Ushering in a New Era…and a New President! Meet Saana Rapakko Hunt

This year, at The Mom Project, we have welcomed a flurry of exciting changes. Between unveiling a new brand and reaching 1 million moms, dads, and allies on our platform, we’re celebrating significant milestones and achievements.

And we know that none of this would be possible without our hard-working leaders who inspire us to give our all each and every day. Great leadership requires unique skills that don’t always come naturally. Lucky for us, the new president of The Mom Project, Saana Rapakko Hunt, exemplifies what a great leader should be. Saana inspires confidence not only through her visionary approach but also with her willingness to dive into the trenches and do what it takes to get things done.

Saana began her time at The Mom Project as Chief Product Officer. In this role, she oversaw tremendous enhancements that accelerated our growth and set the stage for a new era we only once imagined. Now, with Saana as president, we can’t wait to see what’s next.

We sat down with Saana to explore her journey to The Mom Project and learn why she is so passionate about creating opportunities for moms.

Before we dive into the promotion, let’s start with your background. Where did your career begin, and how did you uncover your professional path that brought you to TMP?

I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in business when I graduated from college but had no clue beyond that. I ended up spending the first few years of my career in management consulting at McKinsey which was a fantastic learning opportunity and a great way to gain a broad business foundation. I then worked at a number of startups where I was fortunate to discover my passion for product and building & scaling businesses from the ground up. I also grew up with a working mother who absolutely worked her butt off to give me and my two siblings a better life. I knew how hard it was for her and have always been passionate about making it more realistic to be both a present parent and successful at work.

Walk us through your experience at TMP. What makes you passionate about The Mom Project? 

I am hugely passionate about our mission and making it possible for women to thrive in both their careers and as active caregivers. I have worked in the tech industry for almost 15 years and the reality is that I was often one of the few women in the room. I had gotten used to it in many ways but it also started to feel more lonely after I had children. Many of the men I worked with had stay-at-home partners which was great but made it hard for me to relate with them. I reached a point after having my second child where I was truly questioning – why do we force moms (and working parents more broadly) to make this black and white question between work and family? I’ve always known that I want both. Working at The Mom Project is my way to help make that happen both for myself and the 1M other women who have joined our platform.

Tell us about your new role. What are you most excited to tackle in your first 6 months? 

I’m really enjoying the opportunities we have to adopt shared goals across teams and strengthen our cross-functional collaboration.

We just reached a monumental milestone - 1M moms on our talent platform. What does it mean to you to be fueling TMP’s mission of unlocking 3B in economic opportunity for Mom? 

I am deeply passionate about our mission. I am fortunate to be in a position where my husband and I discuss how we split our responsibilities and who is leaning in vs. out of their career at any specific point in time. I’m also aware that there are many women who don’t have that choice – they have to work to provide for their families. I am here in service of women at every point in their career journey and helping them find the dream job they’re looking for.

What advice would you give to other women trying to break into the tech industry? 

Try to find opportunities to get to know others in the tech industry and work on projects or internships that are tangentially related at the very least. That way you have something to speak to when someone asks you about your relevant experience.

The fun details

Work-life integration is hugely important to us at The Mom Project, and we love learning about all facets of our co-workers. Here are a few fun tidbits that illustrate how Saana brings her whole true self to work.

Morning person or night owl? 

Definitely, a night owl, although I’ve had to adjust with kids. By the time I get to my desk at home by 9am I feel like I’ve already lived through most of a day between making breakfast / school lunches, getting the kids out the door, doing school drop-off, and taking care of the dog. That being said, I feel incredibly privileged to have that time with my kids in the morning even if it does sometimes feel a bit rushed.

What motivates you at work? 

Solving hard problems, working with kind people, and having an impact. The Mom Project has been an incredible combination of all three.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? 

I’m really good at buying books but then have a hard time finding the time to actually read them. I’m much more likely to be found listening to podcasts.

Best piece of career advice given to you?

Rather than raising just problems to your manager, also come prepared with potential solutions. This is more likely to generate a productive conversation.

Also, failures are only failures if you’re not learning from them. With Saana at the helm, we couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds for The Mom Project, and for the world, as we continue our mission to create more equitable workspaces.

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