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Employee Spotlight – Making the Climb

May 29, 2012

Whew, it’s been almost four months since I joined the amazing Sandy Pic copyBill.com team. It’s been a whirlwind of excitement since then. Bill.com is a dynamic and fast-moving team completely dedicated to improving the lives of small- and mid-sized businesses through an innovative service. My new role as senior product manager means I spend my days working through a myriad of potential features and improvements we could make and choosing the “right” ones to build next. Then, I work with our awesome engineering team to bring those features or improvements to life inside Bill.com. It’s an exciting combination of artistic creativity and technical know-how — I love it.  

When I’m not totally immersed in my work at Bill.com, my passion is focused at home. In 2003, I met my son Owen. He was only two days old and 4.5 lbs. He was the tiniest human being I had ever seen. I fell in love with him immediately and I finalized the adoption just a few months later. Time has flown by since then and many times I’ve felt like both he and I were climbing a mountain so high neither of us could see the top. In the nine years since we first met, he has been given dozens of diagnoses, which has currently been narrowed to three: autism spectrum disorder, visual processing disorder and executive functioning disorder. I won’t go into how that impacts our daily lives or the enormous number of specialists or therapists, or the amount of legal and medical help we have received over the last nine years, but I will tell you one thing you might not expect. Without a doubt, I’ve become a better person because of these challenges. Owen has single-handedly taught me patience, organization, the comfort of routine, joy in the little things, and courage to take on any challenge. 

With all of these new skills at my ready, I have taken on new challenges myself. Through the challenge of advocating for his best interests, I was inspired to share what I’ve learned to empower and educate other parents with children like my son. These are people who really need support and courage to fight for the best possible education for their children. I primarily accomplish this through a parent support group I’ve organized and lead at my son’s small school in Palo Alto

In 2010, Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto opened a new school specifically for children with needs similar to my son called Sand Hill School. The school’s mission is to provide a joyful and personalized learning environment for young, bright children with learning and attention challenges. Owen and I were accepted as one of the first six families for the first partial school year. The experience attending this school has dramatically changed life for both of us and I felt an urgent need to give back to the program that made such a huge impact in our lives.   

The next school year, the school grew from six students to over 20 students. It became clear through conversations with fellow parents that we needed to leverage the immense skills and abilities we each possess to offer support, education and encouragement to others. That need drove my creation of our Sand Hill Families Group, whose goal is to support both the students and staff at the school as well as enhance the experience of the classroom by hosting and planning events and meetings which foster communication and learning for the entire family. The group works closely with the school staff and parents to offer a variety of programs and activities such as school pictures, staff appreciation celebrations, parent training, support groups, and fun, social outings. 

As expected, taking on this role has been a challenge. I learned quickly that parents are a tough group to satisfy and it takes serious compromising and communication skills to navigate the issues that arise. Most recently, there was a significant uproar around the timing of the “End of the Year” Open House.  Some parents wanted it during the daytime and some are working parents that need it to be in the evening. Finding a solution that works for everyone and working with the staff of the school to advocate for the best solution is my new challenge. It may sound tough but now I can sleep at night knowing my son is in the absolute best school possible and getting superior education from a staff that genuinely cares about his well-being. This leaves me plenty of mental and emotional fortitude to take on these – and other worthwhile challenges — happily.  

Sandra Edwards
Senior Product Manager 
Bill.com 

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