C-Suite Moms: “I think it has helped me to focus on what’s important, work to change what I can, bring people with me, manage the stakeholders, be patient and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!” with Teddy George and Jessica Abo
Being a parent has made me realize that I have to work at making things work! I think it has helped me to focus on what’s important, work to change what I can, bring people with me, manage the stakeholders, be patient and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Teddy George, VP People Eggplant. Teddy is a senior HR executive with considerable experience in a number of industries and commercial sectors including FinTech, legal and creative services. She is passionate about delivering solutions on HR and people issues to enhance business performance. She has experience in all aspects of HR, notably strategy development, talent management, performance management, employee relations and employee engagement.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?
I got a job temping at the London Lighthouse an AIDS hospice straight after college. It was a very humbling and challenging experience, but it did make we want to be in a role where I could influence the experience of individuals in the workplace. I had previously worked in a Carlyle group investee company, and an executive I had worked with before introduced me to Eggplant leadership team. My career path has been driven by recommendations from my network.
Can you share with us how many children do you have?
I have one tweenager, a boy of 12.
Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?
Having struggled to get pregnant and carrying to term, I had almost given up on the prospect of being a mum and took a challenging role in an independent advertising agency with the remit of creating and building the HR department. I then found out eight months later that I was pregnant.
Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?
I never imagined not being a mother more than I always wanted to be a mother. I am one of three, and my husband is one of four. Big families surround us, and I always believed I would have the same.
Did motherhood happen when you thought it would or did it take longer? If it took longer, what advice would you have for another woman in your shoes?
Yes, it took longer. I would say don’t give up — emotionally or physically! It’s ok to be vulnerable and let people in. Work can be a haven from personal challenges.
Can you tell us a bit about what your day-to-day schedule looks like?
I’m an early bird, so I like to be at my desk by 8 am to deal with emails that have come in overnight from the US. Then it’s meetings most mornings, team progress and catch ups. I try to dedicate an hour each day to step away from operational tasks and challenge myself mentally by reading an article in the Harvard Business Review or listening to a podcast.
Has being a parent changed your career path? Can you explain?
Yes. My journey to motherhood took longer than expected, and it meant that I wanted to find a balance. I went back to work when my son was six months old which is relatively early in the UK. However, just after his first birthday I started a business with a partner and with backing from a corporate finance boutique, it challenged my skillset, I learned a huge amount and most importantly it provided some flexibility. I could work from home more and manage my hours to fit around childcare.
Has being a mother made you better at your job? How so?
I don’t know. It has made me realize that I have to work at making things work! I think it has helped me to focus on what’s important, work to change what I can, bring people with me, manage the stakeholders, be patient and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?
The daily struggle of trying to achieve work-life balance. Work is extremely important, but it’s equally important to be able to do the school pick up sometimes and to switch off and spend the holidays with the family.
Are there any meaningful activities or traditions you’ve made up or implemented that have enhanced your time with your family? Can you share a story or example?
I’m South African, and my husband is Scottish, so we try to celebrate our two cultures over the holidays. Every Christmas eve we have a special dinner with South African delicacies including curries, a roast and it wouldn’t be complete without a trifle and sweet donuts. We also take an annual fishing trip to Scotland. It’s our way to bringing our two worlds together.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?
I have one child, so this isn’t so difficult for us. We try to have supper together every evening, and it’s our time to catch up on the day, think about tomorrow and what’s coming up, air our stresses. Sunday afternoon we try to make time to do an activity such as a walk in the park, see a movie, go to a museum or go for a bike ride.
At bedtime I try to have 10 minutes chatting on the bed — it’s quiet time and Mummy time to maybe address the bigger issues.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
We talk about his latest career aspirations and what he would need to do to get there. I remind him that you can never fail if you give it your all. I make sure that he understands that you can achieve whatever you want if you put the work in. We talk about his achievements so far including making the A team, succeeding at exams and teaching himself to backflip!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. His story was very much a part of my childhood and the struggles that my own family endured. His story is motivating, humbling and inspiring.
I’m an avid listener to Desert Island Discs as it’s inspiring and interesting learning about different individuals from all walks of life and the music that has carried them through.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?
Trust your instincts and have at least one treat a day.
Thank you so much for these insights! We really appreciate your time.