Citi's CMO: 'You don't have to pretend to be Superwoman'

Jennifer Breithaupt speaks about the importance of being an honest leader.

"You don’t have to pretend you’re ‘Super Mom’ or ‘Superwoman.’ It’s okay to fail and it’s okay to be honest and show the world what it’s like to be a business leader who has a lot going on," said Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer CMO of Citi.

During Berlin Cameron’s "Reframing Motherhood" breakfast conference on Monday, the marketing chief added that becoming a parent helped her become more empathetic and efficient with her time – two key qualities in leadership.  

According to research from Berlin Cameron, The Female Quotient and Kantar, it’s not until someone has a child that they realize they became a better leader after parenthood.

Breithaupt found that piece of data surprising at first because after she became a mom, she said, "I thought I was a mess and all over the place."

But then she realized that parents are better leaders because "we don’t have a choice."

"As moms, you have zero time for yourself, so you learn that making quicker decisions and being present when you are somewhere  - because you don’t have time for follow-ups – is essential," said the Citi marketing leader.

April Daniels Hussar, Romper managing editor and moderator of the "Flipping the Motherhood Penalty into an Opportunity" discussion, asked panelists to define what the "Motherhood Penalty" means to them.

"It’s this clash between the ideal mother and the ideal worker," said Tiffany Dufu, founder of The Cru and author of Drop the Ball. She said that it’s about unrealistic expectations of being a "good mom," such as being there when your child takes his or her first steps, while also being a stellar employee and working long hours.

Jennifer Carrea, CEO of Americas and global health for Kantar Profiles Division, said on the panel that she was her "own worst enemy" when it came to the motherhood penalty because she felt guilty for not being at work.

"I also set a bad precedent before kids or working really late and crazy hours, so it was hard to resent the precedent," she said.

Carrea added: "As a leader, you’re managing all sorts of people, so you have to be transparent about what’s important to you. I’ll sneak out at 4pm to catch my son’s baseball games, but I tell people, ‘He’s pitching and I’m not going to miss this.’ But I equally know what’s important to my team and it’s not always kids because not everyone has kids."

Another piece of the research showed that 77 percent of parents feel like being a parent makes them a better leader, specifically with moms identifying that they feel parenthood makes them more empathic and improves their ability to effectively use their time.

While Raegan Moya-Jones, co-founder of Saint Luna Spirits and Founder of Aden + Anais said she didn’t have a leadership position before having kids, she believes that it helped her lead people she had so much on her plate. "I just ran my business as a leader thinking of what it was like as a mom trying to juggle many things," she said.

Moya-Jones added: "I know there’s nothing that someone on my team could throw at me that could be worse than what one of my kids could throw at me."

 

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