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C-Suite Moms: “The biggest challenges being a working mom involve time and presence.” with Michelle Martinez Reyes and Jessica Abo

The biggest challenges being a working mom involve time and presence. With so many ongoing demands in our personal and professional lives, it is extremely difficult to juggle or prioritize and reprioritize competing demands as an executive and mother. Sometimes you have to get creative in how you’re going to achieve all pending items and […]


The biggest challenges being a working mom involve time and presence. With so many ongoing demands in our personal and professional lives, it is extremely difficult to juggle or prioritize and reprioritize competing demands as an executive and mother. Sometimes you have to get creative in how you’re going to achieve all pending items and engagements. However, you cannot let your pride and ego get the best of you and you have to learn to ask for help. Often times, we need others to help us achieve our goals and that’s ok too.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Martinez Reyes, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Greenspoon Marder LLP, one of the largest law firms in Florida. With over 20 years of experience, she focuses on the firm’s strategy and growth, branding, business development, client relations and media and public relations efforts throughout the U.S.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?

I was originally a political science major during my undergraduate program in college. One of my early jobs during college was in the marketing department of a publication. Hence, my story changed course from the focus of being an attorney to the field of marketing. I had imagined that I was going to marry very young and have several children in my 20’s. So, the thought of living by the demand of the billable hour and with endless working hours seemed unfathomable to me with that vision and was not in the forecasted storyline. My parents had me at 18 — teenagers just coming out of high school. I thought that was pretty cool and that the rest of the parents were so old. Yet still, I decided to not marry my high school sweetheart of 3 years and go on. I worked my way up the career ladder and landed in legal marketing before my mid-20s. I didn’t marry nor have my son until 28 so clearly, I’m not a great planner or personal visionary. Through the course of many great opportunities at several top firms, I received a call one day to come interview for the Chief Marketing Officer role at Greenspoon Marder. Nothing has ever been the same since that day.

Can you share with us how many children you have?

I have one child, now thirteen years old, Madden Reyes. I have had the privilege of raising him as a sole parent since he was three months old with some help from my family and now my fiancée, Art de la Nuez.

Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?

I was in my later 20s when my son was born and in my first role within the legal marketing field. I was climbing my way towards mid-management and then became separated and headed towards divorce during my maternity leave, alone with a child. I had to reinvent everything I thought I was going to do and be. Now I had a new passion to just survive, even beyond just focusing of my career. I was a new version of me.

Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?

I always wanted to be a mother. I am the oldest of 4 sisters spanning across 18 years, and part of a big family, so I have always been surrounded by children of all ages. Being a wife and mother was part of what I believed I needed to be as part of my life plan. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Did motherhood happen when you thought it would or did it take longer? If it took longer, what advice would you have for another woman in your shoes?

Motherhood happened as soon as the active thought came to my mind. I said, “I want a baby,” and I found out I was pregnant within weeks. I don’t think I was ready for it to happen that quickly, but you’re ready once you’re in it. I fell in love with my son the first moment I heard his heartbeat. I’ve been love struck ever since.

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

My day-to-day schedule looks like a marathon. In my field, we are on and available 24/7 so there’s no off button ever. There’s lots of travel and meetings and calls on all phone lines, and text messages and thousands of emails per week. Every minute of the day is accounted for because time is a luxury I cannot squander. It’s kind of like what you see in the movies. Crazy but exhilarating at some level too. Failure is not an option, so if you are tired or break down, you take a small breather and jump back into the race. The best in all fields have to work daily to stay the best for as long possible. I have a long way to go still at 41!

Has being a parent changed your career path? Can you explain?

Being a parent didn’t necessarily change my career path but changed my perspective on my career path and goals and timeline. My priority has always been my son, but I need to work in order to support him as his only parent. However, I’ve learned that ambition, opportunity and location do not always work on your timeframe. If you’re an inherent career climber like I am, it will be almost inevitable that your career may sometimes come second to your life and role as a parent. However, just because the line towards ascension may not be purely vertical, doesn’t mean you are not achieving and succeeding. Sometimes it’s ok to jog in place and learn and grow expertise until it’s time and ok for your family to not need you as much or in the same way. Small kids require a lot of physical work while bigger kids require more emotional support and regular coaching.

Has being a mother made you better at your job? How so?

I think being a mother has given me greater appreciation for my employment and greater perspective as an employee and for those we employ. Jobs are done by people and being a parent definitely helps you develop your people skills and become more sympathetic to others.

What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?

The biggest challenges being a working mom involve time and presence. With so many ongoing demands in our personal and professional lives, it is extremely difficult to juggle or prioritize and reprioritize competing demands as an executive and mother. Sometimes you have to get creative in how you’re going to achieve all pending items and engagements. However, you cannot let your pride and ego get the best of you and you have to learn to ask for help. Often times, we need others to help us achieve our goals and that’s ok too.

Are there any stories you remember from the early days of parenthood that you want to share?

I have so many stories — how much time do we have!? I remember taking my child to the park every day after school and before we got home. I had to leave work earlier and sacrifice time at work, but that was the time we spent together every day since I couldn’t stay home with him and he had to go to day care since he was 15 months old. I think most moms live with the guilt of not being with their kids every moment when they need to work. However, kids are adaptable, and they love being with other kids. So I learned that taking him to school to learn and be with friends was fun for him even though I really wanted to be there every second. Everything you thought parenthood was, really wasn’t like you imagined. It was mostly way better or way harder, so you learn appreciation for your parents quickly. You also learn to repent quickly as well for your previous behaviors as a child!

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 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

With my hectic schedule, I have found that you have to block time in order to prioritize your personal life just as much as you would your deliverables for work. Create hard stops in your day to make time for your children and then if you need to finish items for work, complete them after they go to bed or before they wake up. When you’re with your children, try to avoid being on the phone or dealing with emails. Kids of all ages want your undivided attention and sometimes work will have to wait until you can come back fully online in order to allow your family to claim the time and dedication they deserve. If your employer values you, they will have every confidence you can handle what’s needed when needed and still be a good parent. Try to align your days away from the office to the days your kids are off from school so they see that they are just as important as work and you get in your quality time. Working remotely is ok too if you need to juggle and get it all done regardless of location. And try to take vacations or go on outings with those you love. Children build memories every day, as we all do. Take the time to create experiences that you will all cherish as you grow together and into new chapters of your lives. Time is fleeting and you need to capitalize every second possible. Holidays and birthdays are king in our household.

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

I’m a strong believer in leading by example. I show my son my workplaces, let him get to know some of my colleagues and partners and learn about what I do for work and to earn a living. I involve my son in some of my community work and volunteer work so he understands the value of gratitude and giving back to the community. I take him to some of my awards ceremonies and he watched me graduate and walk the stage to get my MBA while working full time and supporting him the whole while. I show my son every day that there is no excuse for NOT chasing your dreams. Dreams require tons of work, dedication and time. Dreams are not instantaneous or handed to you. Even with support, dreams are your own and you need to earn and actualize them throughout your life.

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

I get most of my parental advice and inspiration from other moms. We often think that our child is the only one going through changes or rough patches. But it turns out we are all surrounded by little and big human beings all going through similar or the same changes and good or bad patches. Experience has turned out to be my greatest teacher, but listening has turned out to be my highest coveted and valued skill. Listening and observing others can provide wonderful ongoing life lessons in what to do or NOT do.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?

“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” — IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.

If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?

Keep it simple. As parents we want to give everything in excess and go above and beyond, thinking that our children need it or will be better off or will love us more, etc. I’ve learned through my own mistakes that keeping it simple is the best course. Dedicate one-on-one time for those you love daily and be there for as many moments as you can because your presence and involvement is the most important element of being a parent.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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