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It’s about being loving and kind and setting boundaries. I want to make sure my children have what they need to grow. I’m not a helicopter parent. It’s good to remember there are things I have to control and things I can’t. The really tough part about being a parent is when to give leeway and flexibility, and when not to.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Rashida La Lande, Global General Counsel and Head of ESG and Government Affairs at Kraft Heinz.

Rashida La Lande is Senior Vice President, Global General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Kraft Heinz. Prior to joining the Company in January 2018, Ms. La Lande was a partner at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where she advised corporations and their boards, primarily in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, private equity deals, and joint ventures. During her nearly 20 year career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, she represented companies and private equity sponsors in the consumer products, retail, financial services, and technology industries.

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

I grew up in Jamaica, Queens, a very diverse neighborhood in New York City. I was extremely lucky to hit the parent lottery: they’re kind, loving and focused on learning. I’m great friends with them now and we talk every day.

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

Sure! I usually wake up around 7AM. I or my husband let out the dog and we start the process of getting our four children up and ready for school. The hardest is the 6-year-old. Even though she goes to a school that requires a uniform, there is a daily battle about her outfit and hair. My husband puts on music and based on the playlist, the children know whether they should be rushing or whether they have time to be leisurely. One of us will get breakfast ready for the four. I have to say, teeth brushing is the bane of my existence — my children will not do it on their own! Once everyone is off to school, I race upstairs and try to fit in a shower if there’s time before my first meeting. If not, I’m hoping I can take a shower during lunch. It’s a juggling act for sure. Though I try to keep normal work hours, I recognize that it’s all about the role. As general counsel, there have been times where things happen in the middle of the night that I need to attend to.

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

I tell my children all the time that my job is not to give them what they want, but to give them the skills to succeed in life. I take this job very seriously and to do it right I need to spend time with them and teach them the right things to do. But spending time with them helps me as well. It’s a way to charge my battery and to feel motivated. And I really enjoy all of it: reading them books before they go to bed, arguing over what’s a better book or who’s a better superhero, cooking together, baking together. I thrive on it. Most of the time it’s really enjoyable!

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 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

For me, the only way to make everything work is by being super-organized. Up on my computer screen is a monthly view of my family’s life. I map it out every six months and color coordinate it by child. Work life balance is about understanding that there are periods of intensity around work, and periods where there is intensity around family life. Mom stress is a real thing, and this is a way to combat that. I include key Kraft Heinz dates as well — Board of Directors meetings, stockholder meetings, conventions. Every Sunday night I’m looking at my calendar to see which days are early days, late days. I look ahead to the short term, medium term and long term. Forethought and planning keeps it working. During the week, I also try not to overcomplicate things. If I have a late day and it’s my turn to cook, it’ll be something I can cook ahead of time, in between calls, like arroz con pollo in the pot.

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

It’s about being loving and kind and setting boundaries. I want to make sure my children have what they need to grow. I’m not a helicopter parent. It’s good to remember there are things I have to control and things I can’t. The really tough part about being a parent is when to give leeway and flexibility, and when not to.

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

It’s a multipronged approach but it starts with books! Books are really big in our family and always have been. Reading is always extremely important to us. One of us reads to the kids every night. We’re reading Anne of Green Gables — everyone loves it, even my 14-year-old. Our favorite books are The Little Engine That Could and Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, an incredible piece of African American feminist literature. It’s about a girl who wants to be Peter Pan in her school play. I also like to lead by example. Sometimes I’ll talk through issues at the dinner table and ask my children what they think. It’s all about getting those muscles trained.

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

Success is me going as far with my career as I’m capable of and my children being generally happy, caring, hardworking, thoughtful and as successful as they want to be. I think these goals complement each other, especially in the context of leading by example.

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

It full on takes a village! My advice is to take whatever help and guidance you can. I have a ton of mentors who I call on for all sorts of problems. I also rely on books to help. The book series from Your One Year Old to Your Nine Year Old by Louise Bates Ames, PhD and Frances Ilg M.D. are great. Another book that gets read in our house is Raising Lions by Joe Newman.

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

I have a quote that I love because it perfectly incapsulates the importance of leading by example but also the importance of spending time with your children:

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
― James Baldwin

Kraft Heinz SVP Rashida La Lande: “How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.