Being a working mom isn’t easy. You’ve got to deal with persnickety personalities, restrictions on screen time, sudden tantrums and late-night homework. And that’s just at the office.
The winners of the She Runs It 2019 Working Mothers of the Year Awards know that balance can be more of a pipedream than a reality. But they have the commitment, sacrifice and passion to do what it takes to be successful at home, at the office and in their communities.
Each year, She Runs It honors women who have achieved outstanding business results while also serving as strong role models or mentors at work, at home and within their communities. This year’s 22 honorees—along with three “best companies for working families”—will be celebrated on February 28 at a luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.
And check out the following profiles for their answers and insights on how they make the most of their hectic lives.
VP, Business Operations
Runeari has dedicated her nine-year career to helping address the cleanliness challenges in digital advertising. She listens to the needs of the world’s largest advertisers and publishers and helps them exceed their brand goals.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “Being a type-A, cannot-fail-under-any-circumstances personality has its peaks and valleys, but through motherhood, I’ve managed to understand that balance in all aspects of life brings out the best in me as an employee.”
The difference between being a manager at work and at home: “I’m a mom at work and a mom at home. I’ve had the amazing experience to share in the highest of highs and lowest of lows with my coworkers, just like I do at home.”
Her must-have working parent app: “Spotify. The piano (no lyrics) station is game changing both in parenting and work to keep things Zen.”
Executive Creative Director
Trained as an industrial designer and passionate about innovation, Huni has held creative leadership roles at Grey NY, McCann, R/GA (London) and Publicis (Paris).
How work success helps her succeed at motherhood: “I am not built to be a stay-at-home mom. My success at work, even if draining, brings a fulfilled mother back home.”
Best piece of work advice from her kids: “’Listen to me’ is something that my kids often tell me, because I like to take the lead and decide what I think is best for them [and it] isn’t always true.”
Judgement-free zone: “I really respect women who decide not to have kids. I would love for us to be more supportive and less judge-y of one another.”
SVP, Managing Director – J3 Studio
J3 UM Worldwide
Over a decade ago, Gorecki built and helped launch the branded content practice within UM & J3. Today, she leads the J3 Studios operation across the entire Johnson & Johnson portfolio.
The working parent misconception that she’d like to go away: “The biggest misconception is that working parents don’t work as hard as non-parents in the workplace. Given flexible work schedules, non-parents sometimes perceive that work ends if you’re not sitting at your desk, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Her must-have working parent app: “Amazon. It lets me purchase anything I need for my family on-the-go.”
Showing how it’s done: “I’ve been privileged to be surrounded by strong working mom role models that gave me the tools and flexibility to thrive as a working mother myself. As leaders, we need to advocate for keeping women in the workplace, while helping them achieve their career and family goals.”
Head of Diversity & Cross-Cultural Marketing
Mallick is a corporate change maker who believes corporations have a responsibility to make a social impact. Under her leadership, Unilever was named the number-one company for working mothers.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “I am much more balanced and calmer at work. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”
Best piece of work advice from her kids: “Momma, get off your phone.”
The difference between being a manager at work and at home: “At home, as a manager, I can give time outs, take away beanie babies, and say no treat tonight. Those tactics don’t work as well at work.”
Mary Beth West
SVP, Chief Growth Officer
Named by Black Enterprise as one of the 100 most powerful people in corporate America in 2017, West, a seasoned CPG executive, oversees Hershey’s growth strategy.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “Being a mom keeps my feet firmly planted in reality. It gives my life balance and helps me remember that the only title that really matters is ‘mom.’”
The working parent misconception that she’d like to go away: “Work-life balance as the ambition. Balance is impossible. Take it one day at a time. And sometimes that means my ‘home office’ is me sitting in my car in the parking lot of my kids’ school trying to watch my daughter’s soccer game while I am on a conference call.”
The most embarrassing thing she’s done as a working parent: “I introduced myself to a teacher at school and told her that my son was in Mrs. Francis’s class. She said, ‘Yes, I know. I’m Mrs. Francis.’ Oops.”
VP/GM Marketing, Partnerships & Global Digital Innovation
Zlotsky is a visionary and entrepreneurial digital marketing executive, brand builder and thought leader driving transformational change and redefining user experiences for Fortune 100 companies and start-ups.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “I always felt that if I prepared, studied and worked hard enough, I could control the circumstance and the outcome. And when I had kids, I quickly realized that it’s not going to be possible. Life is messy. This was a good lesson for work.”
The working parent misconception that she’d like to go away: “That we can and should do it all. The truth is, it’s just not possible. I often hear young women overwhelmed with this idea and I always try to share how chaotic my life can be to let them know that they are not alone.”
The end-of-the-day recap: “We’ve started a family tradition where we ask four questions at the end of each day: What was the best part of your day? What was the worst? When were you brave? When were you kind? I love this part of the nightly routine.”
SVP & CMO
A high-energy, results-driven leader, Gersch is known for her strong creative and strategic capabilities and her successful management of internal creative teams and external agencies.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “Being a mom has made me as efficient as they come. As a mom of three who spends my time on endless sidelines, driving carpools and then trying to find quality time at home, I’ve learned that every minute of every day counts”
Her must-have working parent app: “I can’t live without my calendar. I have a color-coded system for work meetings, personal appointments and all of my kids’ schedules. I know it’s simple, but I would be lost without it.”
Surprise! “I was on a video conference call with our CEO and other members of the Old Navy leadership team when my five-year-old walked into my home office and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Everyone laughed and thought it was a sweet moment. It was a nice reminder that I can bring my whole self to work and that my team understands and loves that I’m also a mom.”
SVP, National Programmatic Strategy
With Mediabrands since 2010, Kigel currently weaves programmatic excellence into client strategies, increasing programmatic fluency among partner agencies and advertisers.
The working parent misconception that she’d like to go away: ”That working moms and dads have the same struggles. It is no question that being a working mom is difficult, and many of the challenges we face are specific to moms. But there are also many challenges that are unique to working fathers and partners that we need to recognize and support.”
The most embarrassing thing she’s done as a working parent: “Probably just the sudden, frequent and sometimes unexplained outburst of tears in the transition back to work from maternity leave. Crying is the new smiling.”
The caregiver conundrum: “Being a mother has opened my eyes to how we need to support caregivers in all capacities. Many leaders would be shocked to find the volume of their workforce that are caregivers to their immediate or extended family, and things like flexible work arrangements can do so much to help.”
EVP, Digital Investment
A media industry veteran now at Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi, Bronson leads marketplace strategy and positioning across digital and publishing for all the network’s agencies in the U.S.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “Before I was a mother, I wasn’t as good at setting boundaries as I am now. I’m far from being a pro, but I’ve definitely developed the ability to understand projects in terms of what is required and what is nice-to-have.”
The working parent misconception that she’d like to go away: “That we use our kids as an excuse to do less work, and that once we have kids, we expect childless people to pick up the slack. Being a working parent is hard, but we’re just as leaned-in as everyone else.”
The most embarrassing thing she’s done as a working parent: “I had to congratulate my toddler-aged son on a potty-training achievement in an open-plan office.”
A seasoned media executive, Ryan was named SVP and publisher of People in 2018, where she directs integrated national sales across print, digital, video and social.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “Being a working mom, has enabled me to consistently demonstrate patience and empathy both at home and in the office.”
How work success helps her succeed at motherhood: “My professional success has shown my children that by working hard, having goals and staying positive, you can and will succeed.
Her must-have working parent app: “When my children were younger and we had a nanny full time, we all relied on the Cozi app to keep every family member organized, connected and on time for all activities. It was a life saver.”
EVP, Director Data Solutions,
BBDO New York
Since joining BBDO New York’s leadership team in 2015, Allan has been building the analytical and marketing science practice, data x context x creativity as an economic multiplier for clients.
How motherhood helps her succeed at work: “Motherhood has taught me how to be patient and simplify things that might seem complicated. After getting my youngest son to do his geometry homework, I realized I could definitely get a creatively driven agency excited about embracing data and marketing science.”
The difference between being a manager at work and at home: “At work, my metric of success is my clients’ achievements and satisfaction. I’m all the about results I can see in the data. But at home, those intangible, small moments I share with my family are the true victories.”
North America Media Director
With an extensive media, digital and content background, Mennes directs media and digital strategy for North America at Mondelez and also leads the new digital accelerator for the region’s brand portfolio.
How work success helps her succeed at motherhood: “A mentor of mine told me to make sure to always be ‘present’ in meetings and interactions at the office. People will notice. Best advice for my career and for being the best mom. Being present with my girls when I am with them shows them how much I care and that they are my number-one priority.”
Her must-have working parent app: “I wouldn’t be able to survive without the school private groups on Facebook. It helps me keep up-to-date on activities and basic information like Wednesday is pizza day and I don’t need to make lunch.”
Advertising’s new normal: “The industry has come a long way. Women are now powerhouses and showing young women how being a mom does not mean you cannot succeed in your career.”
EVP, Executive Creative Director
Caggiano currently heads creative on Leo Burnett for Allstate Insurance, The Allstate Foundation, UnitedHealthcare, Campbell’s, Purina, Feeding America and more.
Best piece of work advice from her kids: “A few years ago, I was walking my son, Enzo, to elementary school, and he said, ‘Mom, why don’t you do anything fun like Mayhem anymore?’ He was right. A couple of weeks later, I heard there was a great brief out in the agency that no one wanted. It was for health insurance. I took it and ended up creating the ‘Ways In’ campaign for UnitedHealthcare. The first spot went viral and was the most-shared spot in the world for three weeks running. Thanks, Enzo.”
The working parent misconception that she’d like to go away: “That motherhood is hardest when you’re a new mom. Companies do a lot to help parents of babies. But there is nothing done to help parents of teenagers. Or parents of kids in college. And don’t even get me started on the sandwich years.”
Who keeps the calendar? “Like it or not, women carry something called the mental load. What are we doing this week? Who’s taking who, where, when. In [nearly] every partnership I’ve seen, whether both spouses work or not, the calendar is the woman’s job. It looks simple but it still takes a couple hours a week of my time.”
EVP, Director of Business Development
Under McGarry’s leadership, DDB has had a notable increase in new business activity, including substantial wins with the U.S. Army, McDonald’s, Miller Lite, Fiat Chrysler, Symantec and iShares.
How work success helps her succeed at motherhood: “I have done new business for my entire advertising career which means I have seen a lot of chaos, success and defeats. Above all, my career has taught me how to simultaneously swing big and get things done, which has translated into my family life.”
Best piece of work advice from her kids: “They insist that I bring them a souvenir [when I travel]. That forces me to be a tourist in whatever city I’ve landed in for at least 10 minutes and put thought into what makes that city special.”
Her must-have working parent app: “Renweb to make sure I know all the homework that needs to get done and how my kids are progressing in school.”
SVP, Integrated Marketing
Glorioso leads integrated marketing for NBCU News Group and Cable Entertainment, which includes the Today Show, Nightly News, Meet the Press, MSNBC and CNBC, along with USA and SYFY.