Stronger connections start here: How three employees used their parenting leave

Viasat parents finding work-life balance a little easier with flexible leave policies


When Srivatsan Canchivaram’s now 6-year-old daughter was born, her entry into the world was without complications. It was a different story with his son.

Canchivaram’s wife Pushya went into early labor and was hospitalized for 10 days. Jayadev – now a healthy 4-month-old – arrived six weeks premature and remained in the hospital an additional two weeks.

While his son’s birth was highly stressful, Viasat’s parenting policy made other aspects of Canchivaram’s life stress-free. The Cleveland software engineer was at his wife’s side in the hospital and spent the first few weeks of his son’s life at home.

“The other nice thing is the way it’s structured; we don’t have to take it all in one shot,” Canchivaram said. “I’ve been taking a day here, a day there, even half a day’s worth of paternity. There’s always the knowledge that if I run into a really tough day – maybe on a day when we barely got any sleep the previous night – I can take paternity. I still have leave I could use.”

“We’re sleep deprived, and we have some very trying days and nights, but the good thing is, everyone is healthy and doing well,” he said. “What we’re going through now is the normal insanity.”

Supportive team

In Denver, business operations analyst Luiza Andersen will soon join Canchivaram in the joys and challenges of parenting a newborn. Andersen and her husband Doug are expecting their first child – a boy they plan to name Jacob – on Christmas Day. This pregnancy is especially joyous because Andersen suffered two miscarriages in 2018.

“He’s a Christmas baby, so he’s definitely a miracle baby,” she said. “I feel lucky. I’m on an amazing and supportive team. People here really care about me. My office partner is planning my shower, people keep stopping by to check on me, I feel very supported. I know if I were working for a different company, things would be very different.

“I’m so thankful to have an amazing maternity leave benefit that gives me generous time off; I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t have that time,” Andersen said. “My husband’s company doesn’t even offer parenting time; he will only have two weeks of sick time.”

Andersen’s team leader has already offered her flexibility to find that right work-life balance for her to transition into after her child is born.

“He said, ‘We’ll work with you’; those are the flexibilities we have at Viasat,” she said.

Andersen’s also grateful for Family Supporting Family, a group started in Denver for employees who are expecting children, new parents and everyone dealing with the challenges of raising a family while working.

“It’s been nice getting connected to people who are going through the same things,” she said. “They genuinely care about how my day is going or if I need anything. It’s a connection that’s not just about work; it makes the company feel more like a community.”

A Viasat baby

For Viasat employees Sy and Danielle Andruss, raising their 11-year-old daughter while working at Viasat has so far been a relatively stress-free experience.

“We have such flexible hours,” said Sy Andruss, a production planner whose wife works in the After Market Services department. “As long as you’re clear with your supervisor, Viasat has always been really good about all those things. They understand family comes first.”

Lea was born shortly after Sy Andruss started working at Viasat, and his coworkers hosted a baby shower. As the shower ended, Danielle Andruss went into labor; she and Sy rushed directly to the hospital. It was the first of many occasions for Lea at the company’s Carlsbad headquarters.

“My daughter is a Viasat baby,” Sy Andruss said. “On Halloween, she’ll come in and do the rounds. And we’ve done many of the family activities – family days at the park, baseball games. Viasat sponsored a tour for her third-grade class to come here and learn about satellite communications; I think they were the youngest group that’s ever toured here.

“People here have watched her grow up and everybody knows her name, which is really nice.”

Andruss said he realizes his family has been fortunate.

“Lea has never been sick, but I know if she were, Viasat would understand and work with me to do what I need to; they’ve always been very understanding,” he said. “To have a company that backs you up like that has been awesome. This the best company ever, hands down.”

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