Coffee Talk with Women of CHESA Women of CHESA work from home

How to Stay Motivated and Maintain Work/Life Balance: A Brunch Chat with the Women of CHESA

Here we all are, a few months into the second year of pandemic life. I’m sure many people, myself included, are struggling with how they intend to balance both work and life this summer while continuing to stay motivated. Restrictions are loosening, and again tightening in some areas, vaccination numbers continue to increase, people are beginning to feel more comfortable taking part in things, but also there are areas where we are seeing a scaling back again to less comfort. I sat down with a few of the Women of CHESA members in a casual virtual brunch to get their take on this new way of life, the struggles they’ve faced and their techniques for overcoming them.


  • Sarah Shechner – Territory Sales Manager – West & Central 
  • Marina Blandino – Director of Support Services and Customer Success
  • Sierra O’ConnorTerritory Sales Manager- East
  • Leslie Perzan – Federal Inside Sales


Q.) How have you had to change your mindset after 15 months of pandemic life?

A.) Sarah Shechner:

  • I haven’t really experienced the being free part yet because I just got my second vaccine. I think the biggest thing during the pandemic that changed was not being able to see the team and not being able to see clients, especially when I was transitioning them to new account managers. I mean I completely switched roles right as the pandemic was ramping up. I remember I was supposed to go out to Baltimore for training, but things were starting to lock down and I didn’t want to get stuck in Baltimore so I asked if we could do it remotely and we did so my role completely changed during the pandemic from direct account management to territory sales manager operations. 


Q.) How do you plan to balance work/life during the summer months?

A.) Sierra O’Connor

  • I think it’s important to have time that you unplug and completely check out, which I feel is still very hard for all of us to do. I know every time I go to bed I”m checking emails, as soon as I wake up, checking emails. Actually taking the time to unplug and even if that means at 5.15 every day I’m not going to respond to anything. I feel like I’m going to try this summer to take evenings as evenings and not as “extended on call” hours.


Q.) How do you self motivate when the feeling just isn’t there?

A.) Leslie Perzan

  • I prioritize what needs to be done immediately and go from there. When my list piles up, it makes me want to do things less. If I am able to make myself see a “doable” list I tend to be more motivated and then I’m able to get a groove back.


Q.) How do you overcome the mental fatigue often felt from prolonged working hours?

A.) Marina Blandino

  • It’s been literally the hardest thing to do because it’s not normally my personality but for my health, for setting boundaries, it’s something that you have to learn over time. For me personally, I have needs outside of work and if I put those last I’m not performing at the level I can be. If all I do is work and I have nothing else, then what am I really working for? For me, in particular it was important to set a balance and to know it’s ok if I do disconnect and that if I do the world isn’t going to be on fire. My team is aware that if it’s truly an emergency, call me, I’m not going to sit on Slack or check my email. If you really need me, if something is urgent, call me. I think it’s hard especially for women, because we’re trying to prove ourselves ten times over.


Q.) Would you say you work more hours now than pre-pandemic?

A.) Sierra O’Connor

  • Yes but I will say I feel like I do take more breaks during the day. I’ll go for a walk or I’ll do a quick workout in the middle of the day, whereas if I’m in the Office a lunch break it’s non-existent.


Q.) What are you most looking forward to doing once we have free reign of the world again?


  • Sarah
    • Travel, definitely travel. I want to go to Alaska. I want to go to Asia. I want to go back to Italy and back to Spain
  • Sierra 
    • I’m excited for weddings. I think I have five weddings this year that are postponed and my sister is getting married. Being in group scenarios where you don’t have to worry about hugging your grandma. 
  • Marina 
    • I’m excited to see my family. I’m super close with my grandmother and I haven’t seen her in almost two years now. When I was in Maryland I saw them every three months or less. I’m to the point where I am ready to see them and my mom and my dad. This being my mom’s first grandchild, I am super stoked. 
  • Leslie
    • Traveling is definitely something I miss. I’ve gotten to do a little more recently but part of the IT industry and part of this job that I love is being able to travel and network. Being able to meet vendors, customers, etc. in person or a new destination is a human and sales interaction that you really don’t get virtually.

About the Author: Ashley Williams is a Project Manager at CHESA and co-founder of Women of CHESA.

Coffee Talk with the Women of CHESA: This Women of CHESA blog series is where we discuss mentorship, what inspires us, our professional journeys, and the challenges we face. 

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Coffee Talk with Women of CHESA Women of CHESA

The Path to CHESA and My Mentors: An Interview with Sierra O’Connor

About Sierra O’Connor: Sierra is a 24-year-old, Baltimore native that found herself in the IT industry right out of college. Sierra joined the CHESA sales team in 2019 and is based in Baltimore. She is responsible for developing and maintaining seamless communication between the internal team, the outside vendors, and CHESA clients as our Territory Sales Manager – East

Q: Where did you go to college?

A: Long Island University Brooklyn

Q: What was your major?

A: Business Management

Q: First job out of college?

A: I worked at a software company, Paragon Consulting Services, which specializes in software and programming for steel companies. Fresh out of college this was a great opportunity to gain experience in both sales and marketing. I worked day to day with the Sales Director and had sole ownership and responsibility for the company’s marketing and social media presence. This was a great jumping-off point and provided me with a lot of the skills I still use today.

Q: How did you find CHESA?

A: I began at CHESA as an intern right after graduation, very new to this industry and not knowing anything about M&E. I shadowed Jessica Mantheiy, now Senior Operations Manager, for my first 3 months. At the time was the Sales Operations Manager and she taught me the ins and outs of CHESA. This industry and CHESA as a whole opened my eyes to a new world and a vast opportunity for growth.

Q: Did your career hit a turning point that brought you where you are now?

A: The more I learned about CHESA the more I realized this is where I wanted to be. The choice to join CHESA jump-started my career. I’ve grown so much since joining this team only two years ago, and have plans to grow much more alongside my peers.

Q: Who do you look to as a mentor?

A: Jessica Mantheiy is the one who taught me everything I know. She is a huge inspiration as a respected and established woman within CHESA and the industry. I admire the wealth of knowledge that Jessica has gathered in her years and her tremendous work ethic. My mother, Shawne O’Connor, is another huge inspiration to me in the world of business. She also started in a niche industry with little background knowledge and built up her resume to become a top director in her company.

Q: What would you like to see change/ improve in this industry?

A: I’d love to see more women take over this industry. Media and Entertainment technology is an industry constantly evolving and growing. I hope the next evolution of M&E includes diversity- diversity in age, gender, and ethnicity.

Coffee Talk with the Women of CHESA: This Women of CHESA blog series is where we discuss mentorship, what inspires us, our professional journeys, and the challenges we face. 

Have a suggestion for a blog topic? Contact us at