‘My day is very atypical’: A day in the life of Marqeta’s Vidya Peters
- Vidya Peters is Marqeta’s chief operating officer.
- When things are constantly changing, it’s hard for them to get old. It’s fair to say Vidya’s life is anything but boring.
Card issuing platform Marqeta recently added three new countries to the list of places it operates in, including Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore – bringing the count up to 39.
And while its operations spread, so do Marqeta’s people.
Chief operating officer Vidya Peters relocated from San Francisco to Amsterdam around 18 months ago.
And with her recent relocation, Peters' workday has a bit of a different flavor than the classic 9 to 5 so many people are used to.
The move was a result of a promise she had made to her partner, who’s Dutch, that they would eventually move to the Netherlands so that their kids could get to know relatives there and be exposed to the culture. Covid is when he finally cashed in the check, said Peters.
“So we moved with our family here to be closer to cousins and grandparents, and for them to learn Dutch and be connected to their culture,” she said.
Peters began at Marqeta as CMO, and started taking on interim roles soon after. In November last year she was promoted to her current position.
As COO, Peters oversees a whole lot, from sales, to customer success, to program management, to marketing.
Peters’ series of role changes came during her relocation period. This of course means she’s no stranger to change and multi-tasking.
In a nutshell, Vidya spends her day juggling roles, responsibilities, and time zones.
Waking up and getting the kids to school
“My alarm goes off at 7:40 in the morning. And when I wake up, my number one job is to get my daughter ready for school. My son is not an issue. But it's my daughter who requires multiple snooze buttons, and multiple bribes to get out of bed and get ready.
Their school starts at 8:30, and it's two blocks down, so we ride our bikes together.
So my morning’s about getting up, doing a million negotiations with my daughter to get dressed and ready and have her breakfast.
And then I bike over with her to her school to drop her off and my son bikes by himself. So it's not an issue whatsoever.”
Breakfast, exercise, meditation, thinking time
“At 8:30 or so I'm back home. And that's when my husband and I sit down and we actually have our breakfast together.
And interestingly, my husband also works for a California-based company. So he and I are on a similar schedule, which means we get a ton of time together.
So after breakfast together, I'll usually do a little bit of meditation. I may walk our dog for a little bit, just to get a little exercise and clear my mind.
And then I get to work. And it's my favorite part of the day, because the kids are at school, and everybody in the US is fast asleep and I get to have these incredible few hours of just uninterrupted thinking time.
So this is the time when I can review strategy documents, think about some problems that I'm working on for the business, go deeper into our financial statements, which is what I did this morning, and take my time to reply to emails and Slack that may have come in at night.
And so I'll spend a couple of hours doing that.”
“And then my husband and I will sit down for lunch. And we'll have a nice lengthy lunch together because it's just us and, you know, the Bay Area is still sleeping, and the kids are at school, so it's uninterrupted.”
Picking up kids from school
“One of the parts I’ve really enjoyed in this new setup is that my children don't have to go to aftercare anymore. So I get to see them in the early afternoon when school gets out. I hadn't had that for many years, living in California, and it’s been wonderful to get that extra time with them.
Today, for example, is a half day at Dutch schools, so I went and picked up the kids at noon, and we came back and all had lunch together.
But otherwise, on the other days of the week, their school gets out at 2:30. So I'll bike over, pick them up, and then we'll hang out together for a little bit.”
Meetings and dinner break
“And then my meetings start at 3 in the afternoon. And they go on pretty nonstop back-to-back until about 10 or 11 at night.
So instead of taking a lunch break, I take a dinner break, where I get to have dinner with the family.
In that way, my day is very unusual, in that it's switched backwards.
But now that I do it this way, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world because when I'm back in the Bay Area, I usually find myself at work from 8 AM to 6 PM. And then when I do get home, I'm back online at night to catch up on all the emails and Slacks. And frankly I now really, really appreciate all the wonderful thinking and quiet working time that I get in the morning before everyone in the Bay Area wakes up.”
The secret to winding down amidst team stress and time zone zig zags? Marcus Aurelius, of course.
“A set of challenges that I often see are time sensitive ones.
So there may be a challenge with a customer, or there may be an issue that a team is facing. And you have to figure out how to help the team navigate or overcome that when you are so many time zones apart. And some of these things just need to be done in the moment. So that's something that I try to overcome by ensuring that I'm being as timely as possible, when I see an issue starting to bubble up.
I try to do as much as possible in these situations before I call it a night so that the teams have the time they need to process and come back to me with the information first thing when I wake up in the morning.
So in some ways, there's a little bit of baton passing. And that ensures that I can process the new information, work through it and have something for the customer, let’s say, before they wake up back in the Bay Area.
At 11 o'clock, though, I do try to shut down and read a good book before I go to bed, because the biggest adjustment I felt was how to go from a meeting to going to sleep. It's like your adrenaline is pumping, and your mind is still racing, going 100 miles a minute thinking about various things that need to be done.
And I’ve found that reading a book at night is just a wonderful way to slow down. It's been a really great way for me to end the day.
Right now, I’m rereading one of my old favorite books, which is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I read it for the first time four years ago, and I absolutely loved it, so I'm going back through it again.
I love this book because, particularly in the times that we are in now, it's so easy for us to think that our problems are so unique to us.
We are in the middle of a pandemic, you know, and there's so much negative news online. And we're all working and trying to face challenges between work and family and health, and everything going on around us.
And what I love about this book is that it shows that none of these problems are new. And, in fact, if you go back to old Roman times, one of the most successful Roman emperors faced even more difficult challenges than we have today. Life is not glamorous, and yet, the best thing that you can do is center yourself and your values, do the right thing, put one foot in front of the other, remember what matters and not get swept up in it.
And I just find it incredibly humbling to remember that we are just a very small speck in history. And the Greats before us have seen and done it all a million times over. And we have so much to learn from that.”