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Growing into New Roles

Gioia Dolmetsch, Key Account Manager CCHBC Switzerland, gives us the ins-and-outs of life as a working parent.

Since joining Coca-Cola HBC four years ago, I´ve had two children: Julie, who’s about to turn three, and Max, who arrived in December. Balancing my job as a Key Account Manager with motherhood has been a considerable challenge, and one I’m still getting to grips with!

In the summer of 2021, following my maternity leave, I took on a new portfolio in the Local Account Management Team in Switzerland. As a result, I’ve had to learn how to juggle both roles at the same time, which is no mean feat.  

Man standing behind a chair on stage in the dark with a spotlight on him Man standing behind a chair on stage in the dark with a spotlight on him

Let me run you through an average day. Making an early start, I enjoy my Costa Coffee on the go, (although Julie isn’t thrilled that she’s not allowed to have one). After dropping the kids off at daycare, I drive to Bern to meet a client at one of the largest hospital groups in Switzerland. Following a productive meeting, I pay a quick visit to another client on my way back.

When I arrive at my home office, every minute counts. I have urgent video meetings scheduled and need to finish two offers on my to-do list. As always, the emails are piling up, but I only manage to reply to three before it’s time to pick the kids up from daycare. Quickly packing a sandwich, I rush off. 

On the way home, Julie starts complaining. She’s hungry and doesn't like my sandwich... Once home, the grumbling gets worse as they’re both hungry and want me to do something about it -  immediately! I feel slightly on-edge as I hold Max in my arms while chopping up some vegetables and heating up yesterday’s leftovers. Just when I feel like my patience is wearing thin, a Coke zero always calms me down!

With full stomachs, the kids eventually settle down too, aided by my husband returning from work. Only once they’re asleep we can at last take a breather. I then have some time to reply to more emails, but I leave some for the next day.

Typical days like this are full-on and there are times when it can all get a bit overwhelming. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s truly mastered the work/life balance, and I’m sure others in the same position can relate to the struggle. Ultimately, all we can do is try our best to be good parents and good leaders too. We're not super-human.

Man standing behind a chair on stage in the dark with a spotlight on him Man standing behind a chair on stage in the dark with a spotlight on him

I do find that both roles complement each other though. For example, managing home and work commitments requires equal attention and skill. Like my clients, my children need to know I am fully there for them, looking after their interests and helping them grow.

I’ve discovered both in my private and professional life that being good at managing your time, your portfolio (or home finances) and knowing what the top priorities are is key. Working at Coca-Cola HBC I greatly appreciate the uncomplicated time and work flexibility. My work time is separated into online projects and live meetings with clients, and I feel supported by my manager in choosing how to combine my duties in a way that fulfils my work as well as my family needs.  

Man standing behind a chair on stage in the dark with a spotlight on him Man standing behind a chair on stage in the dark with a spotlight on him

I don’t consider myself an expert, but here are some things I’ve learned along the way that might be of help to parent in a similar situation:

1.     Be well prepared and think ahead. Studying hotel management helped me understand the importance of having a clean mise-en-place, which included prepping all the right ingredients ahead of cooking so the process is more efficient. This can be applied to any area of life.

2.     Have your priorities in order. What needs to be done first? What can wait till later? Keeping a cool head helps when assessing how to best utilize your time without giving in to distracting pressures.

3.     Last, but certainly not least: acknowledge your achievements and reward yourself! Even the little moments, like relaxing with your partner, celebrating a new collaboration, realizing how much you’ve managed to get done in a day, offers you extra strength, confidence and motivation.

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