We’ve often heard from founders that running a business can be a 24-hour experience. Still, recently, many of us are denouncing hustle culture for a balance of our own. As women who wear multiple hats, how we spend each moment of the day matters.

For Black women, time is precious, but often we forget that the time we spend outside of building our empires is just as important. In this ESSENCE.com series, we’ll get the scoop on how some of your favorite entrepreneurs and executives are spending time off the clock to refuel, recenter and to remember their north stars.

Meet Kay Malcolm, Senior Director, Database Product Management at Oracle, Alpharetta, Georgia, 44

From childhood, Kay Malcolm always had a love for math and science. To no surprise, that love would turn into an engineering career that has expanded to bring more people of color and women into the tech and STEM industries. She does this through her Coursera classes, Lashes. Love. Technology. vlog or through partnerships with HBCUs. “My team and I just finished teaching a popular class at Howard University called Applied Database Systems,” Malcolm said. “They needed to see a person of color thriving in technical spaces to know it’s possible.” With the class’s success this year, it will soon be available to over 5,000 institutions globally and translated into nine languages.

Through each of her endeavors, she has been supported by her company, including an opportunity to create a platform called Oracle LiveLabs two years ago. “It is my personal offering to our users. It’s totally free to any user, paying or non-paying,” she explained. The app includes over 500 workshops developed by Oracle employees. “After less than two years, we’re at 2.5 million views,” Malcolm said. 

Malcolm has spent almost ten years working at Oracle. Today she manages a team of database product managers who develop strategies and programs to support customers. “I like to think of my team as a service organization whose main goal is to support the technical journey of our users. We focus squarely on our customer’s needs,” she explained. As Malcolm continues to open doors within the tech space, this busy engineer shares with ESSENCE how she ensures she is taking care of herself when she is off the clock.

She’s a self-proclaimed gym rat.

Malcolm makes it a habit to spend time in the gym in the mornings. “My hubby and I are gym rats. We work out at our local gym every morning,” she said. When the couple is in the gym, they spend time working the weights and stay committed to high protein diets. She believes she can out squat anyone in the gym, including her husband.  

“I love the way muscles shape my body. I have accepted I’m never going to be a skinny mini, I choose to love the body I’m in, and I’ll take being a brick house any day; I love that these thighs and booty are finally in style!” Malcolm exclaimed. Spending time on her wellness in the mornings helps her set the tone for the day.

She reclaims her time on Fridays.

“One Friday out of every month is Kay Day. It’s a date with myself that I don’t miss,” she shared. Malcolm ensures she has personal time for herself by dedicating a day out of the month. During Kay Days, she has a standing appointment for a facial at Elaine Sterling, a beauty school in Atlanta. “It’s affordable, and they are up on the latest technology,” Malcolm shared. After her facial, she wanders through a nearby craft store to get inspired about a creative project she wants to work on for the next four weeks. Past projects have included hand-knitted weighted blankets, custom bags for her friends, and Lashes.Love.Tech merch that she made with Cricut. “These projects kept me sane and centered during Covid,” she added.

Dancing is her north star.

One thing Malcolm has to incorporate into her week is dancing. “I’m a dancer! Before Covid, I had this super popular dance class at the Atlanta YMCA that pulled 50 people in on a Saturday,” Malcolm shared. Her love for dancing is why she has the nickname “Hip hop engineer.” She misses those in-person classes where her students would dance, twerked and learn about one another, but now she has moved her classes online. “I’m combining dance routines with advice on succeeding in the workplace and using social media as a vehicle to create a brand for yourself,” she said. Malcolm took a while before she shared with her colleagues that she was a dance instructor, but once she did, Malcolm helped a leader learn a routine for their daughter’s wedding. “Hip hop was not ‘corporate’; I never talked about it initially, then I included it in an intro,” Malcolm explained. “When I’m my full self, my soul doesn’t have to work as hard.”

Makes a budget for a good time.

However, another way she relaxes after a long week is to dedicate Fridays to hosting friends at the Malcolm house for a themed margarita night. “Our friends love them and know they’ll always have drinks and appetizers on Fridays!” Malcolm exclaimed. She looks forward to Margarita Fridays and the chance to reconnect with her friends after a long week. Spending time with them is a way she refuels. “Due to Covid, we lost so much of that, and that’s why we wrote Margarita Fridays into the budget. Honestly, it keeps me going all week,” she said.

Why is being off the clock important?

Malcolm doesn’t have to put much thought into when she needs a day off because one of the perks of working at Oracle is that paid time off is unlimited. “I definitely take full advantage of those,” she said.

In those moments, she feels depleted when she knows it’s time to get away and be off the clock. “I closely guard my time and put things in segments. There is work time, there is mentor time, there is gym time and there is Kay time,” Malcolm said. It can be challenging to be an innovator and a change maker, and with the work she does leading her team, she needs to recharge to function.