SailPoint CMO Juliette Rizkallah: “The way I define success as a parent today is if my kids grow up to be happy adults”

I was raised to be top of the class in everything I did. In my early adulthood, I thought I wanted my kids to be at the top of everything they do as well. But now my view has changed because I have seen too many successful people being quite miserable in their lives. So the way I define success as a parent today is if my kids grow up to be happy adults. Because if they are happy, they will most likely succeed in what is important to them and let go of the rest.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Juliette Rizkallah. A marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience, Juliette brings a wealth of expertise and pragmatism to SailPoint in her role as Chief Marketing Officer. No stranger to the world of enterprise security, Juliette leads the company’s worldwide marketing efforts, and is responsible for articulating the company vision, product solutions, technology innovations and business purpose to customers, partners and media around the globe. Juliette has held executive positions and was an agent of growth at some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Oracle, CA, Business Objects-SAP and Check Point Software. She started her career as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company and Arthur Andersen France where she acquired her business impact focus. Juliette holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris (E.S.C.P.) in Paris, France. She is also a Forbes Technology Council contributing writer, an invitation-only organization for senior-level technology executives.

Thank you so much for joining us, Juliette! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I was born and raised in Paris, and early on, my parents set me up to see myself as an independent thinker and person. I went to the United States for the first time when I was 13 — without my family — and I stayed with an exchange family for six weeks. People thought my parents were crazy for letting me do this. They always treated my sister and me as adults, and my adventure to the U.S. as a teen is an excellent example of that. My family is very tight-knit, and even though I was always independent, I would still turn to them for advice. I adopted a lot of their parenting style when I became a parent myself.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I went into high tech because I wanted to stay in San Francisco where I moved right after my MBA, and that was the primary industry there. I started in software development, and at some point, a job in a cybersecurity company came up, and I fell in love with cybersecurity. I have been in this category of high tech for a while, growing in my specialties in the marketing function.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

I wake up at 6 a.m., get ready, make breakfast and lunch for the kids, wake the kids up, get them ready and off to school. After that, I come to work., and from there, I am in meetings most of the day. Twice a week, I do carve out time to go to Pilates, a favorite of mine. At the end of the workday, I have dinner with my family and help my kids with their homework or their piano practice. Weekends are mostly filled with kids activities, sport tournaments or birthday parties.

OK, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

Children, even at an early age, need role models. Their parents are the first models they can observe. Children get their values, work ethic, and habits from their parents.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so essential to make time to spend with your children?

Nobody else but a parent can provide a child the confidence that they can do anything they set their mind to. As children develop, that positive reinforcement, combined with the right framework for growth, is critical to define the character of the child growing into adulthood.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

When I am with my kids, I am in the moment, because I once realized that moment — when they are six months, five and ½ or even the ugly teens — will pass very fast, so I embrace it fully and enjoy it. Because I work most of the time, I focus on the quality of time spent with them rather than quantity. My kids spend a lot of time with teachers and caretakers. When I am with them we talk, I listen to them, we do homework, we play with Legos, we cuddle and watch TV or dance to 80s music. Never do I have my phone at that time. And, if by chance I need to work, I tell them it is work time and send them to do their work too (reading or drawing mostly). However, when I do not work, I am 100% available to them (even when I sleep unfortunately J).

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 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

I treat my kids like grown-ups. I tell them that I need to do something for work and ask them to give me that time, but I am upfront about it and I compensate later by giving them my undivided attention when I am done. I make it real for them. I tell them that Mark (SailPoint’s CEO) needs my help or that Abby (Vice President of Human Resources at SailPoint) is calling me, and then they get to know the names of people who work with me. They also meet them at work parties, like SailPoint Halloween feast, and integrate my work life and my colleagues into theirs.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

If a definition exists, I want to see it and just do it or be it. We are all thriving to be a good parent. Some days we are closer to being it than others. My goal is to see my kids grow and trust me to always be there for them so I can help them, support them, cheer them on, or correct them. Being in their lives 100% is a good start, but being consistent and reliable is another. Treating them like people and giving them a rationale for what can or cannot be is something that my parents did raising me. I am trying to adopt this practice with my children, so they grow independent, but are also mindful of the reality of their parent’s lives.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I tell them that there is nothing that they cannot do if they set up their minds to do it.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

I was raised to be top of the class in everything I did. In my early adulthood, I thought I wanted my kids to be at the top of everything they do as well. But now my view has changed because I have seen too many successful people being quite miserable in their lives. So the way I define success as a parent today is if my kids grow up to be happy adults. Because if they are happy, they will most likely succeed in what is important to them and let go of the rest.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

Once in a while, I find a book I want to read, but most of the time, I observe other parents and the success they have with their kids. I also stay close to my kids; they always tell me how I am doing.

Can you please give us your favorite Life Lesson Quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

In France we did not grow up with this saying, so although it is common here, it was new to me when I first heard it. My mantra is “what does not kill you, makes you stronger.” If I did not have bumps in the road, I would not be what I am today. I say this mantra to myself, I say it to my kids and friends, too. When something not so good happens, you can sit on it for two days and not be productive, but after two days, you need to move on. After 48 hours of mulling over something, you need to bounce back. Smile, raise your head, and go back at it. Get back on your feet. It is the cycle of life, and it is what keeps people — and the most successful people — moving forward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).

Consider a person you do not like or to whom you do not relate and find ways to connect to that person. Once you achieve that, you will feel and be a better person, and more than likely, you will make that other person feel like a rock star. It is the definition of inclusion to me, and it is something that we need to practice and teach our kids every day.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Written by

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, writer, and speaker based in New Jersey.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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