11/18/2014 04:05 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

SAS Culture, Technology Saves Lives -- Including My Daughter's

Imagine going in for a routine ultrasound at five months. The thrill of learning whether your first child will be a boy or girl turning to panic as you learn that your baby girl, at eight weeks in utero, has suffered a stroke. Joy turning to shock as doctors ask you about ending your pregnancy.

I don't have to imagine. It happened to me. While my SAS work family provided emotional support, SAS software would play another role I never anticipated.

Despite everything, one thing that was amazing to me was that I could grieve knowing I had this amazing support network around me -- a virtual net of colleague friends. I knew if I fell, it would be fine; I would be caught and lifted back up.

My husband and I opted to continue the pregnancy. We researched the condition, monitored the baby's development and devised a plan for when she was born. In the hospital, moments after Reagan's birth, I was presented with test results that helped give us some much-needed direction.

And amidst these results -- smack in the middle of the lab report? SAS Analytics. Software from my very own employer had provided valuable insight that helped my family make significant decisions about Reagan's life before and after she was born. Those choices also meant physical therapy began the day she was born.

And, it wasn't just answers about Reagan's life that these tests provided. It was hope for the future of our family. SAS analytics conducted on Reagan's blood work told us that Reagan's condition was not genetic; rather, a very rare, one-off occurrence. With that information, we were no longer afraid of having more children -- the large family we always wanted.

After Reagan was born, getting her to therapy every day while working was incredibly hard for me. Yet, no one at SAS made me feel like I had to choose between working or getting my child therapy. My managers just made it work. And, during those times, I worked harder for SAS than I ever did before, because I felt so grateful.

As a remote employee based in Texas, I don't have immediate access to the free healthcare center or the fitness classes that employees at SAS World Headquarters enjoy. And I had to find my own pharmacy to fill some important prescriptions instead of using the onsite pharmacy in Cary. But I still experience the best of SAS' widely recognized culture. The healthcare benefits, of course. But more importantly, the work/life balance. The managerial support. The camaraderie. The family. The flexibility to focus on my family without jeopardizing my career.

How do you repay this? There's no good way. But, in an auditorium at SAS world headquarters in Cary, NC, I personally thanked the many SAS employees who worked with, and supported, my family in some capacity to help us maintain the balance that we needed to thrive; and, I thanked the developers behind the life-saving technology that changed Reagan's life -- and ours.

It is amazing to think that I work for a company that helped diagnose Reagan, that provided us opportunities, flexibility and resources to get her the therapies she needed to let her take her first steps. It was truly amazing for us. There's no way to thank the people who write the software that has given her the life she wouldn't have otherwise had, and enable her to do things they said she'd never do.

As a constant on Best Workplaces lists worldwide, SAS is well-known for its workplace culture. Critics often claim that companies like SAS create these utopian workplace environments just to keep employees at their desks longer. It's a ploy to keep them close and encourage them to work more.

My story exemplifies how that's just not the case at SAS. The culture at SAS truly is about keeping employees happy in all aspects of their lives. Sure, the employees love the benefits, but they also love what they do. SAS employees know the work that they do makes a difference in people's lives. Customers can feel that passion in the experiences they have with SAS.
And, occasionally, that difference in someone's life is the life of a colleague who publicly says, "Thank you" to the friends who helped change her child's life.