“Balancing career with family hurt like hell”

by |
The female CEO of a global beverage company has spoken out about the difficulties of balancing home and work, saying the all-too-common juggling act “hurt like hell.”

Speaking on the 2016 Women in the World Summit panel, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi recounted a “painful story” that came from her daughter sharing a childhood memory as Nooyi was moving offices.

“My desk was being given away to get a new one and she said; ‘Mom, you can’t give away that desk,’” Nooyi told the audience.

When asked why not, Nooyi’s daughter explained – ‘I slept in this little area underneath your table with my blanket all the time I was growing up – how can you give this desk away?’

“My God, what a memory for her to have,” said Nooyi, who joined PepsiCo when her daughter was 18 months old.

The CEO went on to reveal that the relocation also unearthed an old note written by her eldest daughter when she was just five years old.

It read: ‘Dear mom, I love you. Please come home. Please, please, please, please, please come home. I love you but I’d love you more if you came home.’

Nooyi admitted that she’d had to make a “huge number of sacrifices and trade-offs” to get where she is today.

“Through it all, I might be a CEO today and I love the job, I love where I am but I will tell you, if I had to write a letter to myself as a younger person I’d say; ‘Be careful about all the choices you’re making because you will look back and it’ll hurt like hell.’ And it does.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America, also shared a similarly emotional story which highlighted the challenges faced by top leaders attempting to balance work and home.

“When my son was in first grade, he was asked to draw a picture of his family,” she explains. “He drew me as a laptop. Not a person on a laptop – that would have at least had me – just a laptop.”

The pair were discussing how society, companies, and families can work together to allow women in the workplace to better balance their careers with childcare.

The discussion went far beyond offering extended maternity leave and into the long-term challenges businesses face in reallocating work while women are on leave as well as integrating them back into the workplace when they choose to return.

“We have to come up with these solutions because if we don’t, who is going to?” asks Nooyi.
The full discussion between Indra Nooyi, Anne-Marie Slaughter and CBS’s Norah O’Donnell can be seen here.

More like this:

How HR introverts can grab the CEO’s attention 

Outrageous recruiting advice from top exec 

Victoria police to pay $20K to pot-advocate officer
  • mark on 2016-04-27 9:36:54 AM

    It's tough. If you are great, losing you for a year impacts the company. Daycares nearby is the first solution.

  • Yasmin on 2016-04-27 1:37:12 PM

    Yes I agree that it all depend on the choices we make in life. I personally always chose my children and my family life over my career. Though I don't have a high profile job, but very satisfied and contented. Over the period of time I love my choices and my sacrifice of my career.

  • JHT on 2016-04-28 4:16:46 PM

    It strikes me that rather than convey a warning to be careful of the choices ( remember the prior generations told us to stay home ) you should put your energy into helping create flexibility to enable parents to be top performers but still get to soccer practices, parent teacher interviews, help with homework and have real time with their kids.
    My kids and now young adults respected that I worked outside the home. Let's share solutions not regrets

  • Charlene on 2016-05-02 9:03:09 AM

    How is this news? Is it only so because a high profile woman complained about it? Men deal with this everyday as well, but nothing is ever written about it.

  • Bano on 2016-05-03 9:50:46 AM

    I think men and women are not same, We can not compare apples vs oranges. Men don't have the responsibility of household, and raising kids to the extent mothers have. Women faces more problems when it comes to balancing career and personal life.

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions