I have been noticing a change in the last few years; a lot more men are challenging the traditional view of parenting. In RiM, this has been welcomed and encouraged, a habit that goes way back to the founding days when our owner was very clear that ‘Family First’ was one of our core values.
In order to inspire all Dads (and soon to be Dads) at RiM to be more open about the challenges of balancing their professional and personal lives, I spoke to some of our senior leaders about juggling parenting with full-time jobs.
Allow me to introduce our senior leaders:
- Simon Herkenhoener (SH) – CED – has a daughter Charlotte aged 2
- Iarfhlaith Kelly (IK) – CTO - has a daughter Clara age 3
- Jose Lirio Silva (JLS)– Head of On-Board Retail Europe - has 3 children. Paulina aged 6 and twins Ana and Benjamin aged 4.
- Nils Junga- Director Key Account Management – has a son Ole aged 2.5
- Tim Noack- Head of Business Development Europe- has a daughter Paula aged 3
- Colin McKenna – Head of Solution Architecture and SME Team – has a son Jack aged 11 months
Considering that they all experienced a traditional upbringing yet are now very modern in their parenting style, I wanted to know what their values are for balancing work and parenting.
Iarfhlaith’s values are family is number 1. Equity is essential and they agree on a child centred approach. They are honest with answers to Clara’s questions (and we all know how many questions 3-year-olds ask!), so trust is also core value. In terms of balancing work, IK and Keelin tag team throughout the day, helped by the fact that Clara goes out to Montessori school. Simon has a similar approach with “let a child be a child” even when she is “enriching” your video calls. Being wise with your time and being ok with shifting priorities are further key principles.
Jose says it is not a value, but logistics are key. It’s all about making decisions regarding trade-offs.
For Nils, the key is also taking responsibility for needs and prioritization. It’s clear to him that the demands and needs for your family take precedence and usually it is more about which parent is deprioritising work for a particular parenting situation. Nils has had his son on his lap during meetings with senior people in situations when he is responsible for his son. He has a great attitude to this nd says either he can join the meeting with his son or won’t be available at all.
Tim’s view on values is that they can be difficult to always stick to. The main goal is to do a good job while also enjoying the moments with his family. Mindset is important and having fun really helps.
Colin agrees with the ‘family first’ value. He took some parental leave in the summer and didn’t let the win of a major IT contract derail his plans. Colin has built up a great team, which means he can get the support when he needs it. He is also good at compartmentalising “If I’m with work topics they get my focus. If I’m with family – likewise”.
Not only are the RiM Dads great role models for fellow fathers, but they also help with the message of belonging for Mothers in the workforce. For many years, balancing family was seen as a sign of weakness and a reason not to promote a woman. Therefore, I was interested if any of the men had faced any comments or pushback regarding how open they are with being a true partner in parenting.
Iarfhlaith said none, and that being a parent is celebrated at RiM. Seeing kids in Zoom calls is nice to see and a reminder that everyone is juggling multiple responsibilities.
Simon agrees and adds that it’s probably easier as he receives a lot of kudos when colleagues see him being a hands-on father whereas his wife doesn’t get that same kudos for the same behaviours. “I think we owe our wives and mothers more kudos for what they are doing!”
Jose, who also took parental leave, said he has not faced many comments, but comments will not get to you if you are comfortable with your decisions. Nils adds to this by saying he manages it very offensively. He makes it very clear how seriously he takes his responsibility and that his family will always come first.
In the final part of this series, our interviewees offer advice for new fathers who also have high expectations of themselves at work and discuss whether there are fellow father allies at work.