Working moms know the struggle of balancing career with time for family. In fact, there is no ‘hack’ to work-life balance, as real moms point out in one of our articles. What is important is you don’t lose sight of your priorities even as you go up the career ladder. It’s a hard lesson that outgoing PepsiCo CEOIndra Nooyi learned during her tenure as the first female chief executive of the multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation.
In her LinkedIn post and goodbye letter that looked back on her 24-year career, the 62-year-old CEO encouraged her staffers to “have a clear, compelling vision for what you want to accomplish,” “focus on short-term and long-term success,” value teamwork, be good listeners and to become lifelong students. Most importantly, she implored employees to “think hard about time.”
“Make the most of your days and make space for the loved ones who matter most,” the mom of two writes.
“I’ve been blessed with an amazing career, but if I’m being honest, there have been moments I wish I’d spent more time with my children and family.” —Indra Nooyi
This is not the first time that Nooyi shared her struggles running a household while also heading a multinational corporation (that earns trillions of dollars in revenues).
In the Women in the World Summit in 2016, Nooyi said she made “a huge number of sacrifices” in the family front, even sharing “painful” memories she had with her second daughter. “I joined PepsiCo when she was 18 months old. I lived in the company — I worked all the time. At some point, my desk was being given away so I can get a new desk and my daughter said, ‘Mom, you can’t give away that desk.’ I asked, ‘Why not?”
“I slept in this little area underneath your table with my blankie all the time while I was growing up! How can you give this desk away?”
Nooyi expressed her disappointment that her daughter had this memory while growing up and said that she specifically kept a letter that her daughter wrote when she was 5 years old to remind herself of what she lost in the process.
“It said, ‘Dear mom, I love you. Please come home. Please please please please please come home. I love you but I love you more if you came home.”
In another LinkedIn post last year, Nooyi came up with seven critical lessons for running a multinational corporation, and the last lesson came from her mom.
Nooyi narrated the story of the time when she was named president of Pepsi Co in 2006 and she wanted to tell her mom who was visiting their home at the time. But her mom told her the news can wait and instead ordered her to go out and get some milk.
Nooyi did, but she came back seething in anger. Here she was the first female CEO of this multinational, and she was being asked to go out to buy milk. Her mom's reponse: “Let me explain something to you. You may be president of PepsiCo. But when you step into this house, you’re a wife and mother first. Nobody can take that place. So leave that crown in the garage.”
Nooyi, who acknowledges that raising children takes a village and she was lucky to have the means to pay for additional support, says it’s more crucial than ever for companies to support workers who are caring for young children, aging parents, or both. It brings to mind the ratification of the Expanded Maternity Leave bill in the Philippines — it is a good place to start here in our country.
“For all the painful choices my husband and I have had to make, I also know our family has been incredibly fortunate. Many families in this country don’t have extended family to help with childcare or jobs that give them the financial means to pay for additional support,” Nooyi wrote.
If you’re a working mom who’s had to make a number of heartbreaking choices for the sake of career or family, then it’s important that you also know how to ask for help. Reach out to your husband, because more often than not, he would not be aware that you need support.
“Men know they need to contribute with housework and childcare but often don’t understand how to have a conversation about the emotional work that needs to be done in a relationship,” saysRebecca J. Erickson, sociology professor and researcher at the University of Akron.
At the end of the day, we all have to make hard choices, but what’s important is we think long and hard before making them. “None of us is just an employee. We’re also mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, daughters and sons, trying to balance multiple roles,” Nooyi wrote. “Be mindful of your choices on the road ahead.”