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Ceo's Mother Honest Reaction To Her Daughter’s New Job: Read & Learn - Family - Nairaland

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Ceo's Mother Honest Reaction To Her Daughter’s New Job: Read & Learn by Biliamin(m): 10:28pm On Jul 03, 2014
While interviewing Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of
PepsiCo, at the Aspen Ideas Festival Monday*, David
Bradley, who owns The Atlantic, asked two questions
that elicited as frank a discussion of work-life
balance as I've seen from a U.S. CEO. Below is a
lightly edited transcript. The second question was
preceded by a brief discussion of Anne-Marie
Slaughter's " Why Women Still Can't Have It All ."

Q. You come home one day as president

of the company, just appointed, and your
mom is not that impressed. Would you tell
that story?

This is about 14 years ago. I was working in
the office. I work very late, and we were in
the middle of the Quaker Oats acquisition.
And I got a call about 9:30 in the night from
the existing chairman and CEO at that time.
He said, Indra, we're going to announce you
as president and put you on the board of
directors ... I was overwhelmed, because
look at my background and where I came
from — to be president of an iconic
American company and to be on the board
of directors, I thought something special had
happened to me.

So rather than stay and work until midnight
which I normally would've done because I
had so much work to do, I decided to go
home and share the good news with my
family. I got home about 10, got into the
garage, and my mother was waiting at the
top of the stairs. And I said, "Mom, I've got
great news for you." She said, "let the news
wait. Can you go out and get some milk?"
I looked in the garage and it looked like my
husband was home. I said, "what time did he
get home?" She said "8 o'clock." I said, "Why
didn't you ask him to buy the milk?" "He's
tired." Okay. We have a couple of help at
home, "why didn't you ask them to get the
milk?" She said, "I forgot." She said just get
the milk. We need it for the morning. So like
a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the
milk and came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, "I had
great news for you. I've just been told that
I'm going to be president on the Board of
Directors. And all that you want me to do is
go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom
are you?"

And she said to me, "let me explain
something to you. You might be president of
PepsiCo. You might be on the board of
directors. But when you enter this house,
you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're
the daughter-in-law, you're the mother.
You're all of that. Nobody else can take that
place. So leave that damned crown in the
garage. And don't bring it into the house.
You know I've never seen that crown."

Q. What's your opinion about whether
women can have it all?

I don't think women can have it all. I just
don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We
pretend we can have it all. My husband and I
have been married for 34 years. And we
have two daughters. And every day you have
to make a decision about whether you are
going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many
times during the day you have to make those
decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of
people to help you. We co-opted our families
to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so
we can be decent parents. But if you ask our
daughters, I'm not sure they will say that
I've been a good mom. I'm not sure. And I
try all kinds of coping mechanisms.
I'll tell you a story that happened when my
daughter went to Catholic school. Every
Wednesday morning they had class coffee
with the mothers. Class coffee for a working
woman — how is it going to work? How am
I going to take off 9 o'clock on Wednesday
mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My
daughter would come home and she would
list off all the mothers that were there and
say, "You were not there, mom."

The first few times I would die with guilt.
But I developed coping mechanisms. I called
the school and I said, "give me a list of
mothers that are not there." So when she
came home in the evening she said, "You
were not there, you were not there."
And I said, "ah ha, Mrs. Redd wasn't there,
Mrs. So and So wasn't there. So I'm not the
only bad mother."

You know, you have to cope, because you die
with guilt. You just die with guilt. My
observation, David, is that the biological
clock and the career clock are in total
conflict with each other. Total, complete
conflict. When you have to have kids you
have to build your career. Just as you're
rising to middle management your kids need
you because they're teenagers, they need you
for the teenage years.

And that's the time your husband becomes a
teenager too, so he needs you (laughing).
They need you too. What do you do? And as
you grow even more, your parents need you
because they're aging. So we're screwed. We
have no ... we cannot have it all. Do you
know what? Coping mechanisms. Train
people at work. Train your family to be your
extended family.

You know what? When I'm in PepsiCo I
travel a lot, and when my kids were tiny,
especially my second one, we had strict rules
on playing Nintendo. She'd call the office,
and she didn't care if I was in China, Japan,
India, wherever. She'd call the office, the
receptionist would pick up the phone, "Can I
speak to my mommy?" Everybody knows if
somebody says, 'Can I speak to mommy?' It's
my daughter. So she'd say, "Yes, Tyra, what
can I do for you?"

"I want to play Nintendo."

So she has a set of questions. "Have you
finished your homework?" Etc. I say this
because that's what it takes. She goes
through the questions and she says, "Okay,
you can play Nintendo half an hour." Then
she leaves me a message. "Tyra called at 5.
This is the sequence of questions I went
through. I've given her permission." So it's
seamless parenting.

But if you don't do that, I'm serious, if you
don't develop mechanisms with your
secretaries, with the extended office, with
everybody around you, it cannot work. You
know, stay at home mothering was a full
time job. Being a CEO for a company is three
full time jobs rolled into one. How can you
do justice to all?

You can't. The person who hurts the most
through this whole thing is your spouse.
There's no question about it. You know, Raj
always said, you know what, your list is
PepsiCo, PepsiCo, PepsiCo, our two kids, your
mom, and then at the bottom of the list is
me. There are two ways to look at it.
(laughing) You should be happy you're on
the list. So don't complain. (laughing) He is
on the list. He is very much on the list. But
you know, (laughing) sorry, David.


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