Matt Thomas – Philadelphia

In the spirit of the Super Bowl, our Lead Dad of the Week is Matt Thomas, a former Mckinsey Co. consultant, from Philadelphia. (Note to Kansas City fans: Send us your Lead Dads for next week!)

Matt and his wife Jihye met at Dartmouth’s Tuck School, and for years both of their careers were racing forward. Their daughter Zoe was born 5 years ago, and they juggled like every professional couple.

Matt said he took just three weeks of paternity leave when their daughter was born. “My daughter loved me, but I wasn’t sure I was the world’s best dad.”

In the pandemic, he switched jobs and worked remotely. His wife joined a start-up and her career took off, including more travel. It made sense for Matt to assume the Lead Dad role.

“The pandemic made clear I could be much more intentional about my life,” he said. “I didn’t need to commute. I could say no one could talk to me between 7am and 9am, and 5pm and 8pm, but I could talk to India at 6am or Australia at 10pm.”

Earlier this year, Matt shifted to become a Lead Dad, devoting all of his time to his family. He admits the decision was tough. “A mentor said, the hardest part was introducing myself. You can’t say, ‘I’m Matt. I work at…’ It’s still a little hard for me to say to the moms, ‘Hey, I’m not working now, so I’m here to sell the Girl Scout cookies!”

As with many things Lead Dad, until this role is normalized, a sense of humor and a belief in yourself goes a long way.

His daughter appreciates this for sure. As for his wife? When he asked her what becoming a Lead Dad meant to her and her career, she had just one word: “Freedom.”