How Culture, Policies, and ERGs Can Support Working Parents: Insight from Zynga’s Cindy Batang
On a given weekday afternoon, you can find Cindy Batang working from the parking lot of a golf course while her younger daughter practices her swing.
She did the same thing for her older daughter. That dedication paid off not just for that daughter, who now plays college golf, but also for Cindy's career. She rose through the ranks of Zynga while raising two children, and is now the Manager of Governance, Risk, and Compliance at the gaming company.
"You learn how to multitask," says Cindy of managing both her work and her home life over the last decade at Zynga. "You find a way to get everything done."
Cindy started her career at Zynga in IT, then transitioned into security and then into management. Over the years, her daughters have worked on her lap while she fixed computers, begged to come into the office to play the arcade games, and "grown up at Zynga," says Cindy.
We sat down with her to learn more about that path, as well as how she juggles being a working parent—and what parts of Zynga's culture, including their flexible work policies and their parent-focused ERG, zParents, have supported her throughout the years.
Finding Fulfillment in Tech
Cindy and her husband have been married for 22 years and together for even longer. She credits him with a lot of what she loves about her life—including getting her into tech.
While she was still in college, he suggested that Cindy take a Windows certification course. Even though Cindy had been exposed to computers from an early age—her dad built them at home (and, when he lived in Nicaragua, also had his own shop where he would rebuild radios and TVs)—it wasn't something she considered exploring as a kid. "It's kind of funny to me that his hobby became my job," says Cindy of her dad's influence.
Cindy took the course and ended up getting a contract IT job, then leaving school to enter the workforce full-time. This was right as the dot-com bubble was heating up, she says, and when the economy crashed a few years later, right as Cindy and her husband welcomed their first daughter, Cindy decided to leave tech for a bit and become a real estate agent.
"I felt like I needed more time with her, and I couldn't do that with a nine-to-five," she explains.
In that job, Cindy recognized how much she loved working with people. But when the real estate market crashed, too, she decided she'd go back into tech—but ideally in a more flexible, more people-facing role.
She got started in a contract tech support role, then worked for a small gaming company where she really enjoyed the more laid-back culture. As a big Words With Friends fan, she'd heard of Zynga, and when someone in her husband's network said Zynga was looking for IT support analysts, she applied.
Because she'd been at a much smaller company where she wore a lot of hats, Cindy quickly took on a management role on Zynga's team. She worked in access control, which gave her exposure to Zynga's security team. She knew the company's CSO and told him she was interested in learning more about cybersecurity—and had another new role a few weeks later.
"He fast-tracked things and created a position for me as a security analyst," she says. "I wasn't expecting that!"
Cindy credits her diversity of experiences at Zynga with the long-lasting career fulfillment she's found there. "One of the reasons I've been here for so long is that I haven't been doing the same thing for ten years," she says. "I've been able to grow and expand. Now I'm in management, I'm able to take what I've learned and work with my team to give them that same kind of flexibility."
Experiencing a Family-Friendly Work Environment
Cindy's daughters were three and nine when she joined Zynga, and now they're in high school and college, respectively. As her career evolved, Cindy says she always felt like her family was welcome at work.
"I'd bring them to the office, especially when I was working in support and didn't have somebody to watch them," she says. "Zynga was a big playground for them, with the pool table and the snacks. My managers never had any issue with me bringing them to work as long as I got the job done."
"[My kids] would ask me, 'Mom, can I go to work with you?'" remembers Cindy, smiling.
Beyond an open and kid-friendly office, Cindy enjoyed getting to set her own hours. If she needed to take an hour off to do school pick-up, she was able to finish her day at home later in the evening. "I liked that they let me step out and understood that at the end of the day, I'd get the job done," she says.
She also took full advantage of zParents, Zynga's ERG for working parents.
"zParents events were the highlight of [my kids'] day," says Cindy. "When the opportunity came up for volunteers, I immediately jumped on board." She currently plays a leadership role for the ERG, which includes putting on family friendly events and supporting employees by sharing available company resources.
Over the pandemic, zParents expanded to Zynga's global offices with virtual resource-sharing and events. "In our Slack channel, you'll find a very active parent support group," says Cindy. "From new parents asking for advice on how to get babies to sleep through the night to parents asking for help with complicated math homework!"
It's the community that Cindy values most when it comes to finding support at work. "When you have your first child, you don't know what to expect. You don't know what's going to happen. You have this life that relies on you heavily, and it kind of stresses you out," she says. "But you know what? It's okay. We've all been new parents and you figure it out."
4 Tips for Paying it Forward as a Manager of Working Parents
Now that Cindy's own children are older, her day-to-day is a little easier to manage (golf practice parking lot laptop sessions aside).
She knows that's not the case for her whole team, though.
"I know that things come up at the last minute, so I focus on giving [employees] the flexibility that I also received," says Cindy. "I encourage people to take the time with their kids, because they're only young for so long. Work will always be here, you know? It's important to spend time with your family."
Cindy also shares advice with working parents on her team, including:
- The importance of communication. Cindy highlights that this should go two ways: communicating with your kids, and letting them know you're there to support them and that they come first even if work responsibilities need to be worked around; and communicating with your management, to set expectations upfront around schedules and flexibility.
- Spend time wisely. There will always be more work than there are hours in the day, says Cindy, who suggests making daily and weekly priority lists and tracking project deadlines against them.
- Don't compare yourself to other working parents. "It may seem that other parents have everything under control. But don't compare yourself. Everybody has different circumstances and a different style of how they manage things. What works for them may not work for you."
- Take care of yourself, too. "People struggle with trying to take care of everybody else and then they fail to take care of themselves," she says. "If you need downtime, take a nap, read a book, go for a walk, do something just for yourself. Something as simple as that can change your perspective for the rest of the day."
She would add one more tip: apply for a role at Zynga! "This is a great company to be at for raising kids," she says. "I can't speak highly enough about the ways that Zynga enables you to be able to manage your work-life balance."