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
I asked them all for advice for new fathers who also have high expectations of themselves at work.
Iarfhlaith says that it is possible to have both. It’s beneficial to have a supportive partner but reiterates his earlier point about equity. He adds that planning and disciplined use of your time is essential, and to keep your family priorities clear. Nils adds to define your boundaries and defend them if necessary. Manage your shareholders expectations whilst showing that you are reliable for both family and work. “Always be a team with your wife”.
Tim brings up the importance of transparency and open conversations to identify priorities with your partner. He also adds the sage advice of being patient with yourself. Colin reiterates all this advice and adds “there is no manual or playbook on how it’s done” and adds the thing we all forget when we are overwhelmed – date nights and time away with friends; he calls them “Mental Sanity”.
Simon advises to re-think what delivers value to your work and cancel everything else, watch for time-thieves in your private life and get help where needed.
The most experienced Dad – Jose – says that “after the chaos, the new normal will become your new routine!”
Finally, as relative pioneers at RiM, I wanted to know if they ever felt alone in their approach to parenting or if there are fellow father allies at work.
Jose was the pioneer as he was one of the first with kids in the company, so he was a bit alone but always felt supported by the team. Now, there are so many RiM babies and the parent community is growing. Iarfhlaith certainly doesn’t feel alone but thinks there is more we could do to support each other and talking about it is a great start.
Nils also has a lot of allies who share the same values. This makes us a strong team as we have each other’s backs. Tim has the feeling that nearly all the other fathers he knows are facing similar challenges and struggle with getting it all done. Colin agrees with Tim and says sometimes you can feel like you are neglecting your fatherhood duties during a busy time, which can be tough, and we need to go back to prioritising at these times.
Thank you to Simon, Iarfhlaith, Jose, Nils, Tim and Colin for their generous and authentic input. I think you will agree that there are some great points, insights and pieces of advice for all of us in there.