Beyond 9 to 5: Balancing Business Leadership and Motherhood with Raquel
Celebrating Women's History Month with a Post about Moms and the Workplace
As you may or may not know, March is Women’s History Month. In celebration of women in the workplace specifically, we thought what better time to deep dive with team member Raquel Weiss Fusco. Raquel is a daughter, sister, wife, friend, and mother of three. She is also a Vice President and Partner at elite|studio e, and is slated to be the President of the Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management.
I sat down with Raquel and had the opportunity to get honest, vulnerable answers about her experience as a woman in a business leadership role, and as a new mother to twins.
What was it like returning to work after maternity leave for your twins?
“I know this may sound crazy, but it felt so good to return! And just after a few days back, it honestly feels like I never left.
The truth is, I thrive on being busy and keeping an active mind. I am a better Mommy because I work and I am a better leader because I too have a life outside of my job; my beautiful family.
I must say though, I really commend those that decide to stay home for an extended period of time in lieu of returning back to the office, it’s a hard job!!! I am so fortunate that I had the team behind me to hold down the fort while I was gone on maternity leave, and now, I have a wonderful team at home caring for my little ones. Balance is key, being present at work is crucial, but so is being present at home for my children."
The newest additions to the family were welcomed in late 2022.
What did you find out about yourself upon your return?
“I can do my job on little to no sleep! All jokes aside, it was much easier coming back to work this time around from maternity leave because I knew what to expect. For example: the dreaded mom guilt. When I returned from maternity from having my first child, Olivia, that feeling of mom guilt was definitely present. This time around I know they are happy, getting lots of love and attention while I am at work and I know that when I get home, they get a very excited and present mommy who can’t wait to spend time with them!!!"
Pictured above is Raquel with the best big sister and helper.
She continued, “I feel extremely fulfilled in all areas of my life, and WOW, how good it feels to finally say that! What I mean by that is all the pieces of my puzzle finally feel like they are coming together. I am not complete without my kids, and I am not complete without work. Yin and yang, balance. I am so proud that I can set an example for my children that you CAN love what you do. Work isn’t like, ‘UGH I have to go to work.’ Being that role model for my daughters and my son, that you can love what you do, never settle, never give up on what you want, is all I could ask for.”
How did maternity impact being a partner in business?
“I had to be all in – it’s all or nothing when you take on being a partner in a business. It was much easier to return because I wanted my voice and input on company decisions. Elite is my home; it is my passion. It’s like another baby! It makes it easier in a way to come back because it’s such a huge a part of my life. On the contrary, it was hard to turn off and go on maternity leave, so much so that I was taking a meeting right before I went into labor. It was hard to shut down.”
Who is a woman you most look up to?
“My grandmother, Ruthy. As a loving wife, friend, mother, grandmother and even, great grandmother, she was such a role model and a significant woman in my life. She never settled for the word no, a true go getter! This woman raised three kids, who all turned out successful and happy in their own right all while always going after new business endeavors, even in the 1950s/60s – Just amazing!!!"
Pictured above is Raquel surrounded by three generations -- her Grandma Ruthy, her eldest daughter, and her dad, Eric. They have all worked in the foodservice and hospitality industry.
How are you feeling returning from your maternity leave, specifically with the SHFM (Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management) Presidency down the line?
“There are not enough hours in a day. I am very fortunate to have a husband who not only understands and supports me, but also encourages my desire to continue to keep making a name for myself in the industry. Whether that means working late, traveling, or not being the chef of the house😉. I will be candid and vulnerable right now and say that a large part of my past four years was fighting to have a family. It took a lot of time and energy; it was like having a second job. The fact that I won that fight … I now have so many more hours that I can put those sweat and tears into. For example, being the president of SHFM come September 2023, which is an organization I am extremely passionate and fond of."
Pictured above is Raquel at various industry events.
"The path to create my family was a full-time job in itself. The time, energy, and patience it took from me is undeniable. I am very grateful we have that culture and supportive mentality here. It's refreshing to come back to work and have that weight off my shoulders ... allowing me to fully give 150% of myself to do what I love! It was worth it, but I am glad I finished that hurdle and can now enjoy my mom world and my work world!“
Raquel and her husband, Ryan, pose with their daughters and son.
Thank you so much Raquel for being so candid about your experience with work, growing your family, and what it’s like returning after maternity leave. I hope you all learned a little bit more about her; balancing work and life; and our company culture. Although it's nearly the end of Women's History Month, we can celebrate women any day. So, let’s all take some time to truly appreciate and celebrate all the strong, wonderful women in our lives.
Happy Women’s History Month!