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#MyPinFlex Susan Walker shares how PinFlex allows her to stay competitive in horseback riding

a woman riding a horse

In this edition of #MyPinFlex, a series where Pinployees (Pinterest employees) share how our flexible work model benefits them, Susan Walker, Pinterest Senior Product and Commercial Counsel, tells us how PinFlex helps her invest more time in competitive horseback riding and training. 

In May of 2019, I joined the Pinterest Legal team as a Commercial Counsel, but that’s not where my story begins. My story actually starts when I was six years old at YMCA summer camp. I loved horseback riding from the moment I began. When I was 13, I became really serious about riding and that continued through high school. I competed at international events, and I won two Junior Olympic medals over the next few years. While I still competed a little into my college years, my training wasn’t as intense as before. In law school, riding was my escape and it kept me grounded while completing coursework and studying for exams. Then, it was time to kickstart my career, and I took a break as my work in the legal field became my main priority. 

Fast forward to when I moved to San Francisco and joined the Pinterest team in 2019. It was a pivotal move for my career path, and while I was now a new Pinployee learning the ropes of bringing Pinners from inspiration to action, I was embarking on another journey in my personal life. In Autumn of 2019, I purchased a horse and I fell into competitive riding like I had never left. 

Here’s a quick bio for my best equine friend: 

  • His name is Don Amour – Donnie for short!
  • He was five years old when I got him, he’s now eight. We’ve had three amazing years together. 
  • His favorite treats are peppermints, and he loves to suck on his tongue after eating anything delicious just to make sure he gets all the flavor.
  • He lives a short 10-minute drive away from me, so we spend about eight hours together each week and lots of extra hours on the weekends. 

I’ve been at Pinterest for three and a half years and my role has slightly shifted from being a Commercial Counsel to a Senior Product and Commercial Counsel. In my day-to-day, I work with some of our product teams to ensure the Pinterest product is compliant with laws and regulations and that we’re putting Pinners first, one of our core values. In my role, I also give our teams legal advice as they continue developing and designing Pinterest. 

Before COVID-19, I had a reasonable commute to the office, but the distance to the barn (and traffic!) made it a struggle to get there to see Donnie on a weekday. Now I’m able to live where I choose, which is a little further away from the office. This means that Donnie and I are in the best training program and he’s a short drive away. The other perk of being so close to where Donnie lives is that I’m able to visit him spontaneously for cuddles before or after work. 

My manager and I have worked out an approved schedule where I can block time off during the day to ride and take lessons with my coach. The coach that I work with helps me train Donnie and continue my training as a rider. She works during standard working hours, so having a flexible schedule at Pinterest allows me to take an hour or two during my day to invest in riding.

The good news is that I’m still competing, not at the international scale that I used to, but I compete at the regional, state and local levels. Competitions aren’t always nearby. They can be hours away – often in Southern California. The great thing about PinFlex is that I no longer need to take time off for all of the days spent traveling and attending competitions. I’m able to work from anywhere that a competition is being held. Riding and spending time around horses makes me feel more energized and inspired which carries into my day-to-day work. I’m so grateful to have a working model where I can work from home and continue to invest time in my hobbies. Horses keep me grounded just like they have my whole life, and this truly helps me maintain a work-life balance. 

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