five in five* with shyla helmintoller, project manager

You could say that on some days, it seems like Shyla Helmintoller is walking around with a fire extinguisher. As one of Interrupt’s project managers, she serves as the team’s guide on deadlines, budgets, client relations, and more, spraying down potential challenges before they become actual challenges.

We wrangled her for a one-on-one in the Five in Five* hot seat, asking her to share her perspectives on her previous lives versus her current lives (both in hospitality and homemaking).

You used to work in the world of hotels. Now you’re in the world of creative agencies. Are there any parallels between the branding and hospitality worlds?

My last role in hospitality was as an events manager, and like agencies, there are so many moving parts to manage. Both have an assembly line style of work, where within a large team of people, each has their own little focus area to execute. And because of that if one person doesn’t get it right, it really spoils things for the whole team. My role in hotels and in branding agencies are the same in that sense—ensure that hiccup doesn’t happen.

How do you compare your new home in Toledo, Ohio to where you used to live in the D.C. area?

When we found out we were moving to Toledo, I was like ‘I don’t know where that is.’ I had to look it up on a map. They’re worlds apart. The D.C. area is very fast paced and has an everyone-out-for-themselves type of culture, like a mini New York City. In contrast, Ohio is so laid back. Because of that we had a kind of culture shock when my husband and I moved here, but a positive one. I was super done with the toxic work culture we were in in Virginia, so I embraced the move. It’s a slower pace of life, which has been good for us, especially raising young children. We love it here.

Is your life radically different now as a mother than pre-parenthood?

Before we had Charlotte, my husband and I were very much workaholics. We have both been very successful in our careers, but having a kid totally changes your perspective on things and your ability to work as much. So that’s definitely shifted my mentality, which used to be work is everything. Now being a mom is everything.

How did you get the name Shyla? It seems pretty unique.

When my mom was pregnant, in 1989, she was reading a book and the book was dedicated to the author’s daughter Shyla. She liked it so she took it. I’ve only met a few other Shylas in my life.

How did you choose your own daughters’ names?

When I first started at the front desk in my hospitality career, every time I answered the phone, I’d have to say “Thank you for calling XYZ, this is Shyla.” Since it’s such a unique name people never heard before, they thought I was saying Charlotte. I grew to really like Charlotte and it just stuck with me. And my husband was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, so it had a tie for us both. When we found out we were having another girl, our second child, we knew we love Savannah, Georgia. It worked out that each daughter has a name synonymous with a city in the South.

*Five in Five is where we catch up with an Interrupter to ask five questions in five minutes. It may have taken us (way) longer than five minutes to have this conversation. But it shouldn’t take you longer than five minutes to read them, so we think it still counts.