regular trips to the Caribbean, and more Tinder and Bumble dates than I’d care to admit. 

By then, I had decided to get married one day and probably start a family. But that all seemed in serious opposition to the 60+ hours a week I was working. I wondered: “How the heck does anyone make motherhood and a successful career work?!”

Made to Mother Co founder Andrea Bombino smiles in a picture from her corporate career before becoming a Motherhood & Career Coach

Seven years later, that IT recruitment agency had become one of the largest agencies in the US, and I had somehow sold my soul along the way. After years of recruiting for and selling to major financial companies and banks on Wall Street, I grew tired of the hustle culture and the blatant discrimination I saw in the hiring practices of these well-known financial institutions. 

I decided to leave the recruitment business I had given seven solid years and after five consecutive years of winning our company Club trip and 40+ promotions (three for myself and over 40 for those I had trained and mentored in the company). 

I had dedicated long hours to prove myself in a competitive environment, and I had (mostly) loved it. Motherhood & career coaching wasn’t remotely on my radar as something I might do professionally. Following my move to Australia (for a boy, who’s now my husband!) I was far too in love with my new job at LinkedIn to really consider how motherhood could eventually impact my career.

That ambition and work ethic paid off, as I successfully hit all my KPIs and over-exceeded my quota quarter after quarter. I pursued a passion project and co-founded Australian Women in Recruitment, a group aimed at empowering the female leaders in Australia’s recruitment industry through conversation and community. It felt GOOD. I was working hard and enjoying it.  

Plus, I was involved with the company’s employee resource groups (ERGs). I led our office sustainability efforts, was active with local nonprofits, and was the head of the Melbourne office’s Culture Committee. I volunteered hours every week to make work an inclusive place where people could feel welcomed and as if they belonged. Sounds like a dream, right?

By then, I had my heart set on a promotion on our enterprise sales team and was doing everything I could to stand out. My customers were happy, my boss was happy, and I was happy to be “a pleasure to have on the team.” 

Made to Mother Co founder Andrea Bombino receives an award while working in her corporate career.

 I was “doing it.” I was on my way to “having it all.”

As proud as I am of those steps I took on my professional journey, though, I cringe a bit now when I think about what those days looked like. I was people-pleasing and striving for perfectionism. I thought the more unpaid labor I took on, the more attention I’d draw from the right people, and the better it would be for me and my career.

A Growing Awareness

Motherhood & career coaching may not have been something I aspired to back then. Still, since the early days of my professional career, I had begun to notice the negative social constructs surrounding women and motherhood. 

As a recruiter, I heard more conversions than I’d like to admit about motherhood (or the potential for a woman to become a mother) and its detriment to women’s hiring potential.

At first, I didn’t know what to say. Or maybe I didn’t feel like I could say something. But as time went on, I began to speak up. I’d had enough of hearing that a young married woman might not be an attractive applicant because she could get pregnant. Or that women aren’t analytical enough for some positions (Seriously). 

I wasn’t a mother yet, but I was starting to sense that Western society was set up for women — the ones who aspired to be mothers and accomplished in their careers — to fail. 

I couldn’t have predicted that my career would eventually focus on changing those constructs and helping women navigate motherhood and their careers, but the seed had been planted. 

Finding Out I Was Promoted… and Pregnant

Back to my journey:

I was over the moon the day I got that promotion I’d worked so hard for at LinkedIn. I’d proven myself and was taking a big step in my career. I was thrilled about my accomplishment and what was ahead.

You can guess what came next. 

The very next day, I found out I was pregnant, and I panicked. How would I continue dedicating 50-60 hours a week to work, with a baby? What would people think? 

I freaked out.

I wish I had known more about motherhood & career coaching back then because it would have saved me a lot of stress. I thought back to the negative comments I’d heard about female employees and motherhood over the years. I obsessed over how pregnancy and motherhood would change my professional identity and life.

I searched for answers and resources to alleviate my worries but never found what I was looking for. I couldn’t have known it then, but I needed someone to help guide me through the changes that motherhood would bring to my professional identity. 

The one thing I knew then was that I would not be a sweatpants-wearing martyr mom on TikTok. Talking about how hard motherhood is but how I “wouldn’t change it for the world.” Because you know what? I did want to change it. I wanted this new role as a mother to be valued, but I didn’t know how to express that back then.

A sweet baby gift including stuffed animals and apparel.

COVID and Pregnancy

The next thing I knew, COVID hit, and I was shuttered into our home and living on Zoom. Most people forgot I was pregnant, and some didn’t even know. I struggled to figure out how to tell my still new and already-frustrated customers that I was pregnant and would be going on maternity leave for a year. I finally shared my news with clients shortly before I went on leave and they gave plenty of congratulations… Along with comments like, “I wish you’d told me you were pregnant. I would have been nicer to you.” 

My team threw me the most thoughtful baby shower, and my work bestie gave me the loveliest sendoff. But I couldn’t help but worry: Would they forget about me? Would my clients think I wasn’t committed? I spent a lot of time concerned with everyone else and their opinions of me and my commitment to work and my career.

I felt prepared to actually have a baby, but operating as a mother in the workplace? That was a whole other story.

Discovering New Passions Postpartum

I worked until the last day of the Australian financial year, and I kid you not, I went into labor at 5:30PM. After our daughter arrived, I spent the first four months navigating the new dynamics in our house while trying to maintain some semblance of wellness for myself. Wellness, from a physical, mental, everything perspective. It wasn’t easy. Did I mention we were in strict COVID lockdown, too??

By the time I was five or six months postpartum, Matt started to tire of my complaints about how devalued motherhood was and how frustrating it was that no one seemed to talk about the realities of this huge change in women’s lives, and instead just expected that it was meant to be hard. 

At that time, I felt like there were only mothers who LOVED motherhood on one end of the spectrum and mothers who (usually secretly) HATED it on the other. Where were all the in-betweeners? Where were the ones who mostly liked it but also wished for their old life where sleep-ins were the norm and picking which flavor of margarita to order at happy hour were the most challenging decisions of the day?

Andrea Bombino at Made to Mother Co holds up a book, "Mama Rising." She shares her journey to becoming a motherhood & career coach in this blog.

I’d talked about wanting to start a business long before I was pregnant, but for a long time, I didn’t know what that would be. Matt pushed me to dive in, helping me create time to get the education I needed to get certified as a life coach and earn the credentials to lead group coaching while I was on maternity leave from LinkedIn. He prioritized time with our daughter and made it possible for me to explore this passion while I soaked up as much knowledge as I could.

I hadn’t yet realized that motherhood & career coaching was where I was headed, but I was on my way.

Exploring Matrescence

During that time, I discovered Amy Taylor-Kabbaz’s resources on matrescence, and it all clicked. Learning about matrescence opened my eyes to all the various aspects of our lives that can change when we become mothers and that the experience is about the journey, not the destination. 

Look, no flower in the world blooms 365 days a year: there are periods of blooming, dwindling, and growth. And no mother loves every moment of every day or flourishes and thrives in every season of motherhood. 

A spark was lit in me, and I needed to know more. 

Returning to Work and Starting My Business

I laid the groundwork for six months to launch Andrea Bombino Coaching & Consulting (previously known as Made to Mother Co). I wanted to help women transitioning to motherhood understand the identity changes they were experiencing and normalize those changes. In June of 2021, just two weeks before I returned to LinkedIn from maternity leave and two weeks before my daughter turned one, Made to Mother Co. went live online.

I was so excited to go back to the office and see my colleagues and clients, but thanks to another lockdown, I spent all day working from home and trying not to resent the time I was spending away from my daughter. Without a re-onboarding plan or a dedicated ramp-up time, I dove right back into my 9-5 job. And, I had a new $1 million quota to achieve next quarter higher than any prior quarterly goal of mine. 

A quote graphic reading "Pregnancy is the shortest ramp-up time for a new career that lasts a lifetime." - Made to Mother Co

I worked on my business at night and on weekends, and during the day, I pushed myself to perform as I did before having a baby. I wanted to prove I was still valuable and had “it” and to recover financially from eight months of unpaid leave. In retrospect, I measured myself and my definition of success based on my pre-baby life and career. The life that had a lot more free time and headspace. 

I was doing it all: Handling early morning wakeups, working toward my million-dollar quota at my day job, earning two course certifications for my business, navigating daycare closures and the nonstop viruses Audrey brought home, and breastfeeding on demand. 

Did I mention I was also literally running marathons through mountain trails at night with my husband because this was his super hairy audacious goal in 2021?

Andrea Bombino of Made to Mother Co poses with her husband as they trained for a marathon, before she became a motherhood & career coach.

You can probably see what was coming…

Burning Out, But Finding My Light

I was initially devastated when I reached 98% of my quota on the last day of the quarter. It felt good to be done with the quarter and to have gotten so close, but I was exhausted. I’d pushed myself as hard as ever. I was burned out. My physical and mental health was suffering, I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing all I wanted to at work, and I didn’t even enjoy my own business anymore. 

Something needed to change. It took me a bit to realize that the small “self-care” acts — bubble baths and Netflix sessions — weren’t cutting it. I wanted to do things I loved and stop striving for perfection. I needed to create boundaries and do less.

In time, I learned to find value in my “work” as a mother, despite most of society’s disregard for it. I found and started trusting my intuition again and re-evaluated my definition of success for the season of motherhood I was in. More than anything, I wanted to allow myself to enjoy it (well, most of it) and stop trying to make it perfect.

Then, I went deeper into my work on matrescence. I realized its role in so much of what was happening in my life: Going back to the paid workforce, trying to step back or change directions in my career, considering having another child, and attempting to navigate an international move. 

At that point, I began working with Dr. Sophie Brock to earn my certification as a practitioner of Motherhood Studies and learned that motherhood is different from mothering. My mind was blown. I learned how society’s unspoken rules impact our experiences of motherhood and that a lot of the challenges mothers face are actually outside of our control. So why were we trying to control so much of our experiences? 

I wanted to help other women understand the changes in their lives during their motherhood journeys within the context of our Western society (Who knew that degree in Sociology would come in handy after all?!) I felt this was the missing piece. 

Andrea Bombino at Made to Mother Co works as a Motherhood & career coach, listening to a client who holds a baby.

Shifting My Focus to Motherhood & Career Coaching

When I ran my first group program around motherhood and matrescence, I remember being surprised by how many questions came up about motherhood and women’s careers. It shouldn’t have been surprising, seeing as I could 100% relate to what they were going through.

As I helped my 1:1 clients prepare for maternity leave or reentering the workplace, I realized I wished I’d had that support earlier in my journey. I knew women needed that help and that my unique recruitment background and LinkedIn experience could benefit women exploring identity changes and life transitions.

Talking with my clients, I saw that many talented and amazing women took major hits to their confidence at work because of motherhood. Instead of hitting a glass ceiling, they were hitting the maternal wall — where colleagues and employers started seeing women as less competent, capable, or committed to their jobs. 

Some would leave their careers altogether. Others stayed but dealt with burnout, the weight of their mental load, and the challenges of finding a work-life balance. They mirrored the same people-pleasing and perfectionist traits I’d seen in myself in my career. Society taught us that those behaviors were expected of us and valued in women in the workplace.

After nearly a year of working with women 1:1 and in groups, I realized that women don’t need to do more, and we certainly don’t need to be fixed, but our outdated workplaces and social systems certainly do need a shakeup. I began to focus on working with corporate businesses to help them introduce parental leave programs, create employee resource groups, and implement strategies for offboarding and re-onboarding related to maternity leave.

I began pointing at the bottom line: happy employees stay at a company longer. Higher retention means less time and money spent on backfilling employees, interviewing and hiring, onboarding and training, and waiting for an employee to be profitable. I started focusing on changing the conversation to how employers need to do better for their employees if they want to run a profitable and sustainable business. 

Andrea Bombino of Made to Mother Co counsels a client.

Now and The Future with Andrea Bombino Coaching & Conuslting

Now, with Andrea Bombino Coaching & Consulting, I’m on a mission to reimagine the future of work for women and mothers, one honest conversation at a time, through motherhood & career coaching. I am bringing to light the outdated social systems that hold women back from “having it all” and holding employers accountable for modernizing the workplace. All while giving women the tools necessary to navigate their careers by understanding the identity changes they experience in motherhood. 

I love how far this small business of mine has come, and I’m excited to see just how much we can accomplish for women and mothers in years to come. I’m just getting started!

Contact me for a 20-minute Connection Call and learn how you can navigate your career path amongst the challenges and opportunities of modern motherhood.