Team Hopscotch is lucky enough to meet with impressive women daily through our work supporting and developing opportunities for professionals in our region. We like to use this space to give a platform to those who really stand out as 'having it all'; the impressive women who balance work, family and life on a daily basis. We've interviewed authors, bloggers, entrepreneurs and heads of industry; they are our Hopscotch Heroes, though many would never claim that title for themselves!
This month, Ricarda Ruecker takes centre stage. As single mum to an adopted son, she left her previous role as VP of a huge multinational to turn entrepreneur, setting up RR Executive Coaching and Consulting in her quest to balance work and family. Here's what she's learnt along the way:
My name is Ricarda Ruecker. I am a global citizen, born in Germany, living for the past 16 years in Dubai. I am a single mother of a 5 year old boy and I have always enjoyed working. When I think back, I have always been very ambitious and if I wanted to achieve something I always found a way to make it happen. I put my heart into what I am doing and therefore my work has always been at the core of my life. I have never been able to imagine not working.
The biggest impact in my life happened four and half years ago when I fulfilled my biggest dream and adopted my son from an orphanage in Ethiopia. The moment I saw him the first time, when he turned his head towards me while I was standing in the door and he smiled I knew in this instant that we found each other. Since then my life has become so much richer, more diverse, happier – and at the same time more challenging. I can’t imagine anymore how my life was without him. It was, of all the decisions in my life, the best I've ever made.
Before my son I was VP Leadership & Organization Development at MCN (Middle East Communications Network). I was travelling the entire region, worked many hours and enjoyed it. Within the first year with my son I acknowledged that it is impossible to continue working in the same way while raising my son and giving him all the love and attention he needed. The time you lose will never come back. Therefore I decided to resign and start my own business and founded RR Executive Coaching & Consulting, something that I had been planning to do for quite some time. I agreed with MCN a consultancy contract for 3 days a week – which became now 4 days a week and took on additional clients for Executive Coaching. Every week since has been super busy, however for me this was the perfect formula. It combines the work challenges I need, I do the work I love and I have created flexibility to be a good mother to my son. At least I can be home during the week every day around 5.30pm and then it is only our time till he sleeps.
The most important thing for me that makes it work is to be super organized, disciplined and efficient. Is it always easy – no! Do I feel sometimes guilty of not spending enough time with my child – yes! But I also know I have to earn the living for our small family and I also know I am a better and happier mother when I am working. He is now 5 years old understands that I have to and like to work. I raise him in a way that he understands that nothing in life is for free.
What is my biggest sacrifice? Actually it is me-time. Whenever I am not working I spend every minute with my son. Our weekends are amazing quality time full of fun and action – things we do together. Do I miss anything – no, because I did already all the exciting, adventurous or spontaneous things I cannot do at the moment before and I know times will change again.
What drives me is to make a difference, have impact and see tangible results. I have been raised in a way where it never made a difference if you are a woman or a men. Gender is not something that should stop you; I believe what you stand for and who you are as a person is more important and convince everybody of your worth through the work you do.
My mantra is: When you put your mind and heart into something you really, want you can achieve anything.