Happy August! Now that summer is winding down, we’re thinking about back-to-school—and specifically, to college. This month, we’re talking about a new trend we’ve been seeing lately: Families taking special trips with their college-bound kids. And speaking of bonding travel, we’re also highlighting our recent retreat in Puerto Rico—including our top hosting tips. And finally, rounding out this edition is a great Q&A with Qatar Airways, which was recently honored with the distinction of “World’s Best Airline.” We hope the rest of your summer is fun and relaxing!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Much has been written about the challenges of balancing a career and motherhood, but for Johanna Spencer, Director of Client Relations for LVMH, the key is this: “making the best use of my time, always,” she says.
For the mother of three—she and her husband, Brian, First in Service’s Chief Technology Officer, have an 8-year-old daughter, Lilyana, and 6-and-a-half-year-old twins, Anabella and Alexander—that might mean running errands on her lunch break, or signing off for a few hours in the evening to be with the kids before logging back on to help her clients. It’s important to her to have that family time at night—especially having special time with her son, Alex, who has autism—and knowing how hard all the kids work in school.
And she stresses the importance of both to her kids: “We talk about how we work because we love them and want to provide for the family, so there’s a mutual respect,” she says.
Johanna has been working in the travel industry since she was 19 years old, when she lived on the beach in North Carolina and took a job as an admin. That lead to working as a travel agent handling federal government travel. Over the years, she’s held various roles in the industry, before joining First in Service in 2013.
Today, Johanna works from her home office outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, where every day is different and might include anything from introducing clients to new technology, to handling any customer service issues that might come up, to traveling for meetings and presentations.
When she does travel, the kids count the number of “sleeps” she’ll be gone—and, though it doesn’t happen often, she has also brought them along for the ride. Last summer, the family worked from the Bogota office. But, come summer, you’re more likely to find the family on Lake Norman, where their weekends are full of boating and swimming. (Winter, on the other hand, is for DIY home renovations—this past year, they built a movie room with platform seating!).
But even with the juggling, what’s the best part of being a working mom? “The best part of being a working mom, is continuing to develop yourself professionally while showing my girls what strong, smart, ambitious women they can be and to never let anything get in the way,” says Johanna. “I get to be a mom and be a professional, while working from home and being the home mom part-time—and that satisfies all the parts of my heart and mind.”